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Online Business in Iran: Instagram the Most Popular Money Making Platform

April 13, 2022

The advent of the Internet has been one of the profound communications revolutions in the world: so much so that data has become one’s most important asset, and the world is, at the same time, rapidly moving towards blockchain technology, digital currencies, and telecommuting. 

These technological advancements, which have permeated Iranian society, have turned online commerce into one of the few thriving sectors in Iran’s crisis-ridden economy. In the first 10 months of 2019, the number of businesses that obtained "E-Namad" – a top symbol of e-business credibility issued by the Ministry of Industry, Mines, and Trade – was about 10,000. The next year, this number increased by 190%, reaching about 28,000. This boom happened while the Iranian economy in 2020 contracted by 4.6% partly as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, there are no surveys, neither qualitative nor quantitative, about Iran’s growing online businesses. Therefore, Iran Open Data has recently conducted a poll, asking Iranians about their experience dealing with these businesses. These results show a glimpse of the state of Internet business in Iranian society.

A third of respondents said that they used the Internet to make money. 60% said that they moved their business online, partly or entirely, in the past two years. For them, Instagram is the most used platform to earn money on the internet. On average, each of the participants earned 2,000,000 toman ($475) per month from their internet businesses.

This poll was conducted from November 5, 2021, to January 13, 2022, during which 789 responses were recorded. 93% of pollees lived in urban areas, with the majority of them living in Tehran. The lowest number of participants lived in Kohgiluyeh, Boyer-Ahmad, and Golestan provinces. The average age of all respondents was 34, while. 67% of them identified as male, 31% female, and 2% as “other”. 

The following report and graphs provide a general overview of the poll’s results. 

Commercial Presence on the Internet

  • A-third of respondents said that they use cyberspace to earn money; two-thirds stated that they did not.
  • About 14% of the second group, indicate that one or more of their family members has an online business. 
  • Overall, 47% of participants indicated that they, or one of their family members, runs an online business.
 

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History of Commercial Presence on the Internet

  • 60% of respondents said they have started an online business in the past 2 years.
  • 26% of them started their business in the past one to two years. 
  • Only 5% of participants owned a profitable online business for more than 10 years. 
 

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Utilized Platforms

  • Instagram is the most used platform for online businesses. Namely, 27% of internet business owners use Instagram to make money.
  • Ranked next are websites such as Divar and Digikala, Telegram, WhatsApp messengers, and digital currency platforms. 
 

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  • Women mostly use Instagram, while men use digital currency platforms, websites, and Telegram.
 

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Other Income

  • Half of the respondents stated that they do not have any other source of income, while the other half stated that they have a secondary source of income. 


Expense and Income of Internet Businesses

  • Internet business owners stated that they spent, on average, about 2.5 million toman ($600) per month on their business. 
  • The monthly income of these business owners, on average, was about 4.5 million toman ($1,100). 
  • The above statements indicate that internet business owners in Iran have a monthly average income of about 2 million toman ($480). 
  • Men earn about three times as much, from their businesses, as women.
  • Interestingly, according to the responses of the participants of this poll, the villagers' online businesses earn twice as much as the urbanites. 
 

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