start-ups


How Iraqi Entrepreneurs can Raise Startup Money Without a Loan

By Hal Miran, Editor-in-Chief, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

How Iraqi Entrepreneurs can Raise Startup Money Without a Loan

Raising money for your business is always a challenge. Every startup must prepare and plan in detail how they intend to raise funds for their new startup.

In countries like Iraq, the lack of access to bank loans makes it more difficult for tech entrepreneurs to raise money for their company. This is made trickier by a lack of angel or venture capital money. So, what can you do to raise startup money without a loan?

1. First, look on the bright side!

First of all, looking for business financing externally should be your last option, not your first. When it comes to venture capital or angel investment, you give up a portion of your company in exchange for money and often, strategic advice and help. But, it usually comes with a lot of conditions attached.

2. Bootstrap your way to tech startup success

Bootstrapping is the process of financing a new company with minimal financial resources. It is the first method to raise startup financing that every tech entrepreneur should look into.

A great bootstrapping strategy typically involves using your own money and asking people close to you to invest. This is coupled with clever use of the money you have to make it go as far as possible towards your business success.

Where possible, use free resources and study how to implement growth hacking principles to accelerate your growth at minimal or zero cost. There are now so many incredible business resources online that are free and weren’t available for the tech startup entrepreneur of ten years ago.

How can you raise bootstrapping money for your startup? Here are the most immediate options:

a. Your own personal money

b. Ask your friends and family

c. Attend essential networking events such as hackathons and bootcamps to meet potential investors and make new contacts

Startup Hub Focus: Baghdad

By Lara Saeed, Managing Editor, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Over the course of the past year, the Iraqi startup ecosystem has been through tremendous development. Numerous startup events and boot camps have resulted in the early stages of an ecosystem. Baghdad, as the capital city with the largest market, has seen a strong number of stratups that are now beginning to take shape as businesses.

Unfortunately, it is not always that simple getting information from businesses in our culture but below are some of the hottest startups in Baghdad who are willing to share their stories.

  1. Miswag, founded by Ammar Ameen

Miswag was founded in the year 2013 and is one of the first startups in Baghdad. Miswag is an online store that adopted a model similar to Amazon. The startup provides a cross-platform site and mobile application as the main sales channels that allow Iraqi based customers to place their order directly. The startup also offers delivery services to its customers.

The startup is independently funded and has been generating income since the year 2015, it made over 1.1 billion Iraqi dinars in sales in the year 2016.

Miswag plans to invest further in their inventory as they plan to become the biggest e-commerce platform in Iraq in terms of user base.

The startup covers all over Iraq with two main operation centers, one in Baghdad and the other in the Kurdistan region.

The team currently consists of 11 employees and are aiming at a 50% staff increase within the next 12 months as they plan to establish another operation center in Basra.

Startup Hub Focus: Baghdad

By Lara Saeed, Managing Editor, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Over the course of the past year, the Iraqi startup ecosystem has been through tremendous development. Numerous startup events and boot camps have resulted in the early stages of an ecosystem. Baghdad, as the capital city with the largest market, has seen a strong number of stratups that are now beginning to take shape as businesses.

Unfortunately, it is not always that simple getting information from businesses in our culture but below are some of the hottest startups in Baghdad who are willing to share their stories.

  1. Miswag, founded by Ammar Ameen

Miswag was founded in the year 2013 and is one of the first startups in Baghdad. Miswag is an online store that adopted a model similar to Amazon. The startup provides a cross-platform site and mobile application as the main sales channels that allow Iraqi based customers to place their order directly. The startup also offers delivery services to its customers.

The startup is independently funded and has been generating income since the year 2015, it made over 1.1 billion Iraqi dinars in sales in the year 2016.

Miswag plans to invest further in their inventory as they plan to become the biggest e-commerce platform in Iraq in terms of user base.

The startup covers all over Iraq with two main operation centers, one in Baghdad and the other in the Kurdistan region.

The team currently consists of 11 employees and are aiming at a 50% staff increase within the next 12 months as they plan to establish another operation center in Basra.

Iraq Tech Ecosystem Map 2017

By Lara Saeed (pictured), Managing Editor, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Over the past 6 months, we at Bite.Tech have been mapping out the startup ecosystem in Iraq which consists of all the stakeholders who directly add value and and drive the startup ecosystem providing entrepreneurs, investors, and new comers with an overall guide of the ecosystem.

With this map we can also identify the main challenges the Iraq’s startup ecosystem faces and the initiatives the Iraqi ecosystem needs to go through for it to become a high-potential site amongst regional startup ecosystems. For example, a notable missing section on the map is investments/funding.

E-commerce:

  1. Chanbar is an online platform that allows merchants to create online stores within 24 hours, users can start to sell products online immediately after a simple setup. Payment can be made through Zain cash.

CO-Working Space

  1. Tech Hub: the first tech focused co-working space in Iraq, the Erbil location is already accommodating several startups and is running workshops, with a Baghdad branch soon to follow.

Media:

  1. Bite.Tech is an online newsletter published in English covering the tech startup ecosystem of Iraq and Iraqi Kurdistan.

Events:

  1. HackaErbil: a two-day hackathon, participants are required to present new and innovative projects.
  2. Startup Weekend: Powered by Google, Startup Weekend teaches its participants how to network and build their startups within 54 hours.
  3. Pitch Bootcamp: a two-day career accelerator program that helps participants develop their skills, and improves their chances of finding jobs. The concept is from Spark Agency in Portugal who have organized these events around the world.
  4. Rwanga: the NGO running the Rwanga Awards. The event is open to anyone who wishes to showcase their work in the fields of writing, photography, scientific discoveries and many more.

Maker Space:

  1. Fikra Space: an open space in Baghdad for people who have common interests in computers, technology, science, arts and other fields.
  2. Science Camp: a space for anyone with interest in computing technology, digital arts, design, green energy, recycling & digital arts run in Basra?

Education:

  1. Al-Mansour University Incubator: The incubator is located in Al-Mansour University. They guide and support entrepreneurs through brain storming sessions, business analysis and more.
  2. MSELECT: a staffing agency with a training academy offering internationally certified public and private courses in business, IT, soft skills, vocational subjects and more.
  3. Re:Coded: the mission is to equip refugees and vulnerable youth in conflict affected areas with fundamental coding skills and professional experience that together create access to careers in technology.
  4. Code Lab: an intensive software development boot camp that meets virtually on Facebook. The boot camp focuses on writing clean and efficient code to produce scalable and maintainable software products.

 

5 Reasons why Kurdistan will Power Iraqi Tech Growth

By Hal Miran, Editor-in-Chief, Bite.Tech. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

Iraqi Kurdistan, or the Kurdistan Region, is the autonomous region in the north of Iraq. Its economy is mainly powered by oil, and to a lesser extent other industries. Its capital city is Erbil, its government is known as the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) – and it is set to power Iraq’s tech ecosystem growth.

Why Kurdistan will power Iraqi tech growth:

1. It Is Secure, Developed And Has A Strong Business Culture

The Kurdistan Region has enjoyed relative stability during recent periods of conflict in Iraq and isn’t really at risk of disruption from ISIL. It is this security coupled with developmental funding in the region since before 2003 that has allowed it to advance much quicker than the rest of Iraq.

Helped enormously by continued infrastructural investment and a liberal investment policy, which has attracted a lot of foreign money into the region, Kurdistan has become a real enterprise hub. In recent years Erbil’s skyline has been dotted increasingly with new hotels, luxury apartment buildings and office complexes, with demand making the city increasingly a cosmopolitan centre in the Middle East.

2. Its Oil And Gas Sector Provides A Reliable Revenue Stream

While the growing tech ecosystem will diversify Iraq’s economy away from a reliance on natural resources, oil and gas revenue trickles down into other areas of the country. Iraqi Kurdistan, with its massive oil and gas reserves, relies heavily on this sector. Due to its natural resource riches, Iraqi Kurdistan benefits from a trickle-down economy – oil and gas revenue goes towards investment of all kinds in the region.

3. The KRG Has Invested Heavily In Infrastructure

Erbil, the region’s capital city, counts on high speed internet, a wide range of commercial office space, and significant investment in city development. Erbil and Sulaimaniyah are home to two new international airports, with a third under construction in Duhok. Infrastructure development across the region continues, and although some Kurds would argue that money could be better spent, the KRG continues to invest heavily in improving the region’s infrastructure.

Iraqi Entrepreneurs find Success in Smartphone Apps

By John Lee.

At a time when the government is strapped for cash and looking to the private sector to create jobs, Iraq’s young, tech-savvy entrepreneurs are finding business opportunities in mobile apps.

So says a report from Associated Press, which list examples including:

  • Wajbety (“My Meal”): a popular food ordering and delivery app based in Baghdad. It was co-founded by Ahmed Subhi, who has previously set up the Baghdad-based IT Training House Company;
  • Ujra (“Fare”): a ride-hailing app similar to Uber, set up by Ali al-Khateeb.

More details here.

(Source: Associated Press)

Iraqi Entrepreneurship Centre

By Aziz Al Nassiri.

Proposition

Even though Iraq is an oil producing country, it is now with 35% of its population living below the poverty line. Unemployment running at 60% among the youth sector (17-25). Almost all important social indicators places the country among the bottom 5% of countries in the world. The country has been in a continuous state of crisis for the last 35 years. The reasons for the current economic stagnation are:

  • Lack of economic policy
  • Corruption at all levels and has become institutional within both public and private sectors
  • The dominance of the state over the majority of economic activities
  • Flight of investment capital outside the country and low level of external investment coming into the country
  • A state of nil or negligible adherence to laws

Any effort to rejuvenate the Iraqi economy must involve the large scale creation of new job opportunities. Given the lack of funds available, it follows that the only means of increasing economic activities is through entrepreneurship. What is required is a massive number of entrepreneurial projects to be initiated, incubated and supported through a network of organizations dedicated to the cause of successful startups.

RiTS itself an entrepreneurial Iraqi company, having spent most of 2016 establishing Iraq’s first incubator dedicated to the graduates of Al Mansour University College. Then followed that by establishing Iraq’s first Crowdsourcing gathering, currently hosted on Linked in but shortly to go on the air as an independent self-contained resource that brings together Iraqi entrepreneurs and experienced professionals from around the world to combine their efforts, knowledge and money to support new startups in Iraq.

This initiative has already led to 2 new ventures being established. A new division within RiTS to produce 3D printed mechanical prosthetic hands for Iraqi disabled children [http://tinyurl.com/hjehpz9]. Also a joint venture involving migrant Iraqis residing in the USA to establish an offshore team of programmers established in Iraq servicing contracts with major US corporations.

In addition to the above initiatives, we have also carried out efforts to survey the Iraqi entrepreneurship scene. We followed this by holding meetings and discussions with as many players in the field as we can find. This also included meetings with relevant government entities at Ministries of Higher Education & Research, and Labour & Social Affairs.

The conclusion we reached from all these interactions is that entrepreneurship in Iraq is at its embryonic stage. The oldest initiative [Fikra Space] was only started in 2014. Today we have a number of players working in this field, but they are all working as separate islands. In order to accelerate entrepreneurship we need to create an ecosystem that integrates all efforts, and to focus all our activities on a single objective. That of creating new job opportunities. This is a simple metric that can be easily measured and helps us plan the size and timescale of our activities as individual organizations.

The Growth of the Iraqi Tech Ecosystem

By Hal Miran, Editor-in-Chief, Bite.Tech.

It might be surprising to know that the region of the Middle East has become a blossoming entrepreneurial, tech startup hub. From Jordan to Lebanon and Iran to Egypt, the region has made significant progress with innovation driving tech startup growth. Israel has more startups per capita than anywhere else in the world.

Iraq has been the notable absentee from this tech ecosystem growth. Over the last 18 months Bite.Tech has dedicated time researching the Iraqi tech ecosystem, along with a group of committed, talented writers and entrepreneurs. We believe that we are on the verge of imminent breakthroughs and of establishing our own strong tech ecosystem here in Iraq.

When most people think of our country, they think of the wars and the ensuing conflict that crippled the country. But this is only very recent history in the country that gave birth to one of the greatest commerce and trade regions the world has ever known. It is a country steeped in the history of human civilisation.

Now, Iraqis are hopeful of leaving the recent issues that have plagued the country in the past and to harness its considerable resources to drive economic recovery.

One key area for this to happen is the fostering of a tech entrepreneurial community. In the last few years, a large group of tech entrepreneurs has emerged, who have created the beginnings of an Iraqi tech ecosystem from scratch. And it is now beginning to show signs of advancing beyond its primary stage.

The Blossoming Iraqi Tech Startup Space

The impact of the conflict witnessed in the country since 2003 has led to a dearth of foreign investment. It has also badly affected the education system. This has led to a lack of capital and of talent, respectively. Up to now, the tech startup community has had to be innovative and adaptable to deal with problems in financing, infrastructure and human resources.

RiTS Vision for a Better Iraq

By Aziz Al Nassiri.

The idea of the RiTS Hexagon vision is to offer well-thought-through project concepts to deal with some of the most pressing problems Iraq faces today.

The country’s leadership has been good with identifying the objectives, however not very good with specifying strategies to help achieve these objectives.

Hence our projects are solutions based on self-contained strategies to well recognized problems. Unlike academic initiatives, this is pioneering thinking originating from the private sector. Hence all ideas here are real, practical, achievable, and will generate income and provide new employment opportunities.

Covering such areas as manufacturing, agriculture and tourism, the report includes recommendations for public sector management reform and start-up incubators.

Click here to download the full report.