Updated: Feb 9, 2021
Every once in a while we discover an incredible organization like Five One Labs. Or in this case they find us. Five One Labs is the brainchild of founders Alice Bosley and Patricia Letayf, who identified a need in post-conflict regions to address economic recovery by supporting local entrepreneurs. They brought together their expertise to form Five One Labs, a solution to the humanitarian challenge resulting from war. They established an innovation incubator in the Kurdistan region of Iraq and began a program called “Female Founders Fellowship” that focuses on women entrepreneurs who face the burden of local cultural norms that restrict access to finance and movement.
The Kurdish region fraught with conflict throughout history, is nestled in the north central territory of the middle east. Since the beginning of recorded history, the area has experienced conflict. Today Kurdistan is an autonomous entity under the Iraqi constitution led by the Kurdistan Regional Government and an independent Kurdish Parliament. However, incursions by terrorist group ISIS continues to impede peace throughout the region. Yet, people fleeing conflict in neighboring places find sanctuary in Kurdistan. According to UNHCR, “As of 2019, almost 2 million people remain displaced inside Iraq -over half of whom have been displaced for more than three years- and 250,000 are hosted in neighboring countries. Of the total number of internally displaced, 71 percent have taken refuge in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq.” The immense economic impact has potential for an equally grand commercial expansion.
Five One Labs serves refugees as business advisors and provides training to entrepreneurs establishing and growing small businesses in Kurdistan. Internally displaced people face many of the same challenges people resettled in Europe, Canada or the United States do. Most need to reestablish their identity, have limited access to finance or lack of understanding of local regulation. For women, they often experience additional gender-based restrictions. Working with a reputable organization helps legitimize their businesses.
We recognize the unique synergy between our organizations and are excited to announce our partnership. Keep an eye out for announcements in the future to hear more about our collaboration.