The BIP Business Development Project in Iraq provides excellent results

The Iraqi Ministry of Labour has for several years and with great dedication supported and actively participated in the programs that Business Innovation Programs (BIP) has been implementing in Iraq. The Iraqi NGO Alola is responsible for “The Women Entrepreneurship Program” where women develop and start their own business.

Business Innovation Programs (BIP) has until 2015 mainly assisted with the training of trainers and implementation of courses for starting new businesses. In 2015 and 2016 BIPs role expanded also to include consulting and training of regional coordinators to follow up existing businesses. A test of the BIP concept was also conducted in refugee camps with great success.

Results presented in the table below are based on reports from local partners. For 2016 the results are four to six times higher than the aims of the project.

Ministry of Youth & Sport Women Entrepreneur Ministry of Labour Refugee camps (test) Sum
Certified trainers 114 14 (10) 73 5 new (refugees) 218
Participants 2012 1,554   980   2,534
Participants 2013 2,181   1,979   4,160
Participants 2014 1,005   5,251   6,206
Participants 2015 - 693 3,987 139 4,819
Participants 2016 (as of June) - 569 5,834 60 6,463
Sum participants 4,740 1,262 18,031 199 24,232
Businesses established 2012 17   70   87
Businesses established 2013 22   267   289
Businesses established 2014 28   411   439
Businesses established 2015 - 148 645   793
Businesses established 2016 - 109 786   895
Sum businesses established 67 257 2,179 2,503

By June 2016, Business Innovation Programs had achieved having more than 220 certified Entrepreneur Trainers all over Iraq. This has been possible due to a close and active cooperation with Iraqi Ministries and other local partners. The costs for trainers and Start-Up Trainings are close to 100% financed by our Iraqi partners. The Ministry of Labour & Social Affairs has also established a credit line for new businesses. To be able to apply for funding from this credit line, all applicants need to have attended the BIP Start-Up course.

From 2012 until June 2016 the above projects have resulted in the establishment of more than 2,500 new companies and nearly 25,000 people have attended the Business Innovation Programs Start-Up Trainings.

Over 20 Exciting Years with Business Innovation Programs (BIP)

On the morning the 2nd of May 1996 at 09.00 am the first meeting between Jon Steinar Østfold and Bjørn Reite took place at the regional agency for development in Sarpsborg Norway. Jon had returned to Norway after several years abroad working for VingCard (hotel card lock manufacturer with head office in Moss).

At this point there were more than 12.000 Bosnian refugees in Norway and discussion was about how to use their knowledge in order to increase export and import together with local Norwegian companies.  Jon Steiner kept saying that in export the most important thing is to find the right people to cooperate with, they have be reliable, know the culture and the language.

Based on this discussion the “Ostfold model” was established in 1996, aiming to support Bosnian refugees to work in Norwegian companies and by doing that strengthen the company’s ability to do business in the Balkans. In addition to that, Bosnian refugees in Norway were given knowledge of how to start businesses and the first practical material for startups was made in Bosnian language.

This idea was presented to the Norwegian Refugee Council, and together “the Ostfold model” and NRC started the first business centre in the city of Sanski Most, Bosnia in 1997.

The center was manned with trained Bosnians returning from Norway, trained in Sarpsborg, and became an immediate success.  More than 200 local entrepreneurs attended the Business Start-up training in Sanski Most the first year, and a small credit line was established. 52 started a real business and 29 entrepreneurs were given loans up to 2000 Euro. A year later BIP made a survey and 27 of the companies that got loans had survived and created 198 workplaces. All these companies were working in production.

Norwegian visit to Business Centre in Sanski Most

The Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and NORAD were at this time interested in business development as a part of aid and cooperation in development projects, and “the Ostfold model” was supported and the programs were expanded.

In 1998 we got the first Credit Line in place in Sanski Most and meetings were held between Norwegian and Bosnian companies.

Subsequently, in January 1999, Business innovation Programs (BIP) was established as a nonprofit foundation, with head office in Moss Norway.

More about BIP's history and development...