31 January 2020, Geneva, Switzerland - The United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) Prosperity Division launched today an innovative training programme on ‘Frontier Technologies for Sustainable Development: Unlocking Women’s Entrepreneurship through Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Afghanistan and Iraq’.

The 3-month training programme which was made possible through the support from the Swedish International Development Agency’s (Sida) towards the UNITAR Strategic Framework Fund (SFF) offers a unique opportunity for women from these countries to build their entrepreneurship skills through curated content from world-class institutions such as Stanford University's Center for Professional Development and lectures from leading Artificial Intelligence (AI) experts from the private sector inluding Amada AI Innovation Laboratory Inc., and Fuji Xerox of Japan.

The gender dimension of entrepreneurship and the SDGs is also part of the curriculum.

What is unique about this programme is that the training content and lectures will be contextualized to the local conditions by regional and national experts and practitioners as well as alumna from UNITAR's previous entrepreneurship training activities. Each participant will be assigned to a local coach to help facilitate the learning and peer-review of individual projects and assignments.

The programme aims to empower these women to follow their entrepreneurial aspirations that provide positive social, economic, and environmental impact and contribute to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

During the launching, UNITAR's Executive Director Mr. Nikhil Seth welcomed the participants and thanked them for their keen interest. He also said that "I’m excited about this new UNITAR programme as it offers an exceptional learning experience where you as participants, and the experts and mentors are effectively engaged and challenged to learn, innovate, collaborate, and develop individual peer-reviewed business model that bridges new concepts and ideas to real-world applications and development challenges. Frontier technologies present immense potential for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development as it offers a multitude of opportunities to re-imagine how our economies could serve better social and environmental needs".

Mr. Seth also highlighted that "UNITAR is extremely grateful for Sida’s financial contribution - not only for this programme - but also to various UNITAR initiatives especially in empowering women from diverse backgrounds and geographical locations".

Welcoming remarks by UNITAR's Executive Director Mr. Nikhil Seth

UNITAR's Director for the Division for Prosperity Ms. Mihoko Kumamoto, who is spearheading this new initiative thanked the participants for their keen interest and encouraged everyone to take the most of this training opportunity to empower themselves and contribute to the social and economic development of their countries. Ms Kumamoto also emphasized importance of promoting social entrepreneurship and the contribution of women in building sustainable peace and development across the region.

In addition, Ms Kumamoto thanked UNITAR's partner organizations including the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), the Aga Khan Foundation, Fuji Xerox of Japan, Amada AI Innovation Laboratory Inc., KAPITA Business Hub in Iraq and other partners, experts, and coaches who have supported this initiative.

Over the next 3 months the 35 women from Afghanistan and Iraq who were nominated by local organizations and associations and completed the selection process will have the opportunity to interact with fellow entrepreneurs from different sectors from both countries as well as with the experts, coaches, and the UNITAR support team facilitating this programme.

At the end of the programme each of the participants will have a peer-reviewed business model and start-up pitch deck that will create new opportunities to address development challenges in their country.

Graduation ceremony is planned for mid-April in Kabul and in Baghdad.

Welcoming message by UNITAR's Division for Prosperity Director, Ms. Mihoko Kumamoto

UNITAR is active in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship training programmes and partners with top institutions and experts worldwide to deliver university-level to micro-learning courses. To know more about our upcoming programmes, please visit our entrepreneurship e-learning platform www.greatideas.space.

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