The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani (AUIS) launched one of the first accelerator programs in Iraq – the Takween Accelerator. As part of the Yanhad project, the program aims to promote civic engagement and entrepreneurship among Iraqi youth. Having launched in June 2020, the accelerator is funded by the European Union and the Crisis and Support Center of the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, and is implemented by Expertise France and AUIS.
The Takween Accelerator was created to help growth-stage technology businesses scale. The program provides equity-free seed capital, an intensive training program, international mentorship, and access to an exclusive investors and ecosystem partners network. The goal is to improve the development of the private sector and create jobs in the country.
The Takween Accelerator runs an intensive 12-week program introducing startups to concepts and ideas for building successful businesses. The topics covered include leadership and growth mindset, business finance, product development, marketing, growth hacking and investor readiness. Takween provides access to local free legal counsel and free licensing for Quickbooks as just two of the perks of being in the program, along with direct access to mentors and investors. During the program, the startups commit to a minimum of nine hours a week of online sessions and meetings, plus assignments and implementing changes in their business based on what they are learning. Once the startups are investment ready, they start pitching to international investors to get the funding needed for their next growth cycle.
The Fall 2020 Cohort Startups
The Fall 2020 Cohort included some of the top startups in the country.
A marketplace that lets customers buy high-quality products from authorised suppliers conveniently and quickly. The Dakakenna app is available on both Android and iOS devices and contains over 8,000 original products.
2. One Connect
A social media management platform for the MENA region, helping companies manage and automate content marketing in three languages.
3. FAM Academy
FAM Academy is a certified pre-marriage counselling service with a platform for family and relationship counselling. Their aim is to increase the wellbeing of families in the MENA region.
4. FIX IT
A web platform and a mobile app that lets customers find vetted professionals to fix and repair things around their homes.
5. IOT KIDS
A platform which teaches children robotics, games designs, and electronics.
KurdCoin is a cryptocurrency exchange service, making it easy and accessible for people to buy and trade in cryptocurrencies locally and internationally.
7. Mr Erbil
A direct-to-consumer lifestyle brand of men’s clothing that aims to break the internet once again.
A direct-to-consumer healthy lifestyle food brand that aims to make healthy organic food accessible for millions through its platform.
Rescue Project is an online educational platform that aims to prepare students for the biggest and most important exam in their high school year.
An e-commerce store focused on handmade, vintage items and craft supplies in Iraq.
Cloud based SaaS platform transforming the healthcare sector in Iraq by digitising clinics, laboratories, hospitals and pharmacies and connecting them all together.
12. The Workshop
An online educational platform that provides fresh graduates with the soft skills needed to succeed in the 21st Century, addressing the gap in most traditional schools.
Takween’s Startup Demo Day
Takween hosted a Demo Day on the 9th of December, where all 12 of the startups pitched their businesses to a local and international audience.
I am very impressed with the skills and resilience of the startups in KRI and Iraq. We received very positive feedback from the investors who attended the Demo Day event and several startups have already been contacted by those investors.Eileen Brewer, Accelerator Director
A Real Step Forward
Accelerators are not a common trend in Iraq, but this is an excellent first step in supporting existing businesses to grow and navigate a complex ecosystem. The Takween Accelerator will not only give opportunities to growing businesses, which do not usually receive as much support as incubatees, but it will also be a stepping stone in creating a bigger network of partners, mentors, and investors for the growth of Iraq’s economy.
Applications are now open for the Spring 2021 Cohort. All startups meeting these requirements should apply before the deadline of January 31, 2021 here.
- Have a Startup based in the Kurdistan Region (KRI) or Iraq
- Have been running your startup for a minimum of two years
- Are currently generating revenue
- Have a technology-based business
- Are currently looking to grow your business and looking for outside investment
- Fluent in English; writing and speaking