Graduate Serves up Coffee From Van and Beats Unemployment

There’s no need to go to the cafe when the cafe can come to you. That’s the philosophy behind Karrar Alaa’s mobile business venture. He parks up in Basra’s city centre or customers summon him via phone or social media to bring them drinks.

Alaa got the idea from social media.

“I saw it and I loved this project, and I wanted to implement it here, it is in high demand by the people and they encourage me very nicely,” he says.

This entreprenurial spirit is the only way he has been able to earn money since graduating from university. According to a study done by the planning committee of Basra governorate in 2014, more than 48 percent of graduate students cannot get a government job, and there are over 28,000 unemployed graduates in the city.

Alaa preparing a drink from his mobile coffee.
Alaa preparing a drink from his mobile coffee shop on Aug. 24, 2018. (AP/Screenshot)

“Many Iraqis, especially the young people, study hard and graduate but then can’t get a job, and Karrar is one of them,” says one customer.

“But he used his brain and found this idea, and he knew it’s a very good idea.”

On Call

Alaa advertises this business on social media and says it is already a success. He works late into the night delivering drink orders. Tonight, he’s had a request from another part of Basra so he hops into the van and heads off the meet the customer.

Alaa greets Murtadha Abdulhussein and sets about making a choco milk drink. Abdulhussein appreciates the convenience of the service.

“Wherever we meet or sit, we don’t have to think about anything, we just call Karrar and he will bring the drinks that we have ordered,” he says.

Karrar Alla receives an order for coffee.
Karrar Alla receives an order for coffee on Aug. 24, 2018. (AP/Screenshot)

Alaa has found a niche to get himself out of unemployment. But not everyone has a business brain like his. USAID, the US government’s development agency, says that 60 percent of Iraq’s population is under the age of 25, making Iraq a very young country.

More than 400,000 young men are entering the labor market each year, half of them graduates.

Instability, corruption, and the recent fight against ISIS has delayed or cancelled many of government’s plans and investment projects to reduce unemployment, culminating in a wave of recent protests across southern Iraq, especially in Basra.

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