UNITAR Division for Prosperity fosters entrepreneurs in Iraq

18 March 2022, Hiroshima, Japan – UNITAR Division for Prosperity held a two-day workshop in Baghdad, Iraq, last week, as part of its COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme: Mobilising Resilient Entrepreneurs to address food insecurity, public health, and unemployment – for youth in Iraq. This is the first time UNITAR’s Division for Prosperity held an in-person workshop since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out and marks the start of a new “hybrid” training model.

In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic forced UNITAR to shift all training programmes online. While learners rated the online trainings highly, their top request was for additional in-person trainings or meet-ups to build on the online experience. The in-person workshop in Baghdad – with COVID-19 precautions – allowed UNITAR to finally meet that request and better facilitate learning and networking among participants.

Nineteen entrepreneurs attended the Baghdad workshop from various regions of Iraq. They were the top performers selected from among 181 learners who have developed their business ideas since the beginning of the programme in August 2021. The 19 entrepreneurs joined a hackathon, and pitched their ideas to their mentors and peers. The participants are further shaping their innovative projects up to the end of March 2022.

UNITAR's workshop in Baghdad
Workshop of the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Programme, Baghdad, March 2022

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. It inspired ideas such as a platform to offer free psychological therapy to people who cannot afford it and recycling used tires into community playgrounds.

H.E. Ambassador of Japan to Iraq, Mr. Kotaro Suzuki, attended the second day of the workshop. “The youth bear the fate of Iraq’s future. You embody Iraq during this century. I hope to see each and every one of you as a leader in every profession.”

UNITAR Division for Prosperity believes in cultivating entrepreneurs and small-to-medium businesses because they create jobs and livelihood opportunities, support community resilience, and promote economic growth. In 2021, UNITAR trained over 1,780 entrepreneurs in Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa, Iraq, Kenya, and South Sudan to unlock solutions to meet the complex challenges of today.

The key findings of UNITAR’s work in Iraq over the past 6 years will be shared at an online conference on 25 March 2022: Empower the Youth: Fostering Inclusive Entrepreneurship in Iraq.

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