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Welcome back to the IBB Update!
We're excited to unveil the "Open for Business in Kurdistan" project, which, in partnership with Atlas Network as a member of their latest Smart Bet program, will revitalize Iraq's Kurdistan start-up scene over the next two years. In another innovative stride, Kabul-based Sami has initiated 'Inspirand,' connecting Afghan talents with North American opportunities, showcasing global connections transcending borders. Additionally, Diyan Gawdan is catalyzing Kurdistan's entrepreneurial surge with the Babylon Artisan Market, providing a robust platform for local start-ups. Lastly, iTak Studio’s VR tour is digitally immortalizing the ancient Erbil Citadel, making history accessible globally, while Iraqi artist Neshaat Al Shammari through the Baghdad Design Toolkit project seeks to rekindle Iraq’s Golden Age legacy, indicating a promising blend of past insights and futuristic innovations in the region.
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Welcome to IBB’s Board of Advisors Mohammed Soliman
We are thrilled to announce the "Open for Business in Kurdistan" project, an endeavor aimed at significantly transforming the start-up landscape in Iraq's Kurdistan region over the next two years. Our heartfelt appreciation goes out to our allies at Atlas Network for their invaluable support and for placing a Smart Bet on the entrepreneurs of Kurdistan.
The core of this initiative includes the launch of a one-stop registration website to expedite the business registration process within a 24-hour window. This, along with a vigorous social media campaign targeted at amassing one million views, and proactive legal reforms orchestrated in tandem with the region’s Parliament, is geared towards propelling Kurdistan into the vanguard of the free enterprise movement across the Middle East. With a symbiotic relationship and shared vision, we, alongside Atlas Network, are paving the way for an entrepreneurial renaissance in Kurdistan, setting a benchmark for neighboring regions to emulate. Our collective endeavor marks a significant stride toward turning Kurdistan into a beacon of free enterprise, encouraging other Middle Eastern nations to follow suit.
Inspirand Inspires Global Opportunities
Starting from Kabul, young innovator Sami journeyed to Toronto, Canada, with a dream to bridge cultures through 'Inspirand,' a project launched in 2022 connecting Afghan design and tech talents with opportunities in North America. Shaped by his immigrant experience, Sami, with the aid of one of our Innovation Hub grants, aims to provide a platform for Afghan professionals to excel and challenge biases about his homeland. 'Inspirand' reflects the resilience and ambition to foster professional growth and understanding among Afghan professionals, promising impactful change in their global communities.
Start Up Successes
Diyan Gawdan is revitalizing Kurdistan's entrepreneurial scene. Despite the previous lack of substantial venture capital, Iraq witnessed a rise in start-up funding in 2022, especially in Erbil, attributed to its young, tech-savvy population, with investors showing increased interest in the region. The emergence of incubators and co-working spaces across Erbil is fueling a new wave of entrepreneurship, igniting a shift towards a robust private sector. Gawdan, identifying visibility as a major hurdle for local entrepreneurs, conceived the Babylon Artisan Market (BAM!), an event to provide a broader platform for showcasing, networking, and learning, backed by our Innovation Hub. Through BAM!, Gawdan envisions bridging cultural divides and fostering a collaborative environment for entrepreneurs across Iraq, laying the foundation for a network and more events that support and nurture the entrepreneurial spirit in Kurdistan and beyond.
Past Treasures For Future Generations
iTak Studio, supported by a grant from our Innovation Hub, has developed a Virtual Reality (VR) tour to digitally preserve the ancient Erbil Citadel in Iraq, amidst rising concerns over the destruction and looting of historical sites in the region post-ISIS and during economic crises. By rendering digital tours, iTak aims to provide an immersive, educational experience, making the rich history of Erbil and other sites in Kurdistan accessible to a global audience while safeguarding the cultural heritage for future generations. The VR walkthrough of the Erbil Citadel not only highlights the long-standing history tracing back around 6,000 years but also hopes to encourage younger generations to engage with their heritage, fostering a sense of shared humanity through a deeper understanding of history and cultural traditions. Ambitious restoration and cultural tourism plans are underway to enhance the appeal of the citadel, with the digital access provided by the VR experience expected to boost engagement and underline the importance of investing in the preservation and celebration of Iraq's historical treasures.
Golden Age Glory
Iraqi artist Neshaat Al Shammari's paintings of modern-day Baghdad depict a bygone era of grand structures reminiscent of the Islamic Golden Age, a period of remarkable scientific and cultural advancement in the Arab world. Despite its rich history, contemporary Iraq, marred by sectarian conflict, often overlooks this golden age.
Al Shammari, residing between London and Baghdad, aims to revive this cultural legacy through his art and the Baghdad Design Toolkit project, funded by an Innovation Hub grant. The Abbasids, after overthrowing the Umayyads in 790, built Baghdad as a hub of knowledge, attracting scholars, philosophers, and tradesmen from across the globe, establishing a legacy of learning and openness, with institutions like the House of Wisdom embodying the scholarly spirit of the era. Through his artwork and projects, Al Shammari strives to reconnect the contemporary world to Iraq’s illustrious past, showcasing that knowledge and cultural endeavors can transcend adversities.
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