Last week KAPITA held a business meetup to discuss the role of large companies in the private sector in supporting and developing SMEs and emerging enterprises. Many prominent companies attended the meetup including our strategic partner Asiacell’s PR personnel and representatives from General Electric (GE) , AlMuhamoon AlMutahidoon, Pfizer, and many other young participants part of different organizations and startups in the Iraqi ecosystem.
The meetup initially talked about the Iraqi startup ecosystem being established by the support of foreign organizations and NGOs and it still is in many of its parts. But gradually many local large companies started to contribute through different instruments. For example, Asiacell’s team flagged the importance of supporting and developing the SMEs and startups ecosystem not only because it is part of their Social Responsibility Strategy but also because they have a family of over 15 million client base. Therefore Asiacell feels that they have the accountability and the commitment to give back to the community they are serving. Either by providing technology solutions or education infrastructure through training and development centers.
Other companies have also admired the younger generation and their will in making a change to the startups' ecosystem and in any business in the economy. They believe that empowering the youth further through investment and education can lead to greater contributions to the youth’s part. Additionally, the meetup discussed the potential of internships in large companies, GE is one of the companies that provide internships as a mean to develop the skill set of the youth and to give them a practical exposure into large companies’ operations.
Furthermore, we discussed the current relationships between large firms and SMEs/startups, which is mainly based on support and collaboration rather than a commerce relationship. One of IAIN angel investors and CEO of Rawnaq Aldur, Hadi Alhaidari, articulated the significance of working with local startups as they have the advantage of the domestic mindset, therefore they have a huge scope in serving large companies in many aspects. But on the other hand, he mentioned that many local startups struggle with lack of quality and efficiency in providing products/services. Hence why large firms prefer to outsource work to foreign companies.
To conclude, to further develop the ecosystem and to reach sustainability, we mainly need our local Iraqi large companies to take action by investing and advancing startups in various fields. This will eventually lead to the relationship moving from the nurturing stage to a business partnership stage where all parties benefit. Consequently, our private sector will grow and create other knock-on effects like job creation and foreign investments.