Program Designers’ Lab – Iraq
07.12.2018 to 05.07.2019
The program designers’ lab (PDL) connected and empowered the seven leading support organisations focused on entrepreneurship in Iraq. The participants were selected in collaboration with program partner and supporter, GIZ.
This component created a safe space for the participating organizations, in which capacity building and collaboration between the respective organizations and their representatives was ensured through peer-to-peer learning, international benchmarking, and exchanges with experts from the two regions: MENA and Europe. Through the program, joint projects were created and implemented between the participants. The PDL was composed of two modules, with the first one taking place in Cairo from December 7th to December 15th 2018 and the second in Berlin from June 29th to July 5th 2019.
For the first module, PDL members engaged in a series of workshops curated and designed by enpact. Here, local and international experts shared their expertise in interactive formats at enpact’s Startup Haus Cairo. In addition to hosting the PDL, Startup Haus Cairo provided the participants with a great first-hand example and experience in the development and management of a dynamic, self-sustainable, and multi-faceted co-working space – as some of the participants were either already operating and/or planning on inaugurating the first handful of coworking spaces in Iraq.
The first workshop of the PDL served as both kick-off and a needs assessment exercise for the participants. It allowed us to profile participants individually and to identify their strengths and weaknesses in order to better understand the group’s shared interests and goals – they also got to know each other better. This was crucial in providing the basis for future cooperation and collaboration between them. It was supported by team-building activities and followed by a session on expectations, values, goals, and desired outcomes. In addition, the group jointly discussed and agreed upon working methods, communication channels, and their respective values in order to ensure the underlying values of a successful PDL: open & transparent communication, co-creation, and collaboration. These fundamental values and approaches allowed for closer networking and collaboration of the different actors and a smooth exchange of their respective expertise, all the while ensuring self-ownership and self-empowerment.
With that foundation in place, the subsequent workshops focused on capacity-building topics such as Business Modelling & Program Conception, Ecosystem and Stakeholder Mapping, KPI Identification & Development, as well as expert talks with Omar Rabie, USAID, Incubator Program Egypt; Moustafa Khater, ecosystem developer at Greek Campus; Amr Sobhi, Manager at Startup Haus Cairo; and an Ecosystem Tour and Analysis of the Cairo entrepreneurship scene which included a visit to Greek Campus, attending RiseUp Summit, and visiting Falak Studios.
During the first module, PDL members were also part of a delegation consisting of entrepreneurs from Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan, Germany, and Sweden, who participated in the startup conference RiseUp Summit in Egypt from December 6th to December 9th. A carefully designed agenda allowed PDL members to meet, network, and discuss with entrepreneurs, investors and other ecosystem players from the MENA region and Europe to promote regional exchange of best practices.
Last but not least, an outlook and preparation workshop for the next module took place. During this last workshop, the PDL members decided to found an umbrella organization and developed a common vision under which they intended to conceptualise and implement joint projects. One of the first projects they organized under the umbrella organization, called ITEA (Iraq Technology and Entrepreneurship Alliance), was the first-ever nationwide hackathon in Iraq, which took place in April 2019.
Between the two modules, participants were tasked to work on assignments identified at the end of Module I. Among those were the conception, preparation, and implementation of the hackathon, as well as the finalization of the mission statement of the ITEA for which a first draft was made during Module I. Participants also intended to work on a joint media campaign to promote entrepreneurship and technology-driven innovation across all of Iraq, which as of this date is work-in-progress. The follow-up to Module I was assured through a monthly online conference with the PDL participants.
In preparation for Module II, enpact carried out individual capacity assessments for each organization in two stages: First, participants were asked to complete a survey with detailed questions on their current and desired state with regards to their organizational capacities and further development. Second, video interviews were conducted with each organization to ensure a better understanding of their organizational needs and objectives for the next six to twelve months.
Among the issues that were mentioned were: the financial planning of their organizations, communication with donors, Monitoring & Evaluation of their products and services, access to networks, ecosystem building, public relations and marketing, and organizational management. Following a thorough evaluation of these needs, enpact designed the program for the second module in close consultation with the participants and the donor.
Module II took place in Berlin from June 29th to July 5th and included a visit to the Tech Open Air (TOA) in Berlin, where participants received insights into the latest technological trends and topics. Among the highlights of Module II, was a workshop on Monitoring & Evaluation, in which the participating organizations learnt about the impact assessment tools to improve their impact and analyze their own supply and adapt it to the needs of the existing ecosystem in Iraq.
Upon the completion of the program, all participants were keen on continuing to engage beyond the actual duration of the program. We held a follow-up online meetup with participants in August 2019 where we discussed further support by enpact and next steps for growing the initiatives and community created within the program.