The Global Entrepreneurship Summit 2016, which was officially launched on Wednesday at Stanford University, California, attracted more than 700 business people and young entrepreneurs from all over the world, including Egypt.
In addition to helping provide basic skills such as entrepreneurship development and the presentation of ideas, the summit is a key global effort calling for investment capital, financial management and human resources, community building, sustainable start-ups, and connecting entrepreneurs with investors and leaders of big companies like Instagram, Google, Microsoft and Facebook.
Ahram Online spoke with Ahmed Abbas, a green economy expert and advocate with a passion for renewable energy and one of the Egyptian entrepreneurs participating at the GES 2016.
Abbas started a project under the name Sun City Energy as a green start-up, which he says is working on developing, manufacturing and commercialising innovative, low-cost, mobile solar irrigation pumps.
These new pumps are meant to provide a reliable and feasible alternative to the conventional diesel pumps that millions of farmers use in Egypt and across the globe.
“Our main task is to bring solar energy to the base of the pyramid and tackle the local energy crisis while supporting low-income people,” says Abbas, who is working on his Master’s degree in Sustainable Development at the American University in Cairo.
“The mobile solar pump is our first baby that we have been working on for about one year. At this stage, we have a fully-working prototype that we developed ourselves using the local capabilities and some local components. A number of initial units will be ready to hit the market in four to six weeks for the first time. Small farmers will have a product that can generate income for some of them or [lower] their operating costs of irrigation forever.
“About five million Egyptian farmers own less than one feddan. Most of these farmers use diesel pumps for irrigation. Under new regulation of phasing out subsidies, our product can irrigate one feddan in six to eight hours and can serve up to 10 feddans. There is no operating cost and it is almost maintenance-free.
“We have been investing our own resources so far, in addition to money from prizes we won from a couple of competitions locally and internationally.
“Now, we want to access funding schemes to facilitate farmers’ acquisition of our product. This can be through leasing, mortgage, soft loans or any other scheme. The clean technology will save millions in subsidised diesel for the government, save thousands of tonnes of carbon emissions and reduce the costs of irrigation.
“We desperately hope to get support from the government, the Ministry of Agriculture, agriculture banks and other relevant institutions.
“We launched and registered the start-up with my own money, then we won the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Programme prize in Nigeria, which we used to develop the prototype.
“I recently won first place in the Total Start-up Competition in Egypt and was selected [for having] one of the best three start-ups in Africa.
“We have established communication with local and international suppliers of our very specific products and are currently working on developing our own technology in solar water pumping for small-scale use.
“On another level, developing our own technology – a critical move to overcome the limitations of existing technologies – requires high expenses that we are not able to cover at this stage. We look forward to securing grants to support our research and development as well as localise the technology.”
This year's event also focuses on supporting and promoting the role of women in business. Karen Quintos, senior vice president and chief marketing officer for the company Dell, said that women today face many difficulties in the process of starting a business; especially with investment funds usually poured into priority-projects by businessmen.
GES 2016 brings together entrepreneurs and investors from across the world for dynamic, outcome-oriented sessions; mentoring; and opportunities to showcase their work. It has become a preeminent annual gathering that provides emerging entrepreneurs with exceptional networking, insight and investment opportunities.