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Hayder Hamzoz of The Station: First Space in Iraq

Hayder Hamzoz, founder of the The Station, the first coworking space in Iraq, was interviewed by Sajid Islam on June 25, 2018.

About The Station

Entrepreneurs in Iraq are always looking for a safe place people can think freely without limitations or policies.  The Station encourages them to launch their startups. After visiting some spaces in the United States, Hayder found that coworking was the idea that they needed.  Entrepreneurs are not just looking for a space, they want people who will support their ideas. They need a place that can provide all the equipments, technologies, extra fees, and human resources.  That is what The Station is for. In fact, The Station has the fastest internet in all of Baghdad.

Before The Station opened, they had a community of entrepeneurs, but no money.  So, they looked for partners who believed in the project and trusted them. Their partners and the community helped build the space from the ground up in nine months.  In February 2018, the first coworking space in Iraq was launched.

Free For All

The Station is a space that is open for everyone who has any idea to work free of charge.  There, they can meet clients, teams, and network with other people. It acts like a transit area.

Then, when entrepeneurs have a solid plan for launching their startup, The Station holds an interview with them for consultation and training.  If they are ready, they move to the next section of the building which is the coworking space. This section is where there are desks and offices for them to use at a small fee, around $100 per month.  It is very cheap and low cost for startups. Once in the space, members can help one another get started. There are currently around 15 startups that operate from within The Station.

The main goal of The Station is not to profit.  The main goal is to encourage startups to continue their work.  The fee mostly covers the cost of operations they have. Since, team members work as volunteers, they have sponsors from private sectors that further lower costs for entrepeneurs.

Team

Hayder acts as a board member of The Station.  He goes back and forth between Baghdad and Virginia working as the PR director and leader of the social media team.  There are nine main people on the team. They consist of the cofounders, programming managers, and research team. These are all volunteer positions.  So, there is no income from The Station except for the people who do the services like cleaning, restaurant, etc. It is a small team with big dreams.

It was difficult for Hayder to make the decision to work at The Station.  He has a family and a daughter and traveling between Baghdad and Virginia takes a lot of time away from them.  However, there is a sort of satisfaction one feels when helping the community. When you are doing that is making a real impact, it is rewarding in itself.  Hayder gains a lot of experience from the diverse entrepeneurs The Station houses. He hopes to build a bridge between entrepreneurs in Iraq and the US.

 


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