The StartEgypt Forum kicked off on Wednesday on the Greek Campus at the American University in Cairo with the participation of more than 45 Egyptian new startups and innovations.
StartEgypt is an Egyptian initiative funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), supported by the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which is a member of the World Bank Group, and powered by Flat6Labs.
Speaking to Ahram Online, programme director at StartEgypt Hassan Mansi said that the initiative is incubating and accelerating new Egyptian startups and entrepreneurship ideas funded with £2 million over three years, preparing them to start their work and establish their companies.
He added that the initiative involves eight sectors: health, renewable energy, agriculture, waste recycling, financial inclusion, transport, services for vulnerable communities, and the environment. The initiative involves incubating startup ideas that create job opportunities in the Egyptian market.
“The whole programme is provided in Arabic, and all its content is developed here in Egypt. We already have three business incubators in Cairo, Alex, and Assiut. We have incubated about 72 startups over the past two years,” Mansi added.
He asserted that Egypt’s government is providing notable incentives for entrepreneurs and new innovations, especially Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly, who supervises the investment portfolio, and the ministries of international cooperation and sports and youth, as well as the Central Bank of Egypt’s 5 percent initiative to offer funds to SMEs.
However, Mansi said, there are a number of challenges that entrepreneurs face in Egypt, particularly poor funding and an absence of channels between entrepreneurs and investors, whether domestic or foreign.
He added that Egypt has significant potential as the doorway to Africa, a continent that has a number of issues and problems that can be solved with new startups that address serious cases and problems.
On the other hand, founder and CEO of Chitosan Egypt, a startup that specialises in introducing products manufactured with materials extracted from shrimp skins, said that that there are 10 core challenges that startups in Egypt faces, especially poor funding, market needs, the absence of real feasibility studies, and ignoring customers.
He added that the floatation of the Egyptian pound severely harmed the entrepreneurship environment in Egypt over the past three years, but, actually, Chitosan has made use of it because it offered the required budget for the company because of the US dollar price increase.
Meanwhile, Mostafa Husain, a digital marketing instructor accredited by Google, says that the digital market has become a key pillar of success for startups, and that the number of people connected to the internet globally has increased to 4 billion in 2019, up from 2 billion.
Husain said that retail shopping through the internet was estimated at $69 billion in 2017, and that internet users in Egypt have reached 50.7 million, which is the largest number in the Arab region.