Tech Startups in Iraq to Watch
The Middle East tech scene is growing at a dizzying pace, and Iraq is one of the regions that is playing catch up. Considered a frontier market, meaning that it is finding its footing economic-wise, Iraq has plenty of potential when it comes to tech startups. The nation has always depended on its oil to finance its budget, but fluctuating oil prices have forced it to look elsewhere like advancing technological innovations. Iraq is, so far, doing an impressive job of providing opportunities for startups in tech. Internet penetration has been favourable as smartphones and data plans become more affordable for users. Other reasons Iraq is ripe for a technological revolution is its population. According to the UN, the country has one of the world’s most youthful populations with about 60% of the 37 million people under 25.
Every technological revolution is fueled by skill training, and that is what Re-Coded is all about. Established in 2016, Re-Coded is designed to help the youth in Iraq learn about coding. Its Program Manager, Zahra Shah, explains that the coding school is meant to help Iraq forge forward towards a more techno-centric existence by providing its young people with the skills they require to grow innovations. The institution holds five-month boot camps where students get crash courses in coding and the tech entrepreneurship academy, which is more comprehensive. Re-Coded has a co-working space in Erbil and has since expanded to Baghdad. The tech school also focuses on inclusion for women by insisting that every project has at least 40% female participation. Re-Coded shapes its students and gives them competencies that they can leverage in the employment and entrepreneurial sector. The tech learning centre is also looking to have its boot camps in Turkey and Yemen as part of the expansion to the larger Middle East.
AlMadrasa Online was built to tackle the lacking education system in Iraq. The startup was a concept by two siblings, Muataz Aziz and Dina Aziz who saw the need to fill a gap in Iraq’s curriculum. With support from One Five Labs, Re-Coded and Rwanga Foundation, the two were able to develop AlMadrasa, a web-based platform that gives students remote access to education. The service contains courses from the Ministry of Education curriculum that are available for a small fee. It means that students who don’t have the means to reach a school but can afford to get on the site can capitalise on the extensive study materials available. As more students take advantage of the program, it will help curb overcrowding in schools. IDPs and refugees benefit from free courses. The platform is designed to deliver current high school courses that get upgrades accordingly.
Software You Need
The world that businesses operate in today demands a fair amount of software use whether it’s managing customer relations or sharing information among colleagues. Software enhances efficiency and productivity, and that is what SYN is all about. Software You Need focuses on tailoring software solutions for small and medium enterprise in Iraq. The tech company creates applications that businesses can utilise across multiple platforms such as Linux, Mac OS and Microsoft. It collaborates with clients to get their ideas and specific requirements then customises software to respond to them. SYN, one of the startups under the Five One Labs Incubator program, also offers IT consulting for the businesses that require the services. SMEs in Iraq that need domain hosting & deploying, email services, and graphic designing, among others can find them at SYN. Enterprises setting up internet ventures that need API integration can task SYN with providing it given the steady growth of business in the country, having a provider like SYN that concentrate on tailored solutions lessens the work for many entrepreneurs.
Careem is not Iraq-born, but it is one of the tech startups in the Middle East capitalising on the growing technological sphere in Iraq. The ride-hailing enterprise is among the companies that are using Uber’s idea to craft apps that cater to the Asian market. Careem is based in the UAE and in early 2018, ventured into Baghdad to offer its services to the people of Iraq. Speaking about the move, the CEO, Mudassir Sheikha, said that Iraq was strategic to the region and its rich culture made the investment worth it. Careem will shift the transportation sector by making it easier for people to order rides. The company will also make a major contribution to the country’s tech ecosystem by driving innovation and creating employment. It is expected that operating a tech enterprise like Careem in Baghdad will inspire the youth into coming up with initiatives that provide similar advantages to the country and the entire region.
Iraq is slowly joining the rest of the Middle East in developing technological innovations that better the lives of the people. Investor confidence is also achieving new heights as the country demonstrates it is capable of playing in the technological field with the rest of the region.