Have a business idea? This Jordanian organization has helped launch 100 new businesses
VIDEO: With USAID support, Jordan's premier start-up incubator expands beyond Amman
With USAID support, the ICT start-up incubator iPARK has assisted 77 businesses, 23 in Amman and 54 in Irbid, to develop their business model and add employees. These new businesses have created 327 high-value jobs, generating $1.59 million dollars in new investment. A further 12 companies are slated for incubation in Aqaba, where USAID assisted iPARK with launching its third incubator in October 2017.
INFOGRAPHIC: With USAID Support, iPARK-Startup Incubator Takes Its Services Across Jordan
A grantee of the USAID Jordan Competitiveness Program (JCP), the business incubator iPARK, based in Amman, recently expanded its service to Aqaba following its successful expansion to Irbid last year. The Irbid incubator has outpaced expectations in its first six months, already filling the space with new tenants and creating 130 new jobs. This follows a successful four-year run in Amman, which has seen several dozen startups grow their businesses with USAID support and create 197 new jobs in the high-value knowledge economy. The Aqaba incubator is expected to continue this trend, with space for 12 new incubated companies.
Both the pace and geographic reach of iPARK’s growth speak to the success of the incubation model as well as USAID’s commitment to extending technical assistance and business support to entrepreneurs beyond Amman. Indeed, nearly half of the 327 jobs so far generated by iPARK with USAID assistance have been created in Irbid, with dozens more expected at the new Aqaba facility in the coming months.
SUCCESS STORY: The Coding Circle
While programing has become the new trend for tech-savvy adults, kids too are keen to learn how to develop web, games, and mobile applications of their own.
Ruba Asfour and Jida Sunna, friends of the same passion, have ever been quite the advocates of cutting-edge literacy for kids.
And today, it comes as no surprise that the two young ladies, previously owning their educational platforms for kids, are co-running the ﬁrst franchise of the Dubai-based tech education company: the Coding Circle.
“We offer a high-level curriculum designed for children aged 7 and above. You’d be surprised that in such an early age, kids have shown a great ability to learn programing languages that adults themselves are learning,” says Jida.
The Coding Circle teaches young students coding using programming tools of developers unlike simpliﬁed programming systems for beginners. The courses come in four streams: web development, apps development; iOS and Android, and gaming.
But who walks these kids through the 'coding circle'?
Just as for kids, the company oﬀers a great career growth opportunity for adults: “We look for part-time programmers who seek to gain teaching background in programming. These are people who already have their jobs or businesses going for them, but could use the knowledge and experience combined,” says Ruba.
The placement has an effective technique: after passing the initial interview, potential trainers are invited to one of the ongoing courses and are monitored as to how they interact with the kids. “Since each course has its unique learning goals and material, new trainers are asked to give their ﬁrst course supervised by the company’s experienced instructors,” Jida explains.
Ruba reiterates that the two traits they look for in their trainers are passion for coding and dedication for children. “We’re on the lookout for people who have the mindset to show the kids how cool it is to code and to treat them as the great minds they are,” she says.
So far, the team has delivered over 9 programing courses for more than 150 kids. “Some of the advanced-level course graduates, regardless of the young age, are great candidates to be assistant instructors in the next coding courses,” Jida exclaims.
Where it all started
After contacting the company’s headquarters in Dubai, Jida and Ruba joined efforts and started the new franchise under the business incubator iPARK, a USAID-grantee. The business hub provides its beneﬁciaries with the right entrepreneurial tools they need to ﬂourish in no time.
“The ecosystem in Jordan and speciﬁcally within iPARK is very convenient and helpful. Our debut had been very smooth: not only are we among a few incubated by the technology hub, the King Hussein Business Park is a great place to work,” says Ruba.
Jida agrees with her friend; “the legal services and support we receive are keeping us on the right track of progress.” The challenge of ambition
From looking for more funding opportunities to getting the right people to commit, the two female professionals know that with every success comes a greater responsibility: the Coding Circle is aiming to become the foremost institution for programming instructing in the Middle East.
SUCCESS STORY: Jordanian App Modernizing Education
Of the many roles teachers play in their classes, management can be the most challenging. Keeping track of your students’ progress and maintaining effective communication with them is key to be an effective teacher.
For Nidal Khalifa, founder of the Jordanian start-up EDaura, this knowledge has been close to home. His family have been making whiteboards and traditional education tools for generations. Nidal however wanted to take this important work and keep it relevant to students and educators of tomorrow. “From manufacturing whiteboards to designing electronic ones, we realized the world of education is ever-changing, and no matter your role, you have to keep up.”
“I find it interesting that humans live to see at least two generations (their children and their children’s children). I think the reason behind this is that we are designed to pass on our experience and knowledge to the future generation. I wanted to help in this process and so I’m investing my time and efforts in educational reform through technology”
This reform is taking shape in the form of EDaura, an online educational platform that connects teachers with their students virtually, beyond the classroom. The platform also offers tools that measure skills rather than grades which will improve curriculum design, and helps educators conduct modern educational methodologies, and most importantly focuses education on learning rather than testing. The start-up was able to grow through entrepreneurial, legal, and advisory services through iPark, a business incubator located across Jordan, supported by USAID.
Nidal Khalifa (far right) created EDaura, an application that allows students to access and engage with learning re-sources from any browser or smartphone.
This support was critical for Nidal. “You have access to all sorts of activities, events, as-sets, and connections through iPARK” Nidal said. “This helped EDaura scale.” EDaura’s growth has been phenomenal with users located across the globe. “We signed important deals with organizations focused on educational reform and we also have private schools using EDaura. The free app version for teachers and students is being used in 87 countries across the world!”
Many teachers prefer popular social media platforms over rigid educational tools to communicate with their students, but they lack privacy. With EDaura both teacher and student privacy is assured, but more importantly its easy and enjoyable to use. Nidal explains, “Students repeat one sentence ‘It is very easy to use’. This is important. This means more engagement on the platform. More engagement means more access to learning thus better learning.”
When asked if he sees reform taking place Nidal answers, “We all want to make positive change one way or another. With our generational way of thinking, it will take time, but we’re on the right track.” For the future Nidal plans to keep improving the app and help contribute to Jordan’s economy. Nidal Said, “Successful startups contribute positively to the economy by increasing employment rates and the nation’s GDP. High rate of successful starts in any economy attracts global investments. We all want to make a positive change one way or another. This is my small contribution. ”.