AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative

The Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) is in the midst of a deep recession, but has limited policy levers to stimulate economic growth. Private sector growth is therefore necessary to drive economic progress. However, the KRI currently lacks the infrastructure, mentorship, and capital necessary to support an emerging generation that is interested in entrepreneurship.

To help meet this need, we have launched the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) to promote entrepreneurship across the KRI and Iraq and empower Iraq’s next generation of entrepreneurs. In June 2017, AUIS’ Institute of Regional and International Studies (IRIS) brought together over two dozen entrepreneurs, investors, industry leaders, and government officials from across the Middle East for a full-day discussion of the challenges facing Iraqi entrepreneurs and how all stakeholders can collaborate to build a sustainable private sector. In July 2017, the results of this discussion and months of independent research were published in the IRIS report, “Obstacles and Opportunities for Entrepreneurship in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq.

AUIS continues to work with private and public sector leaders to advance the political, economic, and social changes necessary to create a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem in Iraq, and is currently exploring the development of an entrepreneurship lab to support emerging entrepreneurs across the Sulaimani region, KRI, and beyond.

For additional information, please contact IRIS at

This initiative has been undertaken with the support of



AUIS Global Entrepreneurship Week

On November 16, 2017, IRIS hosted an informal discussion and Q & A session with entrepreneurs in the Kurdistan Region and Iraq as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week (“GEW”), a weeklong worldwide event hosted by the Global Entrepreneurship Network (“GEN”). GEN is a group aimed at providing support to aspiring entrepreneurs through access to investors, researchers, and policymakers across 170 countries. Each year since November 2008, it has hosted GEW to celebrate the achievements and experiences of entrepreneurs through activities, competitions, and networking events.

AEI and Five One Labs Host Workshop on Design Thinking and the Entrepreneurial Process

On July 24, 2017, IRIS and the newly-established AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) hosted a workshop on design thinking and the entrepreneurial process in partnership with FiveOne Labs and the Nishtiman Youth Network. The workshop was facilitated by Alice Bosley, Executive Director of FiveOne Labs, and IRIS Research Fellow Aaron Bartnick, future MBA candidate at the University of Oxford. Read more.