Since our previous article, 10 Technology Startups in Iraq You Need to Know About, we wanted to introduce you to another amazing eight startups making waves in the country’s tech scene. From fintech and tourism to the medical field, these startups in Iraq have overcome significant challenges to launch their businesses and are constantly striving to stay ahead.
1. Bil Weekend بالعطلة
We start off this list with the first tourism startup operator in Iraq. Bil Weekend promotes cultural tourism through visits to heritage sites, sports tourism and adventure trips. The startup hopes to revive tourism in Iraq for both international visitors and locals.
Most weekends you’ll see the Baghdad-based team organise boat trips in places like the Iraqi marshlands or climbing the ruins of Babylon. With its cultural focus, the team hopes to encourage communication and awareness about the country’s rich heritage inside and outside of the country.
2. Metapharma ميتافارما
Solving a different problem in Iraq is Metapharma, a client focused, B2B platform designed to facilitate pharmaceutical wholesale and logistics. The Baghdad startup hopes to eradicate the rudimentary practices in Iraq’s pharmaceutical wholesale market by working with pharmacies to help them find their supplies at competitive prices. They also work to enable wholesalers to identify demand and accordingly adjust prices and inventories. MetaPharma commits to settling all orders directly from warehouses.
3. Alsareea3 السريع
In an effort to make food delivery easy from your favourite restaurant, Baghdad startup Alsareea3 offers an app and website for people to order. Formerly known as Wajbatey, the platform memorises users’ food history for faster future checkouts and provides order tracking.
4. Obr Taxi تكسي اوبر
You guessed it, a ride-hailing service that not only sounds like Uber but acts like it too! Obr operates in multiple cities across Iraq and offers affordable taxi rides with trained drivers.
5. Pure Platform بيور بلاتفورم
With a focus on targeting the struggles that many cash economies face across the world, fintech startup Pure Platform is creating a no fee, peer-to-peer ecosystem. Utility tokens, called Kidus, can be used to purchase products and services from local and online stores at low prices.
6. Hili هيلي
Inspired by Iraqi heritage, Hili sells handmade items from local artisans. The original and intricate products vary from herbal soaps, notebooks and coasters. Find them at Baghdad or Basrah airport on your next visit!
7. Code Lab كود لاب
On the education side, Code Lab is a Baghdad-based initiative to enable Iraqi software developers to create high-quality software products through intensive trainings and online videos. Using best practices, the team focuses on teaching clean and efficient code to create scalable and maintainable software.
8. Dada Babysitting داده
The first of its kind in the country, this startup provides babysitting services through a simple mobile app. Operating in Sulaimaniya, Dada Babysitting connects parents with local babysitters in their area to hire them on-call.
A trend can be seen as most startups originate from Baghdad. 30% of Iraq’s population lives in the capital city and the median age is 20, which makes for a huge youth market to cater to. Baghdad is a good starting point for any young business to validate product-market fit, and then expand to other cities.
Still, challenges persist with only 14% of Iraqis buying online and 6% possessing a credit card or mobile money account. Until there is increased trust in financial institutions and e-payments, many online businesses will struggle to automate processes which will make it increasingly difficult to scale. The element of face-to-face customer service is extremely important to succeed in Iraq, in order to build trust among consumers and businesses.
A unique merge of traditional business practices with technology is how most startups are able to survive. Even if transactions are done online via mobile or web, payment is usually made in cash in-person.
We hope to see more fintech startups in the long-term and awareness raising initiatives to encourage the wider population to adopt alternative payment methods.