Entrepreneurship for All


Bringing entrepreneurship to the people.

Are you interested in learning how to start a business? Do you wish this training was in your local language? Do you want to meet other people who do, too?

In partnership with the International Organization for Migration (IOM), Five One Labs has a great opportunity for you! We are pleased to announce the launch of our newest programming called “Entrepreneurship for All,” a series of trainings and events in Kurdish, Arabic and English for anyone who is interested in innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and making an impact in their community.


Through April and May, Five One Labs will make high-quality entrepreneurship training more accessible to diverse communities across the Kurdistan Region of Iraq and will support newly-launched startups in reaching their full potential.

We will host a number of in-person, intensive workshops in Erbil and Sulaimani in English, Arabic and Kurdish. The trainings will include helpful and practical topics like:

  • Thinking of a creative business idea,
  • Improving your practical business skills,
  • Doing research on your customers, and
  • Improving your skills as a leader.

We will publish the dates, times and locations on this blog post as the schedule is finalized, so stay tuned!


For those who may not be able to join us in person, we welcome you to attend one of our four online innovation trainings. If you are interested in starting a business but don’t have an idea yet, we have the perfect workshop for you! We will be hosting three online idea development and creativity trainings in English, Arabic and Kurdish where we will walk through steps for how you can create your own business idea. 


Finally, we will be organizing our second weekend-long Startup Bootcamp for young innovators in Erbil on May 4 and 5! The Startup Bootcamp (in English) will take participants through an shortened version of the steps you need to learn to start your business, including thinking of your idea, doing research on your customers, building a prototype or sample of your product and presenting and pitching your idea.

If you are interested in applying to participate in the Bootcamp, please fill out this application by Tuesday, April 24.

We invite everyone to attend our in-person and online trainings and all events are free! No past experience with entrepreneurship is necessary. 

If you have any questions, please email us at info@fiveonelabs.org or send us a message on Facebook!

We look forward to meeting you all in person or online and are excited to get you #StartupReady!

#GIRLPOWER: Expanding Tech and Entrepreneurship Opportunities for Women

“If women believe in themselves and have enough faith and confidence, they can not only be good at what they do but excel." - Safa Salwan
 Photo by Re:Coded

Photo by Re:Coded

Global trends have shown that there is growing interest in STEM, but did you know that across the Arab world, women now earn more science degrees on a percentage basis than women in the United States? And in certain countries in the Middle East, like Jordan, girls have been outperforming boys in every subject?

In keeping with this trend, we want to ensure that young women in Iraq, particularly those who have been displaced, have had equal access to events and support that cultivate their creativity and encourages them to pursue innovative career options.

In partnership with Re:Coded, Zain Iraq, and the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), we sought to do just that. In November, we hosted the Women in Tech and Entrepreneurship Summit at the Tech Hub in Erbil to bring together inspiring female leaders and innovators to explore opportunities for women in technology and entrepreneurship in Iraq. 

The participants had the opportunity to participate in one of two hands-on, crash-course workshops about coding and entrepreneurship and then listen to inspiring innovators and founders from Iraq talk about their careers.

Speakers included a leader from the refugee community who started her own business; Safa Salwan, Founder of Women Techmakers Baghdad; Ravan Al-Taie, Founder of The Book Cafe Erbil; and Ava Nadir, Head of Zain Kurdistan Marketing Communication and PR Department. The discussion revolved around important issues in Iraq, including the digital gender gap, opportunities and challenges in the tech and startup sectors in the country and the importance of role models to inspire more women to enter the world of technology and entrepreneurship.

Five One Labs and its partner organization hope to continue to encourage women in Iraq to excel by providing them with the support and resources that they need to succeed and by cultivating a community of like-minded women across Iraq. As  highlighted by Safa Salwan during the panel discussion, “If women believe in themselves and have enough faith and confidence, they can not only be good at what they do but excel".


 Photo by Re:Coded

Photo by Re:Coded

Apply today for the Entrepreneur Academy!

Five One Labs is pleased to announce that we are launching the applications for our Entrepreneur Academy in Erbil, Iraq!

The Entrepreneur Academy is a training course that takes place every Sunday and Tuesday evenings (5:30-7:30pm) from December 3rd - February 6th. The Academy is a highly selective, focused, and energetic program for people who are planning to launch their own businesses or who have launched their business within the past year.


We are recruiting strong entrepreneurs from diverse communities including refugees, internally displaced people, and locals. If you are passionate about a startup idea and want to learn the skills to turn it into a business, this program is right for you!

The full two-month training program costs $250, however limited financial scholarships are available. SPECIAL PROMOTION: If you apply before November 7th, you get $100 off of the full price (if accepted). 

The application is here. Applications are due by Thursday, November 23 at 11:59pm.

Please read below to learn more about the program, the application process, and whether you are eligible to apply:

The Program

Five One Labs is a startup incubator in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI) that aims to empower entrepreneurs to build successful businesses. We are launching a two-month Entrepreneur Academy for entrepreneurs, professionals and students from November 26-January 28. (The program will have a two week break from Dec 24-Jan 6).

The Entrepreneur Academy is a twice-a-week course that teaches you the skills to take your business from idea to launch. You understand your customers, define your value proposition, build out your business and financial models, and build and improve your prototype.

You will go through intensive business and entrepreneurship training, and will be connected with legal, marketing and other advice to help you think through your business. Winners of “competitions” throughout the program may be linked to world class mentors or provided additional support for launching their business. Finally, all Five One Labs entrepreneurs are welcomed into a community of likeminded entrepreneurs, both in their training and through optional networking events.


What Do You Get From Joining the Entrepreneur Academy

We want to give you the resources you need to grow your business. This could mean a number of things:

  • Practical training to help you learn the fundamentals of starting a business
  • Connections to the business community, investors, and champions
  • Connections to marketing, design, and technical advice as you develop your product or service
  • The full support of a world-class team of trainers, advisors, and friends at Five One Labs who will push for you to succeed
  • Access to social events and an entrepreneurial family to share the experience with!

Who is Eligible to Apply?

All Five One Labs entrepreneurs must be committed to attending the full two months of training (from December through early February). The training will be held on Sunday and Tuesday evening from 5:30-7:30pm.

The program will be held in English, so candidates must have good written and spoken English ability in order to apply. This means being able to converse easily and understand business terms.


  • Are an aspiring entrepreneur with a creative idea for a new business
  • Have strong self-motivation and professionalism
  • Possess a good level of English speaking and writing skills
  • Are willing to work with a diverse group of people in a multicultural environment
  • Are able to attend the incubator in-person in Erbil each Sunday and Tuesday from 5:30-7:30pm

Your business:

  • Is innovative and has a high chance for success
  • Has a scalable model for growth and income-generation
  • Is in the idea stage or  later of business development (ie, you already have a set plan and strategy, and just need to implement it)

Finally, we are looking for candidates from very diverse communities, including locals, refugees, and internally displaced people in Iraq. If you are not sure you are eligible or have any other questions, please email us at applications@fiveonelabs.org and we will respond immediately!

Program Cost

The cost of the program is $250. The cost will include two trainings per week for eight weeks (for a total of 16 training sessions), access to advisors and potential additional support, and individual advice from the Five One Labs training team during “Office Hours” every other week.

We welcome diversity in our program and encourage all individuals to apply. In order to ensure that those who are interested can participate, we have a limited number of scholarships available to cover some or all of the cost for entrepreneurs on a needs-based system. If you are not able to participate without financial support, you can apply for one of our scholarships using this link.

SPECIAL PROMOTION:  If you submit your application by the early deadline of Tuesday, November 7th at 11:59pm, the cost for you will only be $150! (Note: You still must be accepted to the program.)

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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

What is an incubator? An incubator is an organization that helps entrepreneurs start businesses. Incubators help entrepreneurs develop their business and solve problems they might face while launching.

What is an entrepreneur? An entrepreneur is someone who is starting a new business to solve a problem in a creative, innovative way.

What level of English is required? The program will be held entirely in English. This means that you have to be able to converse freely and to feel confident about presenting and pitching your startup idea in front of an audience in English. But don’t worry: there will be special sessions for startup, business and financial terminology as part of the training, and entrepreneurs will be encouraged to work together and help each other.

What if I don’t speak English? Don’t worry, we’ll be running Kurdish and Arabic programming in the Spring and next Fall!

What will our schedule be each week? Over the course of 8 weeks, there will be an curriculum that will cover topics related to launching a businesses, such as customer discovery, defining your value proposition, building business and financial models, and strategy, among others.

There will be two training sessions per week at the Five One Labs coworking space in Erbil, along with opportunities to put into practice what you learn and to get feedback from your trainers. Over the course of the incubator there will be a few sessions of office hours with the trainer, who will be available to answer any questions you may have about the topics covered or the development of our business.

Startup Bootcamp: Meet Erbil's Newest Entrepreneurs

Five One Labs is proud to announce Erbil's newest batch of entrepreneurs, fresh off their first Startup Bootcamp! 

Last weekend, forty incredible young entrepreneurs gathered in Erbil to learn the skills and mindsets of entrepreneurship and to take their startups from idea to reality. As part of Five One Labs’ first Startup Bootcamp, these 12 startup teams interviewed customers, brainstormed creative solutions, built prototypes, and pitched in front of a panel of esteemed judges. They even managed to squeeze in some fun into the schedule!


The forty participants were chosen from over great 90 applicants. These impressive participants came from all over the region: some were from Erbil and Sulaimani in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq, while others were displaced from Southern Iraq or Syria.

The startup ideas were as diverse as the participants. Ideas ranged from a taxi-hailing app that would provide safe taxi rides for women or the elderly; a gaming site in Kurdish and Arabic, designers or writers; and an event-planning service that ensured conferences and other events were environmentally sustainable. Other ideas included a platform to connect pharmacies with patients that allowed medicine deliveries even in the middle of the night. Entrepreneurs aimed to solve societal problems, generate impact, and fill gaps in the market.

At the end of the first day, entrepreneurs had an opportunity to meet with mentors – entrepreneurial professionals in Erbil – to discuss their business model and get advice. At the end of the second day, the entrepreneurs met with their mentors again to practice their pitch before the final competition.

Finally, after two days of hard work, the teams pitched their startups in front of a panel of impressive judges, including a local entrepreneur as well as representatives from the US Consulate General in Erbil, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and the American University of Iraq, Sulaimani. Teams showed their prototypes and explained their business models and opportunities for growth.

So, who were the winning teams? The first place team was “Virtual Teacher” – a virtual reality startup that is building an educational game to teach refugees and IDP’s in Iraq the local language. Second place went to “On Time, Under Budget,” a platform to connect freelancers with organizations in need of short term design or coding skills. And third place went to a startup that will build beautiful, low-cost furniture out of recycled shipping materials.

Congratulations to all of Startup Bootcamp participants! Keep an eye out for more videos and interviews with our participants in the coming weeks, and check out our Facebook page for more photos! 

Interested in joining a Startup Bootcamp? The next one will be in mid-September in Erbil!