RiseUp Summit 2019, MENA’s leading entrepreneurship event, held from 5 to 7 December, organised its second day activities at the American University in Cairo (AUC) New Cairo Campus, with a focus on the tech entrepreneurship scene in MENA and the importance of corporate innovation and an internal entrepreneurial mindset.
The day hosted speakers from media service provider Spotify, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA) and Intel. Founder of Emotional Particle Mona Hamdy, cofounder and CEO of Eventtus Mai Medhat, and Cofounder of Womena Elissa Freiha were among the most prominent women providing their take on the entrepreneurship and tech sectors.
On the second day, a report by the Atlantic Council showed that there are around 90 million internet users in the Middle East and North Africa, accounting for 40.2 percent of the region's population, and the number is steadily growing.
While some are worried that technology will take over certain jobs in the future, the advancement of technology gives birth to a multitude of new jobs, which is why having savvy developers is essential. In the entrepreneurship world, technology has become an enabler and having a solid developer onboard is essential to any startup’s growth, according to the report.
“Developers are among the architects of the future. They build the tools and services that improve our lives and therefore it becomes crucial to underline the importance of developers in today’s global economy. With our initiatives such as ‘Developer Circles from Facebook’, a programme designed to create locally organised communities for developers, we’re empowering tech innovators everywhere, supporting them at every stage of their journey towards realising their goals -- whether they’re early on their developer journey or they’re building a startup”, Facebook’s Product Partnerships Programme Manager Walid El-Amin said.
Global Innovation Director at Nestlé Gerardo Mazzeo talked about the importance of corporate innovation, announcing that Nestlé is launching a new project in Egypt, looking for a tech partner that can develop a tool to complement its existing automated sales platform which will provide optimised routes for its sales representatives that can take into account live-feed traffic and predicted traffic for rush hours, school times and so on. Interested startups can apply at henri.nestle.com/live-projects.
“Many startups are leading trends and disrupting the food and beverages industry. Major food companies are now increasingly looking to innovate in different ways by collaborating with and investing in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups,” Mazzeo said, adding that Egypt is the fastest growing ecosystem in MENA, with incubators on the rise, the government investing in resources, and boot camps, and events making connecting easier.”
Speaking on the MENA ecosystem in general, Hassan Fayed, acting head of innovation at the Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority (DAFZA), explained that "in the region many things need to be tailored to the local context, unlike in other countries. One of the key factors still missing from the ecosystem and the entry of which can be crucial is family businesses. The second and third generations of young people family business owners have seen the startup ecosystems abroad and are more aware that if they do not find a way to disrupt themselves, they themselves will get disrupted."
During the summit, MINT by EG Bank announced its Startup Account, tailored to suit young companies’ banking needs. Its benefits include no fees on the account, a competitive interest rate, and the convenient transfer of payroll online.
Additionally, Egyptian startup “Your Parts”, an online marketplace for purchasing car parts, announced some of its newest features, such as pickup points for ordered spare parts, the listing of truck parts, and a partnership with Mobil.
On its second day, RiseUp Summit hosted the first day of the African App Launchpad Cup in partnership with the Information Technology Industry Development Agency (ITIDA), for which winners will be announced on Saturday. The two-day event saw 15 Egyptian and 13 African startups competing to present the best gaming or app development project for a chance to win up to $60,000.
For the first time this year, RiseUp Summit is featuring an in-summit hackathon powered by Dubai Commercity in which 160 developers will gather at the venue to share their innovative ideas for e-commerce digital inclusion and compete for prizes totalling $15,000. The Dubai Commercity Hackathon will focus on promoting e-commerce accessibility in underpenetrated areas, with developers working on addressing digital awareness and solving delivery and internet access challenges.
RiseUp Summit 2019 is hosting four main stages: Tech, Capital, Creative and Growth. The seven tracks that the content focuses on are Creative Culture, Creative Economies, Smart Capital, Growth Hacks, Emerging Tech, FinTech and Tech 4 Humans. The summit will be followed by the regional Pitch by the Pyramids competition, in which 15 startups from MENA will pitch for various prizes.
Panel discussion on 1st day of summit (Photo: Mohamed Mounir)