Kurdish start-up incubator partners with Global Entrepreneurship NetworkBy Glenn Field [ltr]9 hours ago [/ltr]
ERBIL, Kurdistan Region – MyeDream has partnered with the Global Entrepreneurship Network (GEN), a move that its founder and CEO says will help young entrepreneurs, create jobs and boost the economy.
“It means there is big focus on the Kurdistan Region and Iraq for rebuilding the economy, especially for the youth generation to create jobs in rebuilding the future,” Rebeen Pasha, who officially launched MyeDream last August, told Rudaw.
Last week, a month-long celebration of youth and entrepreneurship, organized in collaboration with the University of Kurdistan-Erbil, featured special guest and GEN Vice President Buke Cuhadar, who oversees programming and networks in 165 countries and the Kurdish Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Mohammed Qadir Hawdiani.
GEN is a network aimed at globally connecting entrepreneurs to create jobs, accelerate innovation, provide investments and private sector connections as well as strengthen economic stability around the world.
“It took one whole year of advocacy and pushing with the Global Entrepreneurship Network, the US State Department and other folks to make this happen, and it's a very big deal,” Pasha said. “It opens up Kurdistan and Iraq as part of support networks, mentors, delegations, future investors.”
For entrepreneurial progress, participation from such influences as Cuhadar and Hawdiani is an uplifting shift in where the movement is heading, Pasha explained.
However, the encouragement and support MyeDream is receiving from Cuhadar and prominent members from the international community has hardly penetrated into policy at the local and governmental level, he complained.
“It needs to come from the inside,” Pasha explained. “The challenge now is that we still don’t have local support or support from the government,” he added.
“This is in line with what the government wants and the only support we have is from the international community,” he noted, calling for the government to become more positively involved in this issue, since 70 percent of Kurdistan’s population is under the age of 30.
“If this doesn’t come from the inside what are we supposed to do?” he asked.
As of last September, unemployment reached 14 percent in Kurdistan, according to the Ministry of Planning, more than twice as much as in 2013, when it was at 6.5 percent.
MyeDream is hoping to serve as an accelerator to help tackle issues like unemployment.
“We believe in building a community for all entrepreneurs, every city in Kurdistan, refugees, all of Iraq, and especially women,” Pasha said. “It's critical to find and showcase those local businesses and KRG champions to help us and our youth succeed.”
Pasha also made a point to emphasize MyeDream’s role in addressing issues affected by the region's current IDP (internally displaced person) crisis and the war with ISIS.
“As the Peshmerga fight ISIS, we can do our part in rebuilding our economy and prepare for a post-ISIS world,” he said.