Covid-19 crisis gives push to Egypt’s start-ups to grow, expand: RiseUp

Doaa A.Moneim , Sunday 16 Aug 2020

RiseUp’s latest summit took place online, highlighting the challenges and opportunities of adapting to the new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic


The RiseUp Summit concluded its 2020 round Saturday under the banner of “Got Grit?” 

RiseUp from Home (RFH) lasted for three days and included 2,000 attendees spanning 30 nationalities, 269 startups, 22 workshops, 47 investors, and 105 speakers. The virtual event explored topics relating to building entrepreneurial resilience through 100+ keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and other virtual features.
Co-founder and CEO of RiseUp Abdelhameed Sharara said the virtual edition of the summit was testament to the innovation that emerges out of challenging circumstances, adding that Covid-19 has tested all businesses.
“In our virtual Startup Expo, exhibitors customised their own virtual booths and interacted directly with potential clients and investors, while Startup Office Hours allowed participants to book consultancy sessions with industry experts, and Networking Circles gave people the opportunity to meet and interact, sharing ideas and resources on how to overcome current business challenges,” Sharara added.
RFH represented a channel that bridged the gap between new stakeholders and the entrepreneurship ecosystem, bringing innovation to traditional markets and offering new investment opportunities to startups, Sharara underlined.
During the virtual event, Etisalat announced its collaboration with RiseUp to support entrepreneurs by sharing decades of knowledge and experience that will help them be more resilient in the face of challenges.
"Etisalat Business is always keen to support the SMEs and startup community in the Egyptian market through focusing on their needs and offering the best products and services that Etisalat can provide. Thus, due to the current global situation, and out of our responsibility to support our local entrepreneurial ecosystem, we’ve collaborated with leading entrepreneurial platform RiseUp. Our collaboration will benefit and support the ecosystem through an ongoing series of webinars that we have already initiated in RiseUp From Home,” SME and SOHO business director at Etisalat Misr Mohamed Zohni said.
The Egyptian communications-platform-as-a-service (CPaaS) provider, and RiseUp’s official communications partner, announced that it will provide WhatsApp Business globally, where companies will connect and engage with two billion customers worldwide, raising the level of their communications and scaling their businesses.
CEQUENS also launched its CEQUENS Chat platform, where businesses can reach and engage with their customers on their preferred messaging app, including SMS, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp Business, Apple Chat, and Google Chat.
In a fireside chat about the future of banking in Egypt, vice chairman of Banque Misr Akef El-Maghraby announced that Banque Misr is developing its infrastructure to launch its first digital bank, which is expected to replace the traditional model, and accordingly is in talks with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE).
The bank is also planning to launch a digital mobile application through which SMEs and start-ups can apply for loans without having to visit a branch, according to Akef.
During the fireside chat, El-Maghraby highlighted the phenomenal growth of the bank’s investment in SMEs, from EGP 2.5 billion four years ago, to EGP 36 billion today, extending their support to startups and SMEs with financial and non-financial services. 
He added that the bank is also providing a dedicated team to support early-stage startups, fostering bright ideas, and scaling them to successful businesses.
CEO of Instabug, Omar Gabr, discussed their standing achievements as a software company that provides bug and crash reporting during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Over the past two years, Instabug revenues have grown by 120 percent. Our software is currently running on 2.5 billion devices, with 25,000 companies using it, helping them fix 700 million bugs in their applications. People staying home has increased traffic on our app by almost 80 percent since March, through applications like Houseparty, Instacart, and 9Gag,” Gabr commented. He added that the company raised $5 million in May from Accel and Y Combinator and it targets becoming Egypt’s first Unicorn.
CEO of Homzmart Mahmoud Ibrahim said that from January to July 2020, Homzmart witnessed a 30x increase in monthly average number of users, and 13x growth in sales.
“I am glad to share that not only were we able to increase our sales, but also enable listed sellers to increase their revenues by an average of 40 percent since they joined the platform to date,” Ibrahim added.
Hatem Sallam, partner/chief growth officer at and Hamdi Tabaa, co-founder and CEO of Abwaab, discussed the development of edutech in the MENA region and how it has supported the academic system during the pandemic.
Salaam highlighted how technology changed the education landscape in Egypt, providing access and convenience for users of different demographics to updated educational content online, which opened a new market that is continuously growing and drawing investment during these unprecedented times.
“Within the past six months, the number of courses attended on our platform doubled, where 42,000 online professional development courses were attended by users, and 500,000 online courses were attended by secondary school students, where they were able to study and prepare for their final exams from the comfort of their home. This was in collaboration with the Ministry of Education in Egypt and sponsored by the National Bank of Egypt,” said Salaam.
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