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Reconstruction in Iraq

15 April 2019

Reconstruction in Iraq

Angela Kilic-Cave is President of Dari Concepts, a logistics, life support and security company, working primarily on US military contracts in Iraq. What’s the secret to running a successful business in a post-conflict country?

Connecting with Angela by Skype in her compound in Erbil in northern Iraq, you get the impression that nothing much fazes her. Which is just as well, given that she has been steadily growing a business that she co-founded in one of the most fragile places on the planet.

Angela’s company, Dari Concepts, has been operating in Iraq since 2011, supporting the US military with transport and logistics in its humanitarian and peace-building missions, after US fighting troops formally withdrew.

“We could be running up to 20 missions a day”

Angela tells us that 2011/2012 was a busy and fairly dangerous period here:

“Initially we were contracted to recover damaged vehicles for the US military. Post-conflict, we could be running up to 20 missions each day. It was still fairly hostile then and our people regularly came under fire.

“On one occasion, we found ourselves in a compound being attacked by a suicide bomber in a bulldozer. That focuses the mind.”

It’s perhaps not surprising Angela sounds so matter-of-fact about the potential risks, when you learn that she is ex-US military. And her co-founder, Azad, an Iraqi-born US citizen, is ex Special Forces.

Adapting to the changing needs in Iraq

Since those early days, Dari has broadened its business offering into three main areas.

• They provide secure transport for people working on US projects.
• They offer logistics support, planning safe routes and delivering materials to projects.
• They are responsible for the rapid deployment of front-line security for construction projects, installing concrete barriers, erecting fences and securing areas before construction begins.

Angela explains: “Our niche is in projects in vulnerable places. We understand the cultural and physical landscape. We are experts at reconning routes and planning safe passage. We have a highly- vetted, trusted local workforce that enables us to move quickly, and at short notice.

“As ex-US military, I can quickly understand the needs of the project. Azad speaks the language and has a great network of local contacts. It’s a good combination for operating out here.”

Defense Based Act insurance – a key contractual element

From day one to the current day, Defense Based Act (DBA) insurance has been the key contractual requirement.

Mandatory for any company working on US government or military contracts outside America, DBA provides death, disability and accident cover. From a local truck driver to an expat security advisor, it means everyone is properly covered, even in high-risk areas and high-risk activities.

Flexibility in insurance, to match the business

As the business has had to be flexible to meet changing demands, so has the insurance cover.

Jonathan Hutter, from Bellwood Prestbury explains.

“Initially they had to apply for a new DBA policy for every contract. That was a huge amount of paperwork going back and forth, and a lot of administration for Angela and her team. As some of the contracts are short-notice, it also required some pretty agile policy creation our end.

“So we created a more flexible option. Now we have annual cover for specific activities. Secure transport is one. Construction is another. Now Angela can simply call off cover as she needs it. That means she can immediately meet the needs of the contract and get operational more quickly. Be confident her teams are properly protected. And she has more time to bid for new contracts.”

What’s next for Dari Concepts?

Angela is upbeat about the prospect of doing business in Iraq.

“If you know what you’re doing, this is a good place to do business. We’re bidding for bigger and bigger contracts, but we’re never complacent.

“We are careful about our own safety at all times. But things feel more peaceful here and I am optimistic about the future, for our company and the country as a whole.”

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