- UNITAR, Division for Prosperity, held an online conference “Empower the Youth: Fostering Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Iraq” on 25 March 2022.
- In commemoration of UNITAR’s training in Iraq for the past six years, the conference aimed to identify the most pressing problems among Iraqi youth entrepreneurs and consolidate potential solutions to encourage accessibility and growth.
- Inclusive entrepreneurship can support women, youth, and the unemployed to create and grow their own businesses and make a positive impact in their communities.
- Panellists talked about how start-ups can access finance, grow their networks, engage youth, and hire and nurture talent.
3 May 2022, Hiroshima, Japan — 65 participants joined the UNITAR online conference “Empower the Youth: Fostering Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Iraq.” In commemoration of UNITAR’s training in Iraq for the past six years, the conference aimed to identify the most pressing problems among Iraqi youth entrepreneurs and consolidate potential solutions to encourage accessibility and growth. The conference was conducted in partnership with GREEN CHARTER Foundation for Water and Environmental Consulting, KAPTA Business Hub, SANAD for Economic Development, and The Station Foundation for Entrepreneurs.
The event was moderated by Ms. Clare Gately, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation, Waterford Institute of Technology, Ireland.
In her opening remarks, Director of the UNITAR Division for Prosperity Ms. Mihoko Kumamoto highlighted inclusive entrepreneurship as a goal to support individuals from disadvantages groups such as women, youth, and the unemployed.
Inclusive entrepreneurship helps all people regardless of their social, economic background, educational level or technical skills will have the opportunities to create and grow their own businesses and make a positive impact in their community. —Mihoko Kumamoto, Director, UNITAR Division for Prosperity
First Secretary of the Embassy of Japan in Iraq Ms. Mayuko Hori also emphasized the significant role of youth in shaping the future of Iraq. She expressed gratitude to UNITAR for helping to hone the skills of today’s youth.
Session 1: Profiling the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem in Iraq
The first session focused on the current entrepreneurial landscape in Iraq with three panellists:
- Mr. Mohammed Ameen, Programmes Officer, The Station Foundation for Entrepreneurs
- Mr. Mohammed Jamal, Managing Director for Research, KAPITA Business Hub
- Mr. Sameh W. Al-Muqdadi, General Manager, GREEN CHARTER Foundation for Water and Environmental Consulting; CEO, SANAD for Economic Development
The moderator, Ms. Gately, asked the panellists two questions:
- How can start-ups increase their ability to access financing?
- How can we change the youth’s perception of the private sector and encourage them to participate instead of relying on the public sector for employment?
One way to increase a start-up’s access to finance would be to partner with microfinance institutions while developing its business model to support the environment and community. Changing the youth’s perception of the private sector will be difficult, but could be addressed by showcasing how the private sector is a valid and exciting career choice.
Session 2: Profiling Iraq’s Entrepreneurs
The second session introduced three presenters:
- Mr. Marvin Ahmed Jabbar, Vice President of Commercial Development and People, Miswag
- Ms. Basima Abdulrahman, Founder and CEO, KESK
- Ms. Samar Al Mafraji, General Manager, AMS/Iraq
The presenters talked about the role of entrepreneurship in their respective sectors. During the open forum, they discussed recruitment strategies and how starting entrepreneurs can grow their networks. They agreed that talent recruitment does not end with hiring but continues with investment in staff and fostering their potential.
One speaker recommended that start-ups move away from traditional interviews and use hiring processes that do not completely depend on CVs, to help avoid biases that may overlook a candidate’s strengths. When asked about growing networks, the speakers suggested that starting entrepreneurs connect with supportive networks through volunteer work, reaching out to potential clients and partners, attending regional entrepreneur events, and sharing their journey and milestones.
The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) offers innovative learning solutions to enhance global and country-level action for a better future. The Division for Prosperity, based in Hiroshima, Japan, trains present and future change-makers from developing countries, particularly youth and women, to address growing inequalities and shape an inclusive, sustainable and prosperous world.
UNITAR has been training young innovators in Iraq since 2016. The 2021-2022 entrepreneur programme was conducted with the financial support from the Government and People of Japan. In the 2021 Great Ideas Space programmes including the one for Iraqi participants, over 1780 entrepreneurs globally developed their skills to unlock solutions to deal with complex challenges of today: Poverty, youth unemployment, social inequality, climate change, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.