Startup hub focus: Baghdad
Over the course of the past year, the Iraqi startup ecosystem has been through tremendous development. Numerous startup events and boot camps have resulted in the early stages of an ecosystem. Baghdad, as the capital city with the largest market, has seen a strong number of stratups that are now beginning to take shape as businesses.
Unfortunately, it is not always that simple getting information from businesses in our culture but below are some of the hottest startups in Baghdad who are willing to share their stories.
- Miswag, founded by Ammar Ameen
Miswag was founded in the year 2013 and is one of the first startups in Baghdad. Miswag is an online store that adopted a model similar to Amazon. The startup provides a cross-platform site and mobile application as the main sales channels that allow Iraqi based customers to place their order directly. The startup also offers delivery services to its customers.
The startup is independently funded and has been generating income since the year 2015, it made over 1.1 billion Iraqi dinars in sales in the year 2016.
The startup covers all over Iraq with two main operation centers, one in Baghdad and the other in the Kurdistan region.
The team currently consists of 11 employees and are aiming at a 50% staff increase within the next 12 months as they plan to establish another operation center in Basra.
- Wajbati, founded by Ahmed Sobhi
Wajbati is an online food ordering and delivery service launched in 2015. After a year of research and development, the first version of the Wajbati application was released for both Apple and Android.
Wajabti has more than 15 employees based in Baghdad. Currently, the startup is only available in Baghdad, but the team is working on expanding into the major hubs of Erbil and Basra.
Wajabti provides restaurants with their application and delivery service (for restaurants that don’t have delivery service) for a fee of 5% of the total order.
Wajbati is an independently funded. Although it is beginning to generate income, it still requires financial support from its founders. According to the team, the startup will generate enough income by the end of the year to be able to run itself.
- Karwa, founded by Ahmed Ali
Karwa is an on-demand taxi service application launched in June of 2016. The startup works on connecting customers with drivers similar to other well known international taxi apps.
The startup is privately funded and does not generate any income as of yet. “We currently do not charge drivers any commission to encourage them to use our model and the use of technology away from the traditional way of obtaining customers until we build a strong fleet and have flexibility with drivers’” said Ahmed.
Karwa currently provides it service to all major areas in Baghdad. The team has 5 full-time staff members at the moment and they plan to hire 20 staff members within the next 12 months. They are also working on expanding their business to Najaf, Karbala, Basra, and the Kurdistan region.
Hilli was officially launched in December of 2016 as a marketplace for hand made crafts reflecting Iraqi culture. The startup creates the products by hiring locally skilled women.
Again, privately funded, the startup generates an unsteady income due to the instabilities of the Iraqi market. But the team are confident that the venture has a bright future ahead.
The startup plans to create a strong brand in the local market before it begins expanding elsewhere. The startup sells its products online, but it has plans of establishing a store in Babylon Mall in Baghdad. The startup’s delivery service covers all the Iraqi provinces including the Kurdistan region of Iraq.
The team currently has 7 members and are planning on hiring more women in the production team to increase their inventory.
Below is a member of the Hilli team.
Lara Saeed is a graduate of the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. She holds a BA degree in English Literature. During her four years in university, she was a staff writer for AUIS Voice, the first independent on campus newsletter in Iraq. When she is not busy reading, writing, or editing Lara likes to… read.