Picking up the Pace with USAID Business Support

Speeches Shim

Tuesday, June 22, 2021
With support from USAID, Peshang feels confident about his business plan and the future of GymHok.

Peshang, 21, is a Software Engineering student at Salahuddin University in Erbil. During the lockdown, he saw Iraqi businesses moving their operations online. Many businesses were able to operate virtually, except for the fitness sector. Seeing this gap, and given his academic background in software engineering, he decided to create GymHok – the first online fitness platform in Kurdistan. 

In October 2020, Peshang enrolled in USAID’s Ignite program to take his business from an idea to reality. The Ignite program helps entrepreneurs conduct market research and understand consumer behavior. He completed the program knowing his business idea was feasible and marketable. 

After Ignite, Peshang had a vision of what the application would look like, but lacked the business knowledge to follow through with his plans. In January 2021, he decided to take his business skills to the next level with USAID’s three-month Tech Incubator program. “I’m experienced in coding and creating applications, but I didn’t have the business knowledge and financial support to back it up, which is why I joined the program,” said Peshang.

The USAID Tech Incubator trains young Iraqi entrepreneurs to start and manage successful businesses in a collaborative environment where specialists and business leaders serve as mentors. At the end of the program, entrepreneurs create a fully functioning prototype of their business. “I couldn’t have progressed the way I did without [The Tech Incubator],” said Peshang, “Before the program, I had a very basic understanding of how a start-up works, and I learned things I didn’t even know I needed.”

Since completing the program, Peshang has launched his GymHok application, which provides a place for gym owners and fitness trainers to increase their reach and offer their services online. He is also building partnerships with more gym owners and sports shops to grow his application’s database and has even hired one intern, and commissioned a videographer to create GymHok’s promotional video. “I am confident with where my business is today. I plan on dedicating all my time next year to make it grow,” he said.


Last updated: November 01, 2021

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