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Hello again Isaac Jumba ! It's a great question! When we did our research while launching Five One Labs in 2016, we saw that there was a gap in entrepreneurship-related programming in the Kurdistan Region across all stages of the pipeline (idea stage, seed stage, etc.), so we decided that we would start at the beginning of the pipeline with early-stage entrepreneurs. In this way we could not only increase interest in entrepreneurs by working with those who were thinking about entrepreneurs but also provide added value to those launching their own businesses by offering in-depth training in innovative subjects, including leadership and design thinking, many of which are not integrated into the Iraqi university curriculum.

Now that we have been in Iraq for more than two years now, we also see that there is a demand for services later down the pipeline, so in the coming months we will be offering things like investment readiness workshops for startups seeking to raise capital, as this is also a need that we have observed not only among our entrepreneurs but also among other founders across Iraq more broadly. Also speaking with investors across the region has shown that this preparing entrepreneurs for investment is a gap in the area where we operate.

With regards to success metrics, our mission is to use entrepreneurship to enable people to rebuild and thrive, so what this means to us is that while we are aiming to help people start businesses, if the founder decides after our incubator program that she would prefer, for example, to find a job, and she is able to find a job that is higher-paying that before the program because of what she learned during the incubator, we consider this a success. We also look at things like how many jobs the startup has created, what type of investment they have raised, how much the founder has learned (business concepts, etc.) throughout the program.

I hadn't heard of the venture model before, but thank you for suggesting it! We are thinking about how to better support our founders, especially in our post-incubation, and I think some of the VB model components can be relevant to us in the critical post-incubation phase. For example, a number of our startups lack certain human capital in their teams, so helping support them to find someone to be a CTO or CFO is something that we are considering. With regards to the raising capital component, one of our priorities now is to mobilize more capital for our startups. While we have been awarding grants of up to $15,000 in seed funding to three startups per cohort, we are looking to connect the founders with investors across the region (and will be hosting 20 such investors in Iraq next week), and we look for opportunities for our startup to present and pitch at regional conferences, which is important given the difficulty of obtaining startup funding in Iraq.

I hope that answers your question! I'd love to continue the conversation if anything is unclear!



Patricia commented on SPEAK

Hello Rita Brito e Faro -- thank you for sharing your proposal! I see from your questions that you are looking to learn more about the tools that a refugee may need to start a business in a new country. I am working at Five One Labs, which is an incubator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, and we are now on our third cohort of entrepreneurs, so we would be happy to share lessons learned with you if you are interested!



Hi Fleur Bakker ! We are so happy to see all the great work that Refugee Company is doing with women refugees. If Alice Bosley and I can be of any help, please send us a WhatsApp! We ran a pilot of a Female Founders Fellowship program in Erbil and Sulaimani this year to support growth-stage women entrepreneurs because we saw from our work that they were facing additional obstacles to starting their businesses (which I am sure you see every day in the Netherlands, too).

Hope to see you again soon!