Kurdistan is known for its hospitality, its resilient citizens, and its mountains. However, to be frank, Kurdistan has never been recognized as a region with experience in entrepreneurship. So when they asked me to do the first Startup Weekend Slemani in January 2013, I knew this experience would impact my community to the utmost degree. In fact, at the time, I was searching for a program that would promote this exact message.
And here we are now August 28th, at the eve of the elections in Kurdistan, preparing ourselves for three days of ‘no talk, all action.’ As with the previous Startup Weekend in January, it took vast amounts of effort and will to put the pieces of the puzzle together. We formed a team and distributed the tasks beginning in June, with almost three months ahead of us; we were determined to make this Startup Weekend Slemani August better than the last event.
From the observations that I had collected from participants, I quickly recognized that we needed to improve this time around in two different ways. Firstly, we only had one women participate as a coach in January. Women in the region are certainly just as capable of becoming entrepreneurs as men and having more of them lead as examples at SWS was just the way forward. Therefore, at SWS August you will find one woman coach, one judge, and our only speaker is a woman.
Secondly, we thank all of the sponsors of the rewards we had last year. With this in mind, we attempted at having an even better package of rewards for our winners this year. SWS is not about rewards or winners, for just participating in the event makes you a winner in your community. However, it is human nature to work harder when you perceive an incentive. Therefore, in order to establish a more productive event, we put in place a system of rewards that gives the participants a reason to try harder and create better products.
Startup Weekend Slemani, like any other project, needs a budget. Finding local sponsors to fund our event took time and effort but we were able to finally locate one to help. In addition, with only 3 weeks left, we had issues of the design of our promotional material and where to print them. It took over 80 email exchanges to finally decide where to print the materials and how the design will look. Furthermore, our talented coaches, speakers, and judges took time to find and convince. Understanding that they are all busy with their daily occupations, we made patience a virtue and waited on them to confirm their attendance.
My expectation for SWS August is that we will attract a bigger pool of entrepreneurs, we will have better ideas, more women will get involved, and the idea of entrepeurship in our community will be promoted wisely through this event.
Are you ready for Startup Weekend Slemani August?
Lead Organizer SWS January and August