Launched in 2014, Miswag has been an undoubted business tech success story within Iraq. We were recently lucky enough to explore business development with the Co-Founder and Chief Executive, Ammar Ameen.
The foundation of the business was driven by the realisation that there was an opportunity to work with key suppliers and distribution networks. At the time, there was a lack of regulation within the local market. As a result, counterfeit goods were widely available, there was confusion about pricing and it was clear that supply chains simply weren’t working effectively.
The situation appeared, if anything, to be declining. Consumers were being left in a position where it was impossible to be sure whether products that they were being offered were actually genuine. This was clearly an unsustainable environment for all involved.
At its heart, Miswag sought to provide trust. Genuine products are being sold and help has been given to brand owners, allowing them to establish direct sales channels. This approach has proved popular with both brands and consumers.
The business has grown at an incredible rate, which is testament to the work of its employees. The initial startup capital amounted to only $30,000 and, to this day, no additional finance or funding has ever been required by the business. The success story does, of course, reflect a lot of hard work and technical expertise.
Building a success story
When the business originally started, there was a real need to build awareness and to educate vendors. That’s a task that continues, as the business grows, working with an increasing number of vendors. In terms of sales, Miswag is currently the best performing retail site in Iraq. When you consider that this has been achieved in an environment where the only available payment method is cash-on-delivery, the growth of the business is all the more incredible.
When it comes to logistics and the service sector, there are clearly weaknesses that need to be overcome. As Ammar himself notes, “startups are trying to provide services while suffering the absence of infrastructures.”
The growth of the business wouldn’t have been possible without the foundations that are provided by technology. While other retailers and distributors persist with a traditional approach, Miswag rely heavily upon using technology to develop sustainable channels. Solutions help to predict levels of turnover and help to ensure continuity of supply. There is an underlying promise too: authenticity, quality and honesty, together with a guarantee that they deliver on their promises. The ethos here clearly comes from the CEO, with Ammar pointing out that Miswag “takes its values very seriously.”
Looking to the future
There’s rarely the option in business to simply stand still. Even if there were, we suspect that this isn’t an approach that would suit Miswag, where there’s been a consistent pattern of growth. They hope to maximise their market share in Iraq during the next two years. But how are they going to achieve that goal? Ammar provided some great insights and advice for other entrepreneurs who might be in a similar position.
The key elements in getting the business to this stage have been “technology, persistence in hard times, management and teamwork.” Those same elements will undoubtedly be central to future successes too.
Ammar makes time for his own personal development, helping to build the business. He follows international business news on a daily basis, admires the growth of Amazon and has been amazed by the local success story of Huda Kattan. He advises budding entrepreneurs to spend the time building up their own business knowledge levels and seeking training courses, to help fill in knowledge gaps.
Although Ammar feels that development within Iraq has been disappointing in recent years, with the local environment lacking a number of factors that are needed to drive growth, the success of Miswag demonstrates that it’s possible to overcome such barriers and to reach new goals. The business has reached new heights in the past couple of years and appears to have a brighter future still. A definite example of a success story in Iraq.