The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) concluded a series of workshops training over 100 Iraqi youth on creativity and innovation in transforming ideas into businesses and social projects.

As part of UNDP’s Innovation for Development initiative and in collaboration with Zain Iraq, the workshops were held in Baghdad (1-3 October), Basra (15-17 October) and Erbil (29-31 October). Nearly 35 percent of the trainees were females. The concepts of Design Thinking and Business Model Canvas were introduced by 28 trainers, mentors, logistics, graphic facilitators and photographers. They all received UNDP’s Training of Trainers and Volunteers mid August in Baghdad. 

“This was one of the few hands-on trainings I had attended, as we had to participate actively and under strict deadlines to come up with results,” said Laylan Attar, 25 from Sulaimaniyah. “I intend to continue working on my project under this initiative.” 

One team of participants, for instance, developed a souvenir business idea to promote Iraq’s heritage using local materials and workforce. Baghdad-based team member, Al-Hasan Mazin, 21, said: ‪”It was all about learning from the energetic organizers and speakers, and networking with creative people; it was also fun.”

Young people presenting their projects in Erbil @ UNDP Iraq/2015

Local entrepreneurs also shared experiences and challenges they faced in different projects, such as opening a modern cinema, establishing a digital marketing company in Erbil, and developing humanitarian, artistic and commercial projects in Basra.

Graphic Facilitation and Recording was one of the new techniques of focus. “I learned to work on graphic facilitation recently; it is fascinating how vast amounts of details can be turned into simple graphs,” noted Graphic facilitator Shadan Khalid, 19. “I am considering applying this method in my college studies.”

Reflecting on the workshop series, volunteer mentor Alaq Khalid, 20, observed: “They were genuinely very positive and enriching. Along with the fun and energetic atmosphere, we have seen many ideas come to life as nearly completed projects and we are very excited about the upcoming stages to finalize and hopefully execute many of them.”

UNDP Iraq and Zain Iraq will soon call for applications to receive final project proposals that will be presented to potential donors and investors. Participants will then be able to present them in the Innovation for Development Camp, which will be held by the end of November 2015 in Baghdad