EghtesadOnline: Iran’s Information and Communications Ministry unveiled its long-awaited Startup Action Plan late Wednesday, which aims to create 68,000 jobs and give a boost to local tech firms.
During an event held at the National Library of Iran in Tehran, IT Organization Chief Amir Nazemi, the man overseeing the plan, told tech and startups enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and businesspeople what they should expect from the initiative.
It envisions incentives for boosting local startups and innovative firms. All startups possessing the prerequisites listed in the plan can make use of these incentives, including a three-year tax holiday.
The first condition is that the startup’s establishment should be under three years. The company’s capital should not surpass a ceiling annually determined by the government. For the current fiscal year (started March 21), the cap is 2.5 billion rials ($17,600). There is also a cap for the company’s annual revenue updated by the government every year. Currently, the cap is 5 billion rials ($35,200), Financial Tribune reported.
These factors are monitored electronically, via Iran’s e-governance infrastructure.
As per the plan, each startup’s co-founders will be exempted from paying insurance fees. The plan also facilitates the activities of co-working space service providers and startup accelerators.
According to Nazemi, setting up startup weekends, organizing intensive training course and introducing co-working space for tech teams nationwide are some of the measures envisaged in the plan.
“The plan aims to cut red tape and ease business for startups, apart from offering tax holidays to the firms,” he said.
“Startup accelerators and venture capital funds are to receive cheap loans from the government to make direct investment in startups.”
The plan also offers incentives for international collaborations and partnerships.
According to Nazemi, a joint R&D plus startup center is to be jointly established by Iran, Russia, Turkey and Azerbaijan to boost technological cooperation.
One of the participants challenged Nazemi by saying, “Startup is a buzzword. Statesmen have used the startups' wave to promote their public profile. What makes this plan any different?”
Nazemi responded, “Transparency. Both the plan and its results are available for public review … Setting up a transparent monitoring mechanism is key to developing the new plan. Everyone will be able to check the results through the website Irannoafarin.ir.”
ICT Minister Mohammad Javad Azari Jahromi told startup CEOs and founders, “You need to stand firm against headwinds and combat economic hardships and gender inequality. And we in the government will try to do our best to create a stable economic environment for you to thrive.”
Jahromi noted that the current plan will cater to the needs of fledgling firms.
For offering further support to established startups and tech firms, the ministry is establishing tech parks around the country titled “Digital Economic Development” centers.
Vice President Es’haq Jahangiri also addressed the gathering.
“Washington can sanction our industries. They can target our income from the energy sector. But they can’t target Iran’s vast human resources. They can’t stop you, the younger generations from contributing to the national economy,” he said.
“Tech firms’ share in the GDP of different countries is growing exponentially. Iran should move fast, if it doesn’t want to be left behind,” he added.
Founders and managers of several startups were also present at the event. During short talks, they outlined their works and the issues that have impeded their business.
One of the speakers was Mohammad Qaempanah, founder of Keshmoon that is known for its eco-friendly measures.
Based in South Khorasan Province, the startup has ventured on linking saffron farmers to consumers. According to the firm's directors, Keshmoon intends to secure a better future for the saffron industry, while establishing a reliable source of income for the farmers.
He said Keshmoon plans to expand its business to EU, but its operations have been hampered by the US-imposed sanctions against Iran.
Tabassom Latifi, founder of MamanPaz (Made by Mama in Persian), a startup that connect homemade food providers with buyers.
Latifi said, “Stagnant laws and regulations, plus the lack of proper training and gender inequality, have impeded women’s growth in Iran. Through MamanPaz, we have tried to empower housewives.”
Milad Monshipour, CEO of ride-hailing firm TAP30, also outlined activities of the firm and claimed that its success has contributed to reversing Iran’s brain drain. He stressed that deregulation is essential for the growth of startups.