On July 24, 2017, the newly-established AUIS Entrepreneurship Initiative (AEI) and FiveOne Labs co-hosted a workshop on design thinking and the entrepreneurial process in partnership with the Nishtiman Youth Network. The workshop was facilitated by Alice Bosley, Executive Director of Five One Labs, and IRIS Research Fellow Aaron Bartnick, future MBA candidate at the University of Oxford.
The workshop drew 50 students from six universities across the region, including AUIS.
After a brief welcome from the workshop facilitators, AUIS President Professor Bruce Walker Ferguson offered opening remarks on the role that entrepreneurship can play in supporting societal change, and emphasized the entrepreneurial potential of Iraq and the Kurdistan Region. Professor Hemin Latif followed these remarks with an overview of the three attributes he considers to be essential to an entrepreneurial mindset: the innovative vision to see unmet needs and come up with new solutions, the willingness to take risks, and the resilience to stick with a venture over the long term, despite the inevitable setbacks encountered along the way.
Bosley then led the group in an hour-long “design sprint,” in which participants paired off and conducted several iterations of user research before designing a product to help meet a need they uncovered. This process, she explained in conclusion, is exactly how you should be approaching your startup ideas.
AEI is a research and advocacy program focused on improving Iraq and the Kurdistan Region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. AEI will continue to host events like this one throughout the year, while publishing research like the recently released report, “Obstacles and Opportunities for Entrepreneurship in Iraq and the Kurdistan Region.”
Five One Labs is a start-up incubator that helps refugees and conflict-affected entrepreneurs launch and grow their businesses in the Middle East. Launched first in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, Five One Labs aim to empower individuals to rebuild their lives and livelihoods and to contribute to the economic growth of their communities.