U.S. Consul General Rob Waller spoke with the over 250 entrepreneurs and job seekers at the second-annual Top Mountain Business Canvas Conference on May 27 at the Rotana Hotel in Erbil. The Business Canvas Conference, supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was an opportunity for participants — both virtually and in person — to network and enhance their business and job-hunting skills.
The Conference featured a series of panels with business leaders to discuss the future of economic development in northern Iraq and share tips on applying for jobs or starting their own companies. “Opportunities like the Business Canvas Conference are invaluable, as they help strengthen connections amongst private sector actors and spark innovation,” said Zhala Sabir, Co-Founder and Managing Director of USAID partner Top Mountain.
During his opening remarks, U.S. Consul General Rob Waller affirmed the United States’ support to initiatives like the conference, which contribute to developing a robust private sector. “We are proud to support free enterprise here in Erbil and across northern Iraq, and we are committed to supporting not only local job seekers but also you entrepreneurs who are job creators. We are confident that investing in your future is good for the Kurdistan Region, good for Iraq, and good for the United States.”
The Business Canvas Conference was organized as part of the USAID-funded Business Incubator and Employment Program (BIEP), which supports youth and micro, small, and medium enterprises in parts of northern Iraq rebuild following the atrocities and destruction of ISIS. To achieve this, BIEP offers business training programs for new and aspiring entrepreneurs, organizes professional networking opportunities, and opened a business incubator in Erbil. The program also supports existing businesses in Erbil recover from the economic effects of COVID-19.