Eight agribusiness start-ups in Iraq receive further coaching and in-kind support within AMBERO Entrepreneurship programme

As part of the GIZ Private Sector Development and Employment Promotion (PSD) Project in Iraq, AMBERO implemented the project “Entrepreneurship program for start-up and MSME development, innovation, and job creation in the agribusiness sector”, focussing on supporting the development of promising business ideas in the downstream segments of agricultural value chains, particularly in the field of processing, marketing, and service provision. This project aimed to incentivize and drive innovation by strengthening MSMEs in Iraq, supporting the strengthening of entrepreneurial and innovation culture and promoting targeted potential entrepreneurs/MSME owners that will equip these young people with the necessary skills required by the Iraqi economy to grow competitively and prosper. 

The programme in Baghdad and Basra started in June 2021 and ended mid-2023. The implementation activities were developed progressively and began by equipping the implementation team with reasonable understanding of the agribusiness dynamics in Baghdad and Basra governorate through field research, market assessment and focus group meetings. Based on the derived information and knowledge on the agribusiness status as well as a comprehensive outreach campaign, the programme selected the participants of the programme, for Baghdad 101 (66 male, 35 female), and for Basra 113 (73 male, 40 females). 

Business development and entrepreneurial activities begins with ideas and how to develop these ideas. Hence, phase 1 incorporated ideation onsite and online training supported by international and national experts and participants groupings based on their selected VC and potential type of agribusiness they planned to develop. 

The ideation phase required the participants to submit business plans (BPs) to be promoted to the incubation phase where they would receive further online and onsite training and individual and group coaching. Based on rigorous selection exercise including selection criteria to evaluate the BPs and how far the selected participants were committed to the programme, 75 ideas were selected to receive incubation and coaching support. 

The incubation and coaching activities were implemented through onsite and online sessions. There were advanced sessions including innovation life cycle, risk management, quality and quality control and business branding. At the end of the incubation phase the participants had to submit developed BPs so that the implementation team selected 25 ideas further pitch their start-up ideas or projects. 

The implementation team and the international experts were engaged in the selection of the developed BPs and the pitching to be promoted to receive in-kind support. Eight start-ups were selected to receive further mentoring and in-kind support. 

They all showed real drive to continue their start-ups and learn from their experiences, be it success or failure. Some of them started expanding their size of operation and production. One indicator of success is their determination to apply the principles of project management to develop their start-up. They also realized that although the availability of business financing is critical, it is not the only determining factor for success. We observed that, besides the limited in-kind support, the participants required more time to prepare what they need to commence their start-up. They realized how important it is to start small scale business to reduce risk and build experience. They all appreciated the knowledge they acquired with respect to develop business and the importance of innovation for success by adding value to the product or service. 


Learn more about these eight success stories, their business plans and what they gained through the programme: