4 Entrepreneurship Programs Iraqis Can Apply To Right Now

Entrepreneurship programs aim to create a collaborative community for entrepreneurs to learn from successful businessmen and women, and experienced trainers. These programs shed light on the challenges facing startups and help guide entrepreneurs through developing their businesses with mentorship, trainings, and financing.

There are growing efforts and programs to support Iraqi entrepreneurs and those interested in starting their own businesses. These efforts play a role in growing the Iraqi economy, as well as providing an opportunity for young people to transform their ideas into innovative and successful projects and in turn, create jobs.

August is a busy month for many of these entrepreneurship programs which you can apply to right now! Read below to find the right one for you and your startup.

1. Takween Accelerator

Takween Accelerator

The American University of Iraq, Sulaimani AUIS) Entrepreneurship Initiative and Yanhad Project have launched a business accelerator. If you haven’t heard about Takween before now, that’s because they just launched it this month.

The Takween Accelerator aims to support the startup ecosystem in Iraq by providing product and market development, with a focus on investment readiness. 

Takween is offering an online intensive, 12-week training accelerator, free of charge. They will be selecting startups and small business ventures which have generated revenue, are tech-enabled and are ready to grow. 

All startups from any location in Iraq can apply. Sessions will be delivered online, so no travel is required. If your company is not tech-enabled yet, but you desire to use technology in your business soon, then you can still apply. Tech-enabled means the company is using the internet, mobile devices, or social media to improve their primary business.

Why Apply?

  • This is ideal for businesses operating for at least two years and looking to expand their operations
  • You can be anywhere in Iraq to apply
  • There is no equity share to participate 
  • Takween offers a financial allowance for full participation 
  • You’ll receive access to training, mentors, and investors
  • You’ll have intensive training to improve your leadership, HR, and finance skills, among many others 
  • The focus is on preparing startups for the due diligence process with investors 
  • You will receive one-to-one mentorship and access to global subject matter experts 
  • Global investors will attend the Demo Day
  • Seed funding is offered to the top performing startups
  • Perfect for English speaking founders

Requirements

  • You must be fluent in English
  • You should be running your business for at least two years. But you can still apply if it has been less
  • You will have to commit to a minimum of six hours per week in sessions
  • Business must be tech-enabled
  • Business must be generating revenue
  • Business must be located in Iraq
  • You must join weekly calls with mentors and accelerator staff
  • You must be pitch ready on Demo day
  • You must have a high participation level

Program Dates & Fees

13th September to 5th December 2020

Free / no equity

Deadline

30th August at 11.59pm

Link

2. Orange Corners Baghdad

Orange Corners Baghdad is an incubation program lasting six months. The program operates in over 14 cities across the world and is funded by the Dutch government. KAPITA is implementing the program in Baghdad and is a newly formed company with a mission to support and develop entrepreneurship and startups. Orange Corners, through its experience in Africa and the Middle East, believes that entrepreneurship is the best solution for unemployment. 

As part of the program, startups are provided with a co-working space and intensive training. They have two programs per year and recently finished their first one. Applications for their second program is now open.

Why Apply?

  • You’ll receive diverse training sessions including resource management, marketing and communication and research
  • You’ll get business development support to help you assess risks, develop networking skills and better determine market needs
  • The program focuses on connecting you with local markets and established Iraqi business leaders
  • You’ll have a chance to pitch at masterclasses and public events where investors also attend
  • This is a good option if you are a beginner and want to learn more about turning your idea into a real business
  • You only need some basic English skills to apply as this program is catered to Arabic speakers
  • A good opportunity to expand your network within Iraq

Application Process

The application process consists of two phases:

  1. Online application. The application form becomes available on the official website prior to the beginning of each six-month cycle. Fill in all required fields and submit via the online application form submit button.
  2. Bootcamp. The 50 semi-finalists will be invited to participate in a compulsory two-day-long Bootcamp in which a jury decides who is best placed to join the incubation program. Selection will be conducted according to the performance during the Bootcamp. At the end of the Bootcamp, 20 young Iraqi entrepreneurs will be selected to participate for six months.

Requirements

  • You must be between 18 and 35 years old.
  • You must have at least a high school diploma or a bachelor’s degree.
  • Be ready to submit an innovative start-up idea or an established start-up that should not be more than a year old.
  • You must have excellent communication skills, both oral and written in Arabic.
  • You should have adequate English language skills.
  • Have commercial awareness and a proactive approach.
  • Be passionate about business and entrepreneurship.
  • Be committed and disciplined.
  • Have excellent organisational and prioritisation skills, and stick to deadlines.
  • Be an enthusiastic individual who is willing to learn and make a difference.

Program Dates & Fees

September 2020 to February 2021

Free / no equity

Deadline

21st August at 11.59pm

Link

3. Flat6labs Bahrain

Flat6Labs Bahrain is a startup accelerator operating in the Middle East and North Africa region with locations in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Lebanon, Tunisia, Bahrain, and soon, Morocco. The aim of Flat6Labs is to accelerate and launch both local and international startups in Bahrain.

Flat6Labs offerings

Flat6Labs support innovation and passion-driven entrepreneurs. They offer $32,000 in seed investment and non-cash benefits in their four month program. The Flat6Labs accelerator network enables startup to access over 300 mentors and cross border business and legal support to scale their businesses internationally.

Why Apply?

  • If you’re looking for international experience and a larger pot of seed funding in exchange for up to 10% equity
  • You’ll receive strategic mentorship, office-space, entrepreneurship-focused business training, hands-on market and business model deep dives
  • You will have subject matter one-to-one sessions
  • You will receive a multitude of perks and services from partners (over $300,000+).
  • Flat6Labs has a vast network of entities, partners, educational institutions, advisors, mentors, coaches and investors.
  • This is a good option if you see your startup expanding outside of Iraq and into other countries in the Middle East

Application Process

  1. Interviews two months before the program starts. The interview will last 30 minutes with the aim of getting to know the founders and understand who they are, why they are building the company, how well they know their market, and what problems they have identified
  2. Bootcamp and Selection Committee: The top 20 teams are invited to attend a five day bootcamp which includes intensive workshops for teams to develop and test their business model. At the end of the bootcamp, teams will pitch their startup in front of the selection committee who will decide which team will participate in the program.
  3. Company Registration: The chosen startups will then begin the onboarding process which includes company registration, signing term papers, and legal agreements. Upon completion, startups can begin operating as a fully incorporated business.
Flat6Labs Selection Process

Requirements

  • You must be fully dedicated to the program for four months.
  • You must be in Bahrain during the four month program period.

Program Dates & Fees

November 2020 to February 2021

Free / 10% equity

Deadline

25th September 2020

Link

4. Baghdad Business School

Baghdad Business School (BBS) is a market-driven “education to employment” program established by the Iraqi Fund for Higher Education (IFHE). IFHE is a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to providing new educational and employment opportunities for Iraqi youth both locally and abroad to develop the knowledge, skills, and ability that they need to be active and productive members of their communities, their country, and the world.

BBS coordinates internships and jobs for its graduates with private sector companies operating in Iraq. It is both professional and academic in that it will maintain high standards of quality and integrity, and incorporate research and critical thinking with practical business skills.

Baghdad Business School

They offer a ten-month intensive bridge curriculum with English, Business, and Professional Skills designed to prepare Iraqi university graduates for work with leading private-sector firms in sectors such as marketing, finance, banking, and accounting. 

Why Apply?

  • Ideal if you’re not planning to start a business yet but you are interested in entrepreneurship and struggling to find work
  • The program will not have more than 12 students which means every individual’s needs will be met
  • You’ll learn key skills not found in other programs such as learning business English, and professional skills
  • Perfect for people looking to start their career in the private sector
  • You’ll learn business, accounting, finance, and marketing
  • You’ll also learn critical thinking, research and report writing, presentations and communication, and workplace etiquette and norms

Application Process

  • Applications will be reviewed as they are received until the deadline of September 20. For first consideration, submit your application as soon as possible. 
  • Finalists will be contacted for interviews, an English assessment test and references.
  • You will hear back about your application within two weeks of submission.

Requirements

  • You must be a self-motivated learner looking to improve your skills in order to join the workforce.
  • You have to be an engaged and proactive learner in this program inside and outside of the classroom.
  • Be at beginner-high level in English (A2 in CEFR or Common European Framework for Reference; please refer to online resources to learn more about CEFR and Level A2 here and here).
  • You must be in your final year of university or a graduate of a university or institute.
  • You must be under the age of 30.
  • Must be unemployed or only partially employed.
  • Demonstrated interest in and commitment to working in the private sector or entrepreneurship.
  • Able to access the internet and a computer or iPad.
  • You must be living in Baghdad.

Program Dates & Fees

October 2020 to September 2021

$750

Deadline

20th September 2020

Link

Analysis

Entrepreneurship in Iraq is moving at great speeds and these programs provide an opportunity for a large number of passionate entrepreneurs to start their business. As each program caters to different types of entrepreneurs at different stages of their business, there should be an option available for every startup.

Although some programs are based on location, others are also adapting to a post-COVID society and offering online courses. Whether you’re an online or in-person learner, you’re bound to find something for you.

Fatimah Oleiwi

I'm an English to Arabic translator, social media marketer, and copywriter who believes in the power of writing and words. I am interested in technology and entrepreneurship, and a supporter of innovation and capacity building in Iraq.

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