Setting up mentorship programs in Kurdistan, Iraq
The mentorship programme in Iraq was launched in Sulaymaniyah in September 2014. Challenged by the fact that mentorship as a concept is a very new and still an unknown tool for business development the program has started off very successfully.
The initial steps were focused on providing the basics and the structure to enable a programme and to show and create an understanding for the possible gains – for the individual but also for society.
Starting off at Sulaymaniyah Chamber of Commerce with participants from companies, NGOs and government representatives invited by the chamber to create the best possible conditions for exchange of knowledge and contacts. After 4 days of intensive training a number of groups were created, each group choosing a leader of their own to drive the group. In turn the groups also selected decided themselves who should be mentors and who could be mentees.
Having moved very fast through their first steps CTS implemented a second training in December – this one providing the structure for roles and responsibilities of the mentors and mentees as well as the host organisation, how to meet and how to gain results. During the same trip a launch of the mentorship programme was held in Erbil with the Erbil Chamber of Commerce. Focused on business people. Again the chamber was inviting and setting both the agenda and the selection
Nigar Ibrahim is the CTS project manager for Iraq and sees the mentorship as a tool for development of people, business and democracy.
“There are so many people that have knowledge and character to be good mentors. There is a lot of untapped resources and the need for knowledge is great. A structured mentorship program can provide the basis for knowledge transfer, trust and new business development. To identify good leaders and to create a possibility to exchange knowledge and help each other is needed for development, not only for business but also for society at large and democracy. It can empower and help people to take charge and responsibility not only for themselves and their business but also for their country. This could of course be said about any country but with the situation that exists in Iraq makes it even more important”
“Not all problems can be solved with money – some can only be solved with human beings as resources”
Coming activities and focus
There is a request from the respective partners as well as from the selected mentors of having mentors themselves – preferably from Sweden. This would enable contacts and improved knowledge. The identified focus for the extension would be within environmental issues and solutions but also other areas such as human rights, equality and women as part of the workforce.
The two chambers in Erbil and Sulaymaniyah are taking charge of these programmes – both by providing the physical meeting places for trainings and meetings but also by supporting with staff and coaching. Today there are about 7 groups with 6 mentor-mentee couple in each.
Nigar Ibrahim is certain of the success – but she also adds:
“It is a very new concept, we need to work at creating awareness and understanding for the gains and possibilities within this structured form of networking and coaching. However my vision is that this will be rolled out all over Iraq- what works in Kurdistan will work in all of Iraq”
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