The UN Agency Using Microwork To Empower Refugees In Iraq

Almost a year has passed since the launch of WorkWell. The one-of-a-kind program was initiated by World Food Program’s Tech for Food (T4F), in partnership with the Preemptive Love Coalition and operates in the North of Iraq.

WorkWell is a technological space where students can venture into entrepreneurship, programming, and freelancing. The program targets refugees and displaced persons with the goal of turning them into tech heroes to enter the digital job market.

What They Do

The program initially launched in Sulaimaniya and then expanded to Erbil, Dohuk, and Mosul. Students are selected through a unified assessment and upon passing, are enrolled in basic IT and English courses. Talented students receive further training in either advanced IT (WordPress and graphic design or programming), microwork, or accounting.

Iraq WorkWell Training in Photoshop

In addition to the trainings, T4F piloted a programming course in partnership with Pragmatic Studio. Students learn how to use Arduinos and Raspberry Pis to create projects of their own, such as security systems and self-driving cars. Both initiatives ensure at least 50% of participants are women.

One of the most interesting areas of focus is microwork. In collaboration with FigureEight, T4F trains participants in image annotation for artificial intelligence. Participants also work on other platforms such as TaQadam, Label me, and Amazon Mechanical Turk as well as software development companies such as TruefaceAi. Microworkers are independent and supported by microwork coaches . The best part is that they can gain an income just working through their mobile!

T4F’s main goal is to provide an accessible and sustainable source of income for refugees, displaced Iraqis, and the wider host community. The program culminates in a freelancing training which introduces students to the world of online freelancing. This provides an opportunity for students to leverage their digital skills and build their own businesses and brands.

WorkWell teaching youth

T4F is looking to expand to other cities across Iraq this year. The intention is to provide access to technology to all individuals so that they can work towards a better future.

Read more about refugee initiatives here.

Zahra Shah

I've been working in startups and emerging markets for over 8 years, with a focus on growing tech ecosystems in Palestine and Iraq. I truly believe that Iraq can provide valuable opportunities for businesses looking to launch or expand here, and i'm interested in supporting others who want to venture to a country that people are traditionally skeptical to pursue. A big part of this is to change the current perceptions of Iraq through quality content by highlighting some of the everyday success stories that are overshadowed by other news.

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