The launching of the Ruwwad Al Iraq platform was announced in the presence of representatives from INNOVEST Middle East, the World Bank, and the Iraqi Media Network (IMN) as well as the Founding Partners- Central Bank of Iraq, Zain Iraq, and Iraq Private Banks League. Ruwwad Al Iraq is the first initiative of its kind that aims at helping young entrepreneurs and startups across Iraq to achieve their dreams and develop their own projects. Ruwwad Al Iraq is a competition platform that invites participants to submit their innovative ideas or startup business plans in a bid for financial and in-kind prizes that will contribute in bringing their dreams to life.
The launching of this platform took place during a press conference held at Babylon Warwick Hotel in the capital of Iraq, Baghdad.
The inauguration speech was given by Mr. Ali Al Hilli, Entrepreneurship Consultant at Zain Iraq, who introduced the platform’s objectives, key stakeholders, and stages and explained how to participate in the platform competition.
Al-Hilli gave the floor to Dr. Ali Mohsen Ismail Al-Allaq, Governor of the Central Bank of Iraq and Head of the Board of Directors of the Tamkeen Fund, who emphasized on the important role entrepreneurs play in boosting the economy of Iraq. He added that “supporting the Tamkeen Fund by giving away grand prizes on the Ruwwad Al Iraq platform is part of supporting youth initiatives and innovations, which are deemed the future of the Iraqi economy.” He also thanked everyone who contributed to the Tamkeen Fund from private Iraqi banks and other financial institutions enabling the fund’s successive initiatives to support multiple activities benefiting large segments of society.
Mr. Mujahid Abu Al-Hail, Head of the Iraqi Media Network, spoke of the national responsibility that lies on the media to support entrepreneurs and shed light on their innovations and projects. “The media constitute an essential part of economic reform and development, because of their power in forming public consensus. Our network supports this platform because it encourages people in developing countries to become more competent and conscientious about job and investment opportunities as well as trade opportunities,” he added.
Ali Al-Zahid, Chief Executive Officer of Zain Iraq, stressed on the important role the private sector plays in supporting and promoting young talents and startups. “We congratulate all the organizers of this project on launching the Ruwwad Al Iraq platform that will foster young Iraqi innovators,” continued Al-Zahid. “We, at Zain Iraq, have long been supporting and empowering youth in various fields, including entrepreneurs and start-ups, to develop their projects and gain as well as exchange expertise in the field of technology and information technology and communication. We believe that future development in Iraq and the region will be led by young innovators in the field of technology. Hence, we are always seeking to build awareness and promote opportunities that reinforce creative talents by contributing to shaping future entrepreneurs,” he added.
In turn, Ms. Yara Salem, The Special Representative of the World Bank’s mission in Iraq, asserted that the Ruwwad Al Iraq initiative is at the core of the World Bank’s main objectives, which focus on creating more job opportunities for the youth and giving them the chance to play an important role in the process of construction, development and establishment of peace and stability. This could promote economic, social and personal development in Iraq. Ms. Salem also added that “Ruwwad Al Iraq provides young people with a chance to address their problems, priorities and ideas in order to overcome the impasse of unemployment and the lack of job opportunities and capacities, and actively participate in a creative and innovative way in developing social solutions in different fields including education, health, water, among others including technology-use solutions. Therefore, this initiative is characterized by building the foundations of community participation among the youth in the process of reconstruction and the rebuilding of the Iraq of tomorrow.”
For his part, Mr. Wadeea Nouri Al-Handal, Head of the Iraq Private Banks League, emphasized on the importance of the role banks play in supporting innovators and startups and added “we are working to provide startups with funding and soft loans through the banking sector and also contribute in providing them with the necessary training to launch and develop their own projects.”
Then Mr. Bassam Falah, Founder and CEO of INNOVEST ME, took the floor and commended the role played by the founding partners who supported the creation and establishment of the Ruwwad al Iraq project, and stressed on the importance of the collaboration between the public and private sectors in building State economies and developing societies. “We are proud to take part of this national initiative, which would move the Iraqi economy forward,” said Mr. Falah. “The youth are the future and #the_future_starts_now,” he added.