By John Lee.

Forty-five start-ups have presented their projects to a jury at a competition in Baghdad.

They were selected from an initial list of 250 applicants, with a final 20 being chosen to participate in the Orange Corners incubation programme.

Orange Corners Baghdad is an initiative of the Dutch Embassy in Baghdad, and is implemented by the business company KAPITA.

(Source: Orange Corners)

The Iraq Britain Business Council (IBBC) is partnering with Innovest as a Bronze-level eco-system partner for the Ruwwad Al Iraq Platform for young Iraqi Entrepreneurs in 2020.

Ruwwad Al Iraq [“Iraqpreneurs”] is a leading empowerment competition platform by INNOVEST Middle East that embraces young entrepreneurs around Iraq and helps them to start or scale up their businesses.

The competition invites participants to submit their innovative ideas or startup business plans in a bid for financial and capacity building prizes that will bring their dreams alive.

Bassam Falah, CEO of Innovest, said:

Our aim is to build communities of innovators in various sectors, to create new partnerships, to solidify individual and collective efforts, to achieve local, regional and global prosperity and to provide sustainable development to the people and community thus fulfilling their aspirations for a more stable, secure and dignified life.

“We Invest in pre speed funding as well as value creation through in-kind support where we provide startups with the access to resources that are important for their scale up.”

Christophe Michels, MD of IBBC, added:

IBBC are delighted to be supporting the development of Innovest’s start up initiative, as tech and entrepreneurialism are both very much in demand within Iraq as a solution for employment for young people and as a means to modernize the Iraqi social and commercial economy. 

“IBBC is keen to work more closely with tech companies and build a modern Iraq through innovation and applications, so we welcome supporting Innovest and its partnerships to realise these opportunities.

(Source: IBBC)

Top Mountain and USAID open Business Incubator and Training Center in Erbil

Top Mountain, in partnership with USAID, held a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the opening of the Business Incubator and Employment Program’s first training center.

This will be the first of four facilities that Top Mountain will open over the next two months, with three additional training centers planned for Ninevah.  The Erbil Training Center will enable Top Mountain to deliver training, events, and mentorship focused on career development and entrepreneurship for displaced people from Ninevah who are living in Erbil.

The event was attended by the U.S. Deputy Consul General, Elisabeth Rosenstock-Siller, and USAID’s Senior Deputy Assistant Administrator of the Bureau for the Middle East, Hallam Ferguson, as well as community leaders, academics, international donors, and NGOs that are currently working in Ninevah.

During his remarks, Mr. Ferguson mentioned that this is the first time since re-establishing its presence in Iraq 16 years ago that USAID has partnered directly with local organizations. “We are very excited to be working with local groups because it’s Iraqis that play the most important role in improving their country,” he said.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results.  USAID has funded Top Mountain’s program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI), which aims to build the capacity of local organizations and assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq that focuses on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship.  The Business Incubator and Employment Program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

(Source: Top Mountain)

By John Lee.

The Iraqi cabinet has said it will simplify company registration procedures for young entrepreneurs (aged 18-35 years), and exempt them from any associated fees.

It has also announced that it will provide unemployed graduates and others wishing to start manufacturing projects with free training and support to start their projects.

The new initiatives come against a background of continuing demands for reform from Iraqi youth.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

Top Mountain in partnership with USAID is launching a business incubator and employment program. The goal of the program is to promote economic growth and increase employment opportunities to support minorities from Ninewa targeted by ISIS.

Program activities will focus on achieving three core objectives designed to support this goal. Firstly, outreach campaigns will be used to increase interest in entrepreneurship and careers in the private sector.

Secondly, the project will build capacity in both technical and soft skills that will help beneficiaries start businesses and become more competitive in the job market. Lastly, the project will help to build professional networks that increase business and employment opportunities for persecuted minorities from Ninewa.

USAID is the world’s premier international development agency and a catalytic actor driving development results. USAID has funded this program under the New Partnership Initiative (NPI) that aims to assist populations in Iraq recovering from the genocide perpetrated by ISIS.

Top Mountain is a consulting firm based in Iraq focused on stabilization, economic development, and promoting employment and entrepreneurship. This program is aligned with Top Mountain’s mission to support economic development and stability in Iraq.

For more information please contact info@topmountain.co

(Source: Top Mountain)

By Alice Bosley and Patricia Letayf, Co-Founders of Five One Labs.

At Five One Labs, we work with idea or early-stage entrepreneurs from diverse communities to launch scalable, innovative businesses. We’ve had the privilege to work with tech startups like Dada, PHARX, Khanoo and more, and deeply understand the struggles that entrepreneurs who pursue apps, SaaS (software as a service), e-commerce solutions and more face in Iraq’s context.

Based on our work in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) over the past two years, we have been able to identify some of the most pressing challenges tech entrepreneurs and the startup community encounter.

The top five challenges are described below:

Challenge 1: Online-based businesses don’t legally exist in Iraq.

Registering businesses in Iraq is a costly and time-intensive process in the best of times, but it is made even more difficult because of the lack of law regulating online or technology businesses. E-commerce sites, SaaS, applications etc are not legally considered businesses, and cannot be registered as such. Entrepreneurs establishing tech startups are often left without the protection and freedom provided by being legally registered.

When entrepreneurs choose to register their tech businesses, they must register as a traditional business and open a brick and mortar location. They could choose to register as an “office,” which is the least expensive choice, but an ‘office’ registration could negatively impact the entrepreneur’s ability to take equity in the future. Other registration choices are more expensive and time-intensive.

The registration challenges that both tech and non-tech business face have been recognized by many, including Orange Corners, an initiative launched by the Dutch Government. In November Five One Labs and Orange Corners will release a “Roadmap” for business registration in the KRI, which will also highlight the registration experience of tech businesses. A similar roadmap will be published by KAPITA on the business registration process for Federal Iraq.

Challenge 2: The digital skills gap in Iraq increases the time and cost of launching a tech startup.

Launching a tech business, be it a mobile application or a website, requires a certain level of digital and technical skills, particularly as the business grows past its initial stages. And if an entrepreneur building a tech startup does not have the technical skills herself, she will need to enlist the support of developers and coders to build more complex prototypes to be able to test her product.

While digital skills and literacy are important for entrepreneurs — be they inside Iraq or outside — the skills gap in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, creates challenges for startup founders in the country. Data on computer programming education and skills are not readily available in Iraq, our experience working working with startups and anecdotal evidence suggests that the shortage of coders in Iraq has increased the time and cost of launching an app- or website-based business.

A number of non-technical founders that have gone through Five One Labs’ incubator program have found that coders and developers can be expensive, which increases their startup costs and causes delays in launching their businesses.

Additionally, a number have had to work remotely with developers, either in other parts of Iraq, or outside of the country entirely, to have their technical needs met, and many have gone through multiple freelance coders or developers in the early stages of the development of their products. Some non-technical founders also delay the hiring of CTOs, either because of the cost or because of a lack of understanding of the importance of having one on board from the outset.

The good news is that this reality is changing quickly, thanks to some amazing organizations across Iraq. Re:Coded, FikraSpace, and Preemptive Love Coalition’s WorkWell Program have been offering high-quality digital skill-building programs across the country to ensure that moving forward, the country’s youth are well-equipped to participate in the digital economy.

Challenge 3: The cost of launching a business is high — and there aren’t many ways that entrepreneurs can find financing to cover these costs.

In addition to the fact that the costs of building apps in Iraq can be high, tech founders also face high legal startup costs.

The lack of regulation regulating tech businesses can make registration more expensive, as entrepreneurs are forced to consult with and shuttle back and forth between multiple ministries and chambers of commerce who may interpret their startup as a different type of business, which impacts the cost.

Regulations also stipulate that businesses must have a physical office, and a lawyer and an accountant on retainer, which are immense costs for someone looking to launch a startup. Around the world many early-stage entrepreneurs, particularly tech founders, operate their registered businesses from home or from coworking spaces, but regulations in the KRI stipulate that an office (with four walls) is required, and so renting an office whereby a business can register from will likely add several hundred (if not thousands) of dollars in expenses for a new business depending on where in the country they are located.

Given these high costs — the million dollar question for tech founders (and entrepreneurs more generally) is where do they go to offset these expenses and find enough capital to build their business? While we will discuss this in more detail in future posts, options for financing in Iraq are extremely limited. For instance, Arabnet’s State of Digital Investments in MENA report for 2013-2018 shows no publicly-reported investments in digital business in Iraq during that period.

Many entrepreneurs thus self-finance or look to family and friends for funding, and for those who are able to find angel investors, the terms can often be stringent, or investors may seek a majority, rather than minority, stake in the company.

Challenge 4: Cash on delivery is still the norm.

Mobile and e-payment options are growing in Iraq. Asia Hawala, Zain Cash and Fast Pay are mobile payment methods that can and will change the way businesses in the country operate. Pre-paid credit cards, like Qi Card and Zain WalletCard, are starting to allow Iraqis to purchase things online that they were previously unable to purchase. However, there are still a number of challenges with e-payments that cause headaches and risk to technology entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, mobile payment methods are not as widely used as in other countries. Debit card penetration remains low and only 11% of Iraqis have bank accounts, which means that the majority of online purchases still happen through cash on delivery. Cash on delivery causes a number of problems: first, there’s the risk that customers will not actually pay for what they ordered, and the startup will be left with the burden. Some startups, like ShopYoBrand, a startup that purchases and delivers items from international brands like Zara, IKEA and Amazon to Iraq, makes customers pay a small amount of the total up front to provide some insurance.

ShopYoBrand founder Randi Barzinji said:

“Cash is hard to manage… there are a lot of transactions on a daily basis to be calculated manually instead of having an automatic system do it for you. And this is because the majority does not use an e-payment method yet on a daily basis…The challenge is to convince people for them to gain our trust, so that they’ll pay us ahead of time [to reduce risk]…It’s also important that the customer understands that we can’t order anything either without knowing the customer [and trusting them].”

The lack of e-payments makes expansion extremely challenging as well. Startups operating across the country, like grocery delivery app Miswag or last-mile delivery service Sandoog, have to transport cash from across the country to their headquarters, which is dangerous and time consuming. Balancing budgets can take months, with delays in customer payments and then additional delays in cash transportation.

Challenge 5: Lack of international e-payment options makes international expansion challenging without a foreign bank account.

Iraq, to all intents and purposes, is still disconnected from the international financial system for reasons relating to sanctions and the risk of money laundering. While Iraqis can use prepaid cards to pay for some services – like freelance coders – online (though often these cards do not work), it is very hard to receive money from abroad in Iraq.

OFAC lifted the majority of country-wide sanctions against Iraq in 2003, but the risk of somehow funding proscribed groups is still enough of a barrier that most international e-payment methods do not connect to Iraq. Paypal and Stripe, among other payment services, have restrictions against operating in Iraq. This means that freelancers based in Iraq cannot be paid by foreign clients, and it also means that Iraqi entrepreneurs cannot easily provide their products or services to customers in other countries.

Conclusion

We are optimists, and understand the magnitude of the impact that these startups will have if they are able to succeed. It is up to us and other members of the ecosystem in Iraq (and globally) to better understand the obstacles that cause technology startups in the country to stumble, so that we can ensure that we provide them with the support necessary to overcome them. Our job is to ensure that our early stage entrepreneurs have the support necessary to launch scalable, innovative businesses.

This Sunday, we launched our first incubator in Sulaimani that is fully focused on tech startups. This program is only possible through the generous support of GIZ, and in partnership with IOM and AsiaCell, who will be providing seed funding and services to our entrepreneurs.

Donors and actors across the country are excited about tech entrepreneurship, and we are looking forward to positive improvements in the ecosystem as more people work hard to make meaningful change.

___________

Five One Labs is a start-up incubator that helps refugees and conflict-affected entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in the Middle East. Launching first in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, we aim to empower individuals to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and to contribute to the economic growth of their communities.

Five One Labs entrepreneurs are provided with training; mentorship by world class entrepreneurs from the USA and the Middle East; and a community of creative changemakers to share their experiences with. 

Our vision is to develop an inclusive network of innovators and entrepreneurs that have the support, skills, and connections to positively change their communities and countries. 

By Alice Bosley and Patricia Letayf, Co-Founders of Five One Labs.

At Five One Labs, we work with idea or early-stage entrepreneurs from diverse communities to launch scalable, innovative businesses. We’ve had the privilege to work with tech startups like Dada, PHARX, Khanoo and more, and deeply understand the struggles that entrepreneurs who pursue apps, SaaS (software as a service), e-commerce solutions and more face in Iraq’s context.

Based on our work in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) over the past two years, we have been able to identify some of the most pressing challenges tech entrepreneurs and the startup community encounter.

The top five challenges are described below:

Challenge 1: Online-based businesses don’t legally exist in Iraq.

Registering businesses in Iraq is a costly and time-intensive process in the best of times, but it is made even more difficult because of the lack of law regulating online or technology businesses. E-commerce sites, SaaS, applications etc are not legally considered businesses, and cannot be registered as such. Entrepreneurs establishing tech startups are often left without the protection and freedom provided by being legally registered.

When entrepreneurs choose to register their tech businesses, they must register as a traditional business and open a brick and mortar location. They could choose to register as an “office,” which is the least expensive choice, but an ‘office’ registration could negatively impact the entrepreneur’s ability to take equity in the future. Other registration choices are more expensive and time-intensive.

The registration challenges that both tech and non-tech business face have been recognized by many, including Orange Corners, an initiative launched by the Dutch Government. In November Five One Labs and Orange Corners will release a “Roadmap” for business registration in the KRI, which will also highlight the registration experience of tech businesses. A similar roadmap will be published by KAPITA on the business registration process for Federal Iraq.

Challenge 2: The digital skills gap in Iraq increases the time and cost of launching a tech startup.

Launching a tech business, be it a mobile application or a website, requires a certain level of digital and technical skills, particularly as the business grows past its initial stages. And if an entrepreneur building a tech startup does not have the technical skills herself, she will need to enlist the support of developers and coders to build more complex prototypes to be able to test her product.

While digital skills and literacy are important for entrepreneurs — be they inside Iraq or outside — the skills gap in the Middle East, especially in Iraq, creates challenges for startup founders in the country. Data on computer programming education and skills are not readily available in Iraq, our experience working working with startups and anecdotal evidence suggests that the shortage of coders in Iraq has increased the time and cost of launching an app- or website-based business.

A number of non-technical founders that have gone through Five One Labs’ incubator program have found that coders and developers can be expensive, which increases their startup costs and causes delays in launching their businesses.

Additionally, a number have had to work remotely with developers, either in other parts of Iraq, or outside of the country entirely, to have their technical needs met, and many have gone through multiple freelance coders or developers in the early stages of the development of their products. Some non-technical founders also delay the hiring of CTOs, either because of the cost or because of a lack of understanding of the importance of having one on board from the outset.

The good news is that this reality is changing quickly, thanks to some amazing organizations across Iraq. Re:Coded, FikraSpace, and Preemptive Love Coalition’s WorkWell Program have been offering high-quality digital skill-building programs across the country to ensure that moving forward, the country’s youth are well-equipped to participate in the digital economy.

Challenge 3: The cost of launching a business is high — and there aren’t many ways that entrepreneurs can find financing to cover these costs.

In addition to the fact that the costs of building apps in Iraq can be high, tech founders also face high legal startup costs.

The lack of regulation regulating tech businesses can make registration more expensive, as entrepreneurs are forced to consult with and shuttle back and forth between multiple ministries and chambers of commerce who may interpret their startup as a different type of business, which impacts the cost.

Regulations also stipulate that businesses must have a physical office, and a lawyer and an accountant on retainer, which are immense costs for someone looking to launch a startup. Around the world many early-stage entrepreneurs, particularly tech founders, operate their registered businesses from home or from coworking spaces, but regulations in the KRI stipulate that an office (with four walls) is required, and so renting an office whereby a business can register from will likely add several hundred (if not thousands) of dollars in expenses for a new business depending on where in the country they are located.

Given these high costs — the million dollar question for tech founders (and entrepreneurs more generally) is where do they go to offset these expenses and find enough capital to build their business? While we will discuss this in more detail in future posts, options for financing in Iraq are extremely limited. For instance, Arabnet’s State of Digital Investments in MENA report for 2013-2018 shows no publicly-reported investments in digital business in Iraq during that period.

Many entrepreneurs thus self-finance or look to family and friends for funding, and for those who are able to find angel investors, the terms can often be stringent, or investors may seek a majority, rather than minority, stake in the company.

Challenge 4: Cash on delivery is still the norm.

Mobile and e-payment options are growing in Iraq. Asia Hawala, Zain Cash and Fast Pay are mobile payment methods that can and will change the way businesses in the country operate. Pre-paid credit cards, like Qi Card and Zain WalletCard, are starting to allow Iraqis to purchase things online that they were previously unable to purchase. However, there are still a number of challenges with e-payments that cause headaches and risk to technology entrepreneurs.

Nevertheless, mobile payment methods are not as widely used as in other countries. Debit card penetration remains low and only 11% of Iraqis have bank accounts, which means that the majority of online purchases still happen through cash on delivery. Cash on delivery causes a number of problems: first, there’s the risk that customers will not actually pay for what they ordered, and the startup will be left with the burden. Some startups, like ShopYoBrand, a startup that purchases and delivers items from international brands like Zara, IKEA and Amazon to Iraq, makes customers pay a small amount of the total up front to provide some insurance.

ShopYoBrand founder Randi Barzinji said:

“Cash is hard to manage… there are a lot of transactions on a daily basis to be calculated manually instead of having an automatic system do it for you. And this is because the majority does not use an e-payment method yet on a daily basis…The challenge is to convince people for them to gain our trust, so that they’ll pay us ahead of time [to reduce risk]…It’s also important that the customer understands that we can’t order anything either without knowing the customer [and trusting them].”

The lack of e-payments makes expansion extremely challenging as well. Startups operating across the country, like grocery delivery app Miswag or last-mile delivery service Sandoog, have to transport cash from across the country to their headquarters, which is dangerous and time consuming. Balancing budgets can take months, with delays in customer payments and then additional delays in cash transportation.

Challenge 5: Lack of international e-payment options makes international expansion challenging without a foreign bank account.

Iraq, to all intents and purposes, is still disconnected from the international financial system for reasons relating to sanctions and the risk of money laundering. While Iraqis can use prepaid cards to pay for some services – like freelance coders – online (though often these cards do not work), it is very hard to receive money from abroad in Iraq.

OFAC lifted the majority of country-wide sanctions against Iraq in 2003, but the risk of somehow funding proscribed groups is still enough of a barrier that most international e-payment methods do not connect to Iraq. Paypal and Stripe, among other payment services, have restrictions against operating in Iraq. This means that freelancers based in Iraq cannot be paid by foreign clients, and it also means that Iraqi entrepreneurs cannot easily provide their products or services to customers in other countries.

Conclusion

We are optimists, and understand the magnitude of the impact that these startups will have if they are able to succeed. It is up to us and other members of the ecosystem in Iraq (and globally) to better understand the obstacles that cause technology startups in the country to stumble, so that we can ensure that we provide them with the support necessary to overcome them. Our job is to ensure that our early stage entrepreneurs have the support necessary to launch scalable, innovative businesses.

This Sunday, we launched our first incubator in Sulaimani that is fully focused on tech startups. This program is only possible through the generous support of GIZ, and in partnership with IOM and AsiaCell, who will be providing seed funding and services to our entrepreneurs.

Donors and actors across the country are excited about tech entrepreneurship, and we are looking forward to positive improvements in the ecosystem as more people work hard to make meaningful change.

___________

Five One Labs is a start-up incubator that helps refugees and conflict-affected entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in the Middle East. Launching first in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, we aim to empower individuals to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and to contribute to the economic growth of their communities.

Five One Labs entrepreneurs are provided with training; mentorship by world class entrepreneurs from the USA and the Middle East; and a community of creative changemakers to share their experiences with. 

Our vision is to develop an inclusive network of innovators and entrepreneurs that have the support, skills, and connections to positively change their communities and countries. 

Hackasuly, the largest international hackathon in Iraq, brings the coding community together over a weekend to work in teams and turn their ideas into technological solutions on September 5th – 7th.

This year, the organisers are accepting projects in three different and exciting tracks:

  • AI & Data Science
  • E-Society
  • Fintech

The goal is to help promote technology, generate more interest in the field, and encourage new innovations.

Venue: 
American University of Iraq, Sulaimani

Agenda:

  • Opening Ceremony, Thursday, 5 September 2019 at 06:00 pm to 08:00pm.
    • Welcoming Speeches
    • The Development of Iraqi Tech Industry Panelmoderated by Alice Bosley, Executive Director at Five One Labs.
      • Speakers:
        • Qubad Talabani, The Deputy Prime Minister
        • Yad Rasheed, CEO at Avesta Group
        • Tarry Singh, CEO at Deepkapha.ai
        • TBA
      • Closing Ceremony, Saturday, 7 September 2019 at 7:00 pm to 9:00pm:
        • Projects Demo and Winners Announcement.

For more information, please visit: https://hackasuly.com

(Source: Hackasuly)

The ISIL conflict displaced 6 million people in Iraq, disrupted the national economy and limited employment opportunities for citizens.

Sixty per cent of jobs in Iraq are in the private sector, within Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs); very large numbers of those businesses experienced loss as a result of the conflict and need support to rebuild.

In Fallujah, for example, an International Organization for Migration (IOM) market assessment found that 69 per cent of construction businesses and 66 per cent of food-related businesses saw their workshops looted or burned between 2014 and 2017. Mosul and numerous other areas also showed high levels of damage and limited access to finance—challenges that EDF is designed to help businesses overcome.

On Monday (05/08), IOM Iraq signed a memorandum of understanding with telecommunications company Asiacell to support innovation under the Enterprise Development Fund (EDF) — a livelihoods programme that contributes to economic recovery and private sector revitalization through tailored support to Small and Medium Enterprises.

The innovation component (EDFi) supports early-stage tech businesses and tech start-ups in Iraq that can contribute to the local economy and create jobs for young people in the tech sector.

“We strongly believe that the engagement of the private sector is a necessary condition for successful and sustainable economic recovery and job creation,” said IOM Chief of Mission Gerard Waite. “IOM Iraq looks forward to a long, productive collaboration with Asiacell, as we work to expand job creation and improve economic opportunities across Iraq.”

“Today marks the start of a strategic partnership between Asiacell and IOM that will bring the EDF-I into effect in Iraq,” added Asiacell CEO Amer Sunna. “Asiacell looks forward to contributing to the development of youth skills and capabilities, and setting the foundation for a powerful and sustainable economy.”

EDF aims to restore essential economic infrastructure by providing financial capital to SMEs in economic sectors that were successful prior to the conflict but suffered loss and damage and have a high demand for labour. By targeting key sectors and providing necessary funding, the EDF encourages rapid but also large-scale job creation. The fund has received hundreds of applications since the pilot phase was launched in September 2018, and 142 business grants have been approved to date.

“After the liberation of Mosul, I sold a small plot of land that I owned and tried my best to reopen my factory,” explained Moufaq Ahmed Mohamed, an EDF beneficiary and owner of an oxygen plant. “I started with only two workers. Later, I received a grant from IOM which enabled me to buy a generator which is crucial to my work.”

“[Before that] I frequently lost hours of work due to sudden power outages,” he continued. “This generator was a boon to my factory; I have been able to produce more, enabling me to hire more people and expand to 11 workers — which means feeding 11 families. This makes me very happy; this kind of support for the private sector contributes to the revival and rebuilding of Mosul.”
EDF forms part of IOM’s work in support of the people and Government of Iraq (GOI) to promote sustainable recovery across the country.

IOM Iraq’s EDF is supported by the USA Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM); the European Commission’s Directorate-General for International Cooperation and Development (DG DEVCO); KfW, the German Development Bank; the Government of the Netherlands; and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

(Source: IOM)

Seedstars World, the largest seed-stage startup competition for emerging markets and fast-growing startup scenes, hosted its Iraq round this Friday, at The Station, where 8 selected startups were invited to present their companies in front of the local jury panel.

The local winners were chosen for their innovative sustainable solutions on their different fields. The 1st winner of the competition was IOT Kids,  an online platform teaching kids how to code using scratch and also direct courses in certain private schools. IOT Kids will go on to represent Iraq at Seedstars Regional Summit.

In second place went to Tabib Baghdad, an online booking platform that connects doctors with patients.

Third place was taken by Ur Transport, a revolutionary airboat eco friendly design which will serve as the major future infrastructure for rivers.

After a careful screening and training on Day 1, the Seedstars team shortlisted 8 of the best seed-stage startups in Iraq who pitched on August 2 for the opportunity to compete at the Seedstars Summit, that annually takes place in Switzerland. The list of the Jury members will included Ali Hili, Youth and Entrepreneurship at Zain Iraq, Bassem Abdel Hadi Hassan, Spokesperson for the Central Bank of Iraq (CBI), Noor Alhandal, Chairman at Ashur International Bank, Khaled Alabadi, Project Manager at GE, Dhafer Hasan, Programme Analyst at UNDP and Anas Al-Chalabi, Business Development Manager at Social n’ Tech

A lot of partners have supported Seedstars at making this event happen. The Main Partners of the Event are Central Bank of Iraq continue to position themselves as great believers in the impact of entrepreneurship. The Local Partners of the event are The Station and Social N’ Tech . Further support is provided by Careem, one of the regions most successful startups, as Entrepreneurship Partners.

In order to provide local entrepreneurs with this opportunity and aiming to deliver the best possible event, Seedstars closely worked with Mohammad Salah, who is representing the initiative throughout the year. “As the Seedstars ambassadors in Baghdad, we’re more than proud to have hosted the competition in Iraq; This event was a massive networking and funding opportunity to the finalists. Bringing Seedstars to Iraq will open the door for other global incubators, accelerators and competitions by encouraging them to expand to Iraq. we are here to make a difference, to create opportunities and give exposure to the ecosystem” explains Mohamad Salah , Managing Director at Social N Tech.

Mira Charkawi, Community Events Manager at Seedstars also said:

“At Seedstars, we believe talent and good ideas are everywhere. We see ourselves as a platform connecting investors to the next generation of startup entrepreneurs in places where normally people wouldn’t think startup ecosystem have such traction, growth and buzz. We are very excited to have been in Baghdad, highlighting such a bustling entrepreneurship ecosystem and we are here to witness the reality”.

Continuing on its world MENA tour, Seedstars World’s next stop is in Cairo taking place at Seedstars Seedspace on the 21&22 of August. Seedstars World is looking for smart startups that solve regional issues and/or develop profitable products for the global market. Startups are invited to apply on the above mentioned websites.

(Source: Seedstars)