Sulaimani Forum Policy Roundtable: Fostering Entrepreneurship & Tech Innovation in Iraq

On Wednesday, March 6, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted a roundtable titled “Fostering Entrepreneurship & Tech Innovation in Iraq” in coordination with the sixth annual Sulaimani Forum. The discussion convened representatives from various startups, incubators and coworking spaces, and government and non-governmental organizations invested in supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The discussion was moderated by Pat Cline, director of the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative, and focused on increasing the technical and entrepreneurial capacity of young Iraqis through university education, private sector funding, and support from government and NGOs. Many of the participants echoed the sentiment of the majority of successful entrepreneurs in...

Research Workshop: Innovation in Startups in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq

On Wednesday, February 20, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted Rava Khorshid, Business Development Manager at the Professional Development Institute at AUIS and candidate at the Masters of Business Administration program at Lahti University of Applied Sciences in Finland, for a workshop discussing the research findings of her masters’ thesis. Over the past year, Rava had been conducting research on innovation in startups in the Kurdistan Region or Iraq (KRI) in an effort to support and inform AEI priorities for entrepreneurs at AUIS and in the local community.

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Community Spotlight: Shapol Majid, Founder of Khanem Fashion

Shapol Majid is the Founder of Khanem Fashion in Sulaimani. We talked to Shapol about her efforts to support female entrepreneurship and empowerment, the challenges of franchising a business in Iraq, and how her experience abroad influenced her goals and work ethic when she decided to start her business in her hometown of Sulaimani.

AEI : Could you briefly describe your business and what inspired you to start it here in Sulaimani?

SM : I have long committed myself to the empowerment of women. I have chosen to do this in a rather...

AUIS Hosts Campus Round of Hult Prize Competition

On Saturday, November 17, 2018, AUIS hosted its first campus round of the Hult Prize Competition , an annual entrepreneurship competition in which college and MBA students around the world present business plans to solve a pressing social issue. At each campus round, a panel of judges evaluates the campus round teams and selects a winning idea to move on to the regional round of the competition. From there, students compete for the chance to join a group of 50 teams at the Hult Castle accelerator program in...

Open Discussion with Yara Salem, World Bank Special Representative to Iraq

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018 the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted an open discussion with Yara Salem, the World Bank’s Special Representative to Iraq, during Women’s Entrepreneurship Week October 13-20. The discussion focused on existing World Bank initiatives in the context of Iraq’s reconstruction, rebuilding, and financial management. It ranged from the social aspects of reconstruction and partnerships with Iraq’s Ministry of Planning to anti-corruption projects and finance for development projects.

Salem focused heavily on the social aspects of reconstruction, namely improvements to the Iraqi education and healthcare systems. She...

Women’s Entrepreneurship Week: A Conversation with Ava Nadir, Ravan Jaafar, and Yara Salem

On Wednesday, October 17, 2018, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative participated in Women’s Entrepreneurship Week in coordination with Montclair State University’s Feliciano Center for Entrepreneurship. AEI hosted Ravan Jaafar, the founder of the Book Cafe Erbil, Ava Nadir, head of Marketing for Zain Kurdistan, and Yara Salem, World Bank Special Representative to Iraq, for a discussion on the female entrepreneurs’ personal challenges and experiences starting their own businesses in the Middle East. Ahmed Tabaqchali, senior AEI advisor, moderated the discussion.

All three women echoed the opinions...

A Parallel Iraq – A thriving entrepreneurial culture has taken root

Originally published in bite.tech by Ahmed Tabaqchali and Emily Burlinghaus in October 2018.

Most of the coverage and analysis of Iraq post-2003—by international, regional, and local journalists and analysts—has focused on the dysfunctional state and warring political elites whose failures to provide basic services to an already alienated population has come in sharp focus during the recent Basra demonstrations. However, despite the vital nature of this coverage, it has missed a new entrepreneurial Iraq—represented by its youth—that has emerged and flourished in the...

Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and Private Sector Growth in Iraq and the KRI: A Roundtable with the Dutch Department of Sustainable Economic Development and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency

On Saturday, September 8, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) hosted the Dutch Consul General in Erbil Willem Cosijn; Second Secretary of the Embassy of the Netherlands in Baghdad Martijn Groen; Senior Policy Officer of the Department of Sustainable Economic Development, Nathalie Gonçalves Aurélio; Policy Officer of Netherlands Enterprise Agency, Sabrina Waltmans; and Policy Officer of the Netherlands Consulate General, Aram Abdallah for a discussion on entrepreneurship, innovation, and private sector growth in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. Participants included entrepreneurs, investors, and private sector advocates from Asia Hawala, Kurdistan Economic Development...

Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship Summit


On Saturday, April 7, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative [AEI], in coordination with the German Corporation for International Cooperation (GiZ), Google Developer Group, and Zain Iraq, hosted the Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship Summit, organized by Five One Labs and Re:Coded. The full day event involved a panel of female entrepreneurs from across Iraq, and “Intro to Coding” and “Launching your Startup” workshops. Both aspects of the event aimed to raise awareness about and explore opportunities for women in technology and entrepreneurship in Iraq through discussion and training.

The panel discussion was moderated by...

Assessing Women's Entrepreneurial Potential in the Aftermath of the Kuwait Conference

On Monday, March 12, the AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative hosted the event, “Assessing Women’s Entrepreneurial Potential in the Aftermath of the Kuwait Conference” as a follow-up to the inaugural IRIS Dialogues held the previous day. The event was designed to be an open discussion to share ideas about increasing women’s participation in Iraq’s entrepreneurship sector.

The discussion was led by Christina Andreassen, Business Development and Education Manager at WOMENA, a Dubai-based angel investment platform geared toward female entrepreneurs in the MENA region; Aziz Al-Nasiri, CEO of Noah’s Ark,...

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