Iraqi Entrepreneurs’ Journey studies startups in Baghdad, where entrepreneurship is still relatively in its early stages of development. This study aims to delineate the pathway entrepreneurs initially took to start their own startups and to show the several challenges that were faced during their journey. 

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This publication is part of Business LANDSCAPE series which a series of research publication aims to highlight the current situation of Iraq’s economy and private sector through publishing researches and data and make it freely available for the benefit of investors, and the local and international community 

This study is published in partnership with GIZ


As the startups ecosystem is being established in Iraq, entrepreneurs sit at its core with many stakeholders who are actively seeking to empower and help them. Iraqi entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the high entrepreneurial opportunities available in the country by founding startups that provide solutions for existing needs in the form of products and services. Having more entrepreneurs and startups is essential to develop the private sector and to enhance the employment status in Iraq. 

Despite the high numbers of participants in training programs offered by support organizations; which are usually funded by international donors, this ecosystem still has a limited number of startups. Our research aims to identify the key issues facing entrepreneurs and preventing individuals from joining the ecosystem. 

Iraqi Entrepreneurs’ Journey studies startups in Baghdad, where entrepreneurship is still relatively in its early stages of development. This study aims to delineate the pathway entrepreneurs initially took to start their own startups and to show the several challenges that were faced during their journey.

It is crucial to understand the characteristics of the Iraqi youth who are taking a risk to become entrepreneurs and the challenges that they come across. This will aid in preparing a plan to develop the entrepreneurship ecosystem, provide startups with adequate support, and provide training programs or other initiatives for the new entrepreneurs.

Thirty-two interviews with startup owners were conducted and each lasted between 20-60 minutes. Founders sampling was based on experts' recommendations then a snowball sampling was implemented. Data were analyzed through thematic qualitative analysis. Patterns of answers to different questions were identified into themes and sub-themes followed by interpreting the themes according to context. 

The objectives of the study are:

  • Identifying the characteristics of entrepreneurs including their demographics and educational background, and how it has contributed to their startups.
  • Focusing on the sources of the experience, the time they needed, and what skills helped them in starting their startups.
  • How their jobs affected or got affected by starting a startup.
  • Taking a glimpse of their views and definitions about Iraqi entrepreneurship and startups.
  • Looking into the types of startups in Iraq, scale, use of technology, and state of ownership.
  • Looking in-depth into startups led by Iraqi women and identifying the challenges they are facing.
  • Getting an impression about the traction startups are getting and the market they are operating in.
  • Identifying the challenges entrepreneurs are facing and the competition they have.
  • Discussing the issue of registering startups and identifying the obstacles entrepreneurs are facing to get their startups registered.
  • Taking a general view of the financial state of startups.
  • Identifying the motives that led to startups, the ideas that made these startups stand out, and the tools used by entrepreneurs to develop their ideas.
  • Looking into the teams and partnerships needed to develop the projects.
  • Going through the stages the startup passed through and the strategies used to make it successful.

Various findings were obtained to satisfy each of the study objectives and recommendations for the development of the ecosystem and entrepreneurs were derived accordingly. 

Download Iraqi Entrepreneur’s Journey now to get an in-depth analysis of the current situation and pathway Iraqi startups are taking.