Tag Archives: Startup

Bloomberg and IBT: Business women in Iran – Ready for take off!

Excerpts of “Women in Iran Are Ready to Show They Mean Business” from Bloomberg.com:

Women in Iran are ready to make career gains in a way few of their peers can in the Gulf Arab world.

Thirteen years after Mona Hajialiasghar started out as an asset manager in Tehran, she’s chief operating officer of Kardan Investment Bank, which oversees about $300 million invested in Iran. As her country edges toward an historic agreement that promises to plug it back into the global economy, she already sees more women joining her.

“The presence of women in Iran in the workplace and in higher education is much more serious now compared to when I first started,” said Hajialiasghar, 35, who has a master’s degree in business management. “With younger women entering the market, firstly their numbers are much higher, but also their confidence is much higher.” […]

Young couples enjoy a meal in a western style restaurant in Tehran. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Young couples enjoy a meal in a western style restaurant in Tehran. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

Kardan’s chief executive officer, Majid Zamani, said that across Iran’s nine investment banks, the presence of women is high compared with other industries and in some cases it even outnumbers men like himself. “I’d say this is definitely the case in the capital markets in Iran,” Zamani said. “We’re looking for dedicated, committed people and contrary to what’s sometimes the public perception, women tend to be the strongest candidates in this regard.” […]

While women have been legally obliged to cover their hair and adapt Islamic rules of modesty in clothing since the revolution in 1979, they have never faced limitations when it comes to driving, voting and access to education. They also occupy some top political jobs – three of President Hassan Rouhani’s vice presidents are women.

Bloomberg - 2015.10.01 - Women in Iran Are Ready to Show They Mean Business 2

Employees work at the Tehran Stock Exchange in Tehran.
Photo by: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg

The nuclear deal “means economic empowerment for women in Iran,” said Suzanne DiMaggio, director of the Iran Initiative at New America Foundation in New York, a not-for-profit research organization. “Already today there are more women than men studying at Iranian universities, and they also work for a living and can own businesses and vote, so once sanctions are lifted and Iran reintegrates into the global economy, that should help women.”

Government figures show 72 percent of working women in Iran are employed by private enterprises. That’s the area of the economy that’s set to burgeon after sanctions stifled business, according to Shahindokht Molaverdi, one of the country’s three female vice presidents.

While Iranian law protects equal pay in government jobs and there’s maternity leave of as long as 12 months in some departments, women in Iran face much of the same problems as they do in the western world. There are disproportionately fewer of them in the executive suite after making up more than half of university places. They also suffer from a higher rate of unemployment, which at 19 percent is more than twice the figure for men, according to Iran’s National Statistics Organization. […]

Fatemeh Moghimi started her trucking business in Tehran 26 years ago after finishing a degree at City University in London. She’s the first woman to be elected to the board of directors of the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Industry and she employs several women as drivers.

“I was worried, because I wanted to start my business,” Moghimi, 57, said in an interview at her office at the Tehran Chamber of Commerce and Industry, where she spends her Saturday mornings mentoring dozens of mostly female entrepreneurs. “It took two years. I came across a lot of cultural barriers, with the mindset of people, rather than legal barriers.”

Excerpts of “Trendy Tehran – Meet the female entrepreneurs breaking boundaries in Iran” from the International Business Times:

Mahsa Rezazadeh started her café in Tehran seven years ago and now brings in a better wage than her husband, a lawyer. She attributes her success amid a sanctions-shattered Iranian economy to hard work and the fact that however bad things get in Iran, Iranians cannot resist the smell of a home-cooked meal and freshly brewed coffee. “People may cut other expenses but they don’t compromise their stomach,” Rezazadeh, a mother of two, tells IBTimes UK from her café Little House in central Tehran. […]

Like many Iranian entrepreneurs, Rezazadeh is hoping that the lifting of sanctions following the nuclear deal between Iran and the US will trickle down, so that those who frequent her café will have more money to spend on food and coffee. “If sanctions are lifted and my customers can pay more money and I will able to do more,” she said. […]

International Business Times - 2015.10.05 - Trendy Tehran Meet the female entrepreneurs breaking boundaries in Iran

An Iranian family look at bubbles as they shop at the main bazaar in Tehran. Photo credit: Atta Kenare/AFP/Getty

Mona Mahpeyma, 25, is a graphic design graduate and aspiring fashion designer, who owns her own outlet in Tehran. […] “At first some thought that I as a woman could not make it but […] restrictions could not stop me. In business the restrictions for women are less than other areas like politics and sports,” she said. “The main restriction in doing business is financial, which is equal for men and women.”

The sanctions had been particularly problematic for Mahpeyma as they made the raw materials she needs far more expensive. She is hoping that Iran’s textile industry can now grow meaning her costs will go down. “At the time of the international sanctions imposed on us, the market for clothing and fashion was not money making. Now, if I decide to expand my business internationally without any sanctions I will have the opportunity to present myself as an Iranian designer internationally. Now I hope for a better change for women like me who have their own startups.”

Other interesting posts on Iranian women: https://theotheriran.com/tag/women/

Iran’s tech sector displayed its potential in Berlin

Iranian entrepreneurs and business owners gathered in Berlin for a three-day start-up conference to explore opportunities in Iran’s high-tech sector.

The iBRIDGE Berlin conference was opened by American start-up guru David McClure with a keynote speech to more than 80 business owners coming from Iran, Europe and the US.

The conference attracted over 2,000 attendees and online viewers, aimed at studying the role that a high-tech entrepreneurial ecosystem can play in Iran’s economic development and diversification.

The event featured keynote speeches, panel discussions, dozens of workshops and breakout sessions, as well as touring local start-ups in Berlin, widely regarded as the hub of newly-established businesses in Europe.

According to organizers, the conference was to focus on start-up mentorship, investment guidance and exchange of ideas like branding and marketing of products and services. Panel groups also dwelled on branding design, social innovation, social entrepreneurship in Iran, venture capitalism and big data.

iBRIDGE Berlin is a sequel to iBRIDGE Berkeley, the innovative conference held at the University of California, Berkeley on September 6, 2014.

About iBridges
The iBRIDGES initiative is an open, inclusive and collaborative community, free from any political or ideological affiliations, that works towards bringing to life a diversity of initiatives, platforms and spaces that all tangibly serve to contribute to the development of the high-tech entrepreneurial sector in Iran.  The initiative was started in 2014 as a collective effort of Iranians interested in and involved with high technology entrepreneurship in the US.

Related articles:
The other Iran | Tag | Startup,
The Guardian | From Digikala to Hamijoo: the Iranian startup revolution, phase two,
Financial Times | Iran’s tech sector to display potential in Berlin (PDF),
Reuters | Iranian entrepreneurs thirst for foreign funding, expertise

Sources: Press TV | Economy, iBridges.org

Women are at the forefront of Iran’s Startup boom

Techly published this article by Mitra Bahrami about women in Iran’s startups:

Last July, the Iranian startup community opened itself up to the Economist to introduce three of its largest internet companies to the world. Less than two months later, Techcrunch highlighted Iran as the next startup ecosystem to emerge. And in the middle of it all, the Iranian-born-and-educated Maryam Mirzakhani became the first female recipient of the Fields Medal, the most prestigious award in mathematics.

Having spent a good part of this past year in Iran and some of it working at MAPS, a relatively young but highly promising and inspiring startup incubator, what surprises me is not so much that this is finally happening, but rather that it took so long for it to happen. Just consider some of these statistics. Iran has one of the youngest and most educated populations anywhere in the Middle East. More than 70% of Iranians are younger than 35, and Iran’s literacy rate stands at 85% (OECD/WorldBank), a number that increases to 97% among young adults (aged between 15 and 24), without any gender discrepancy and well ahead of the regional average of 62%. Iran’s rigorous education system and college entrance exams filter the best and brightest for its leading institutions of higher learning, where only 10% make it to the highly selective public universities. Maryam Mirzakhani was the product of this system, and her Alma Mater, Sharif University, continues to inch upwards in the rankings among the world’s very best.

Another secret that is gradually bubbling to the surface is that women are at the forefront of this technological breakthrough.


60% percent of college graduates in Iran are women, many of them trailblazers in their own right. Satratech, a MAPS startup, is a predominantly female-run operation having 8 of its 12 engineers as well as its co-founder all women. Shafajoo, its health and medical application, received top honors at the 6th annual Iranian web show in 2014, AND the software gained its 100,000th user within 6 months of its launch. Just this past month, Iran held its first startup weekend for women, one of a handful of countries to ever do so.

There are of course many challenges facing the high-tech community in Iran, challenges such as the US-imposed sanctions, the internal censors, and the continuing brain drain. But these have been a part of life in the country for a long time now, and the Iranians have managed to make their headways despite these problems. In many ways, these challenges have made them more resilient, more resourceful, more creative. Despite the sanctions for instance, you can find any high-tech consumer item you wish in Iran as a visit to Payetakht will attest to. The internal censors have made it inconvenient, and at times difficult to access many sites or to connect to the outside world, but by one account up to 70% or Iranians bypass government filters, a realization that may finally be encouraging the government to ease up the restrictions. And even though the brain drain must be felt on many levels in Iran, it hasn’t stopped the country from embracing internet banking, mobile bill-pay, and the spread and wide use of technology in a host of areas. In fact Iran has one of highest numbers of internet users in the world, ranking 13 when those numbers are taken as a percentage of population, well above, China, Russia, India, Brazil and Turkey.

Outside the country Iranians have cemented their reputation as pioneers in science and technology and by the looks of it, they are doing the same inside. Yes, the road inside has been more challenging with many more ups and downs, but Iranians seem to be overcoming them one by one. Iran is coming online as a high-tech powerhouse. The big question is, how far will it go, and how fast.

Mitra is an independent Communications Coach based in Silicon Valley, specializing in business writing and cultural aspects of communication. She is the founder of the Writing Academy in Palo Alto and has worked closely with Stanford University on a variety of writing and communications courses geared towards their international graduate students and visiting scholars. Prior to her teaching career Mitra was a producer at KRON TV in San Francisco where she was nominated for an Emmy (2007). Mitra started her career in Silicon Valley in 1980 as a technical writer and trainer in the high-tech industry (Cromemco, ASK Computers, Visicorp, SPC, Intuit). She has a BA in Linguistics and Sociology from University of York, UK (1980).

Source: techly – Iran Tech & Startup Scene News | Iranian Startups, Unveiled

Iranian startup Ponisha: The Heaven of Iranian Freelancers‏

Iranian Startup for freelancers PonishaThere are many international online outsourcing websites such as Freelancer, Odesk, and Elance but the major issues of Iranians with these sites, is online money transactions abroad: this process is almost impossible as Visa, MasterCard, and PayPal all are closed for Iranians, due to international sanctions.

Ponisha is the largest place for freelancers in Iran to get projects done and also to make money. It was launched in Dec, 2011 to help companies and individuals outsource their projects and hire people for short durations. It is also beneficial for entrepreneurs and startups to outsource technical parts of their projects.

Nima Nourmohammady Founder and CEO at 'ihome.ir' and 'ponisha.ir'

Nima Nourmohammady Founder and CEO at ‘ihome.ir’ and ‘ponisha.ir’

Here is  Nima Nourmohammady, the founder of Ponisha:  “Most people usually look for full-time jobs in a company, but I believe freelancing can be a full-time job, and with some training in marketing and negotiation, anyone with any skill could become successful. The benefits are endless. Just imagine there is no boss. In this situation, you can work whenever or wherever you want and on whatever project you desire and still make more money than people with regular employment.”

Currently Ponisha has more than 50.000 freelancers, with 2400 completed projects and a revenue of 5,103,158,949 Rials ($157,000) for freelancers. Nourmohammady said that the main goal of Ponisha  is to expand. “Our main and most important target is to reach 1 million registered members. We keep adding features, updates and promotions to keep our customers satisfied. Most Ponisha’s growth comes from our organic growth and we are thankful to our users who keep introducing us to their friends and networks.”

techly.co | Ponisha: The Heaven of Iranian Freelancers‏, about.me/nima.nourmohammady

Nazanin Daneshvar: Tehran’s Trail Blazing Tech Entrepreneur

As a young businesswoman in Iran, Nazanin Daneshvar didn’t plan to become one of Tehran’s trail blazing techpreneurs.  She has overcome obstacles of both age, and gender. The 30-year old is part of a startup scene so vibrant, more than one hundred people recently competed for a place at the country’s first private accelerator, providing mentorship as well as funding.

Tehran’s techpreneurs say one of the few benefits of sanctions are the almost limit-less opportunities to localize popular Western sites, like YouTube and PayPal. […]

Women dominate the hard sciences at Iranian universities, studying subjects like engineering, math and chemistry. And, women are involved in Tehran’s tech sector, but Daneshvar says the real problem is getting the older segments of society to take web businesses seriously.

Shifting traditional mindsets and uptake is a slow process, but with a compelling sales pitch, Daneshvar and her sales team have more than 10,000 merchants on board.

“We are solving a problem. Advertising is so expensive, and there is a financial crunch, so we say to merchants, just give us a discount, and we will get customers for you and bring a lot of PR. There’s limited disposable income, so if you can double the performance you can get out of that, why wouldn’t you? We only sell as many deals as the businesses can handle.”

Takhfifan earns a variable commission on the sale of each coupon for discounted services. […]

The company has grown from two sisters in a tiny office, selling one deal a week, to a staff of 60, with deals in seven different cities. Daneshvar’s entirely boot-strapped business has seen 100% growth since launch.

“The first year we doubled in growth every two months. This is still not comparable to Groupon. This is organic growth. We don’t have a marketing budget.”

Daneshvar says most Iranian startups operate with zero to little funding. Wealthy parents invest their money in property, rather than their children’s tech aspirations. In her case, Daneshvar says her parents’ support came in the form of many middle class families: room and board.

The success of Takhfifan has led Daneshvar to develop a new venture Tarinan, a review site, driven by customer demand. […]

Tarinan, a local search and review-based platform launched last year and we’ve just launched mobile. We have more than 30,000 reviews without advertising, not a single penny spent and our company is completely boot-strapped – both of them.”

Denashvar has won all sorts of awards for her site, including recognition from Silicon Valley, but she says the real challenge goes back to mentorship. It’s a culture that doesn’t exist in Iran – yet.

“People are changing jobs every three months, every six months, because they don’t have proper mentorship to teach them how to work. In the US, people take lots of internships, here there is no such eco-system. People don’t have this tradition of looking at a career. The only option is taking over their parents’ shop.”

But that’s changing. Tehran’s tech community is banking on leaders like Denashvar, to do more than recruit others to the sector; they’re counting on her, with a requisite failure and success under her belt, to be one of Iran’s pioneering mentors.

Source: Forbes | Tehran’s trail blazing techpreneur