The Association of Municipalities and Towns of Slovenia is the leading partner of Peer-to-Peer cooperation project with the Iraqi province of Basra. Mid-June the project consortium, comprised of Stritih, consulting for sustainable development, Zavita and the Faculty of Electrical Engineering, University of Ljubljana, held a joined event in Basra and online, to celebrate the fruitful cooperation. The project was caried out under the Supporting Recovery and Stability in Iraq through Local Development programme, funded by the European Union (EU) and implemented by the United Nations Development programme (UNDP).
Namely, Basra Business Incubator (BBI) was established in the province of Basra based on Slovenian know-how and experience. The BBI was equipped, staffed, and trained through the projects financial support. The BBI management team and the Basra governorates working group used the financial support of the project also to organize a competition for the best business ideas. In this process the methodology of financial participatory approach was used to facilitate and guide the process. Out of 228 applications of business proposals, the most promising 16 were selected in three evaluation rounds, which became the first users of the business incubator. The selected participants received intensive training in the field of entrepreneurship and received a cash prize, intended for start-up and support activities of their company or. entrepreneurial idea. The Slovenian mayors dr. Vladimir Prebilič and Tine Radinja shared their experience with the business incubator and with the organization of co-working spaces with Basra’s team and met up with the Basra team at an educational workshop in Erbil.
The project also drew on the experience of the Employment Service of Slovenia and the company Moje delo.si, based on which a model of the employment platform was transferred to the Basra region. The online platform enables the publication of vacancies and the entry of jobseekers, including CVs, and there is also a section available for small and micro companies looking for investors. The first of them are the winners of the competition for the best entrepreneurial idea.
As part of the project, which took place in a somewhat truncated form due to restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, educational video material explaining good practices from Slovenia was prepared. Also, a video conference and educational video on crisis management from the perspective of local communities and the support of volunteers was prepared. The video is based on experiences of mayor mag. Romana Lesjak, Uroš Brežan, Marko Funkl and dr. Vladimir Prebilič. All educational content is available online on the website https://p2p-slovenia-basra.com/.
At the closing ceremony representatives of the Basra governorate presented their plans for the future. The governorate stays firm that both, the BBI and the employment platform, will receive long-term funding. To ensure this a sustainability action plan was developed. As stated by Mr. Alladin Mubarak, the governorate plans to deepen the partnerships established in the project between regional authorities and business organizations in the region. For such collaborations to bear fruit the Basra Governorate will adopt an appropriate legislative framework.
At the end of the event, Basra representatives organized a product fair for the promotion of all the winners of the local competition for the best business idea. You can find a description of all winning business ideas here.