We are very proud that today marked the graduation of the first cohort of OrangeCorners Baghdad. Despite the hurdles in 2020, from the protests that took place earlier this year in Iraq to the global pandemic, OCBaghdad Team, with the support of its partners, Asiacell, Kingdom of the Netherland and the Orange Corners initiative, managed to facilitate everything virtually and the incubation program graduated 20 entrepreneurs.
In December 2019, over 280 people applied for the incubation program. They were shortlisted to 50 semi-finalists and those were invited to participate in an intensive two-day-long bootcamp in which a jury decides who is best placed to join the incubation programme. By the end of the bootcamp, 20 young Iraqi entrepreneurs were selected to be part of the program. The past six months have been a journey of resilience and perseverance on the entrepreneurs part and great assiduity was provided by over 10 trainers, 8 mentors, and our team for the startups.
During the graduation ceremony Mr. Eric Strating, the Netherlands Ambassador, expressed the importance of private sector development in Iraq and how programs such as OCBaghdad and companies like KAPITA can be a game changer in the Iraqi economy. At the same time, Theodore A. Klouvas, Orange Corners Programme Manager and Policy Officer of Youth Employment in the MENA Region, voiced the significance of such programs in creating emulated local role models in the entrepreneurship sphere in Iraq.
Throughout this journey OCBaghdad was fortunate to have a partnership with a well-established Iraqi company like Asiacell that constantly pushes for a better Iraq. Abdullah Hasan the Integrated Marketing Communication Director at Asiacell spoke about the investment that Asiacell carries out in various aspects in the economy such as telecom and communications, technology solutions and education. We at OCBaghdad admire Asiacell’s dedication and commitment in providing education infrastructure through training and development centres and the big part they play in corporate social responsibility and sustainable development in the whole business arena in Iraq.
Finally, KAPITA’s founder and OCBaghdad Manager Mujahed Waisi mentioned that this is only the beginning of the startups’ journey and the Iraqi market is full of rugged roads and pathways as entrepreneurs try to reach their goals. However, Theodore stated that “it is not easy but it is not impossible” and “regardless of the circumstances, hard work always pays off”.
Visit OCBaghdad Facebook page to watch the full ceremony.