EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Forum opens doors for dozens of Iraqi youth to implement dream projects through public and private sectors

Feb 25, 2017

Since 2015, UNDP has been implementing the Innovation for Development Initiative in Iraq with the aim of supporting the role of young people in entrepreneurship and innovation focusing on service delivery and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Photo: UNDP Iraq/2017

Baghdad– Nearly 300 people, mostly youth, gathered in Baghdad on 25 February 2017 to participate in the second Innovation for Development Forum. Organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Local Area Development Programme (LADP), funded by the European Union (EU), the Forum showcased 24 projects designed and tested by youth teams from different parts of Iraq. 

Tackling production, education and development, electronic platforms, and youth centres and companies, the projects were selected from over 180 submissions based on a set of criteria that included innovation, feasibility, cost effectiveness, sustainability and realism. Youth teams were provided with an intensive two-day training to ensure quality delivery of their presentations.

A panel of 11 judges evaluated the projects, engaging an audience of youth, representatives of government institutions, such as the Prime Minister’s Office, Ministries of Trade, Labour and Social Affairs, Industry, Oil, and Youth and Sport, Chamber of Commerce, in addition to the University of Technology, Al-Nahrain University, and non-governmental organizations. Around 45 participants represented companies such as Zain Telecommunication, Microsoft Center in Iraq, Private Banks Association, Q-Card financial company, Trade Bank of Iraq, Huawei phone company, Iraqi Company for Banking Guarantees, Al-Bawsalaa, Mishwar, and Al-Rabee Securities Company for stock exchange. 

“This Forum was an opportunity for me to network and share my ideas. Until now, I have never had a chance to meet so many thoughtful and committed people in one place working together for a better future for youth in Iraq. The Prime Minister’s Office invited me to present my projects on green energy and agriculture in Iraq next week,” said Mr. Waleed Khaleed, a young volunteer and participant in the first Innovation for Development Forum held in 2015.  

For Ms. Tiba Ghalib, a 25-year-old participant from Missan, the Forum was encouraging: “I did not expect such a positive reaction from the judges and the audience. They loved the idea of my project about the cultural heritage in Iraq. This is an amazing and motivating experience.” 

Investors and representatives were provided with a list of projects in order to express their thoughts and interest. Interested sponsors ranged between seven and thirteen per project.

Managing Director for Al-Rabee Securities, Mr. Rami Yassir, said: “Supporting young entrepreneurs should be a priority for any company aiming at improving the private sector in Iraq. Companies should support the involvement of young people and talent in their work if they want to succeed. Enabling youth and putting them in the spotlight is the real success of this event.”

UNDP Project Manager, Mr. Dhafer Hassan, expressed gratitude for the volunteer work involved: “The EU/UNDP Innovation for Development Forum was organized with the support of a team of young Iraqi volunteers divided into sub-teams for hosting, registration, reporting, social media, design and graphics, and logistics. Their dedication brought the Forum to a fruitful conclusion.” 

Since 2015, UNDP has been implementing the Innovation for Development Initiative in Iraq with the aim of supporting the role of young people in entrepreneurship and innovation focusing on service delivery and the achievement of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The EU adopted the Initiative under LADP early 2016, and during this year over 500 young people nationwide benefited from respective training and networking opportunities with the public and private sectors.