The African Development Bank’s Innovation & Entrepreneurship Lab and the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs have released a report assessing the state of entrepreneurship in Egypt.
Dr Ayman Ismail, a professor at the American University in Cairo, presented findings and recommendations of Entrepreneurship in Egypt: an ecosystem overview to participants from a number of countries during a virtual event held in Cairo.
Ismail produced the report, which updates an earlier version to provide a current mapping of the main stakeholders in the ecosystem across four key areas:
- entrepreneurial awareness programs
- incubation and acceleration
- access to finance
- entrepreneurship training and education
Egypt is rapidly emerging as a hub for startup innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, driven by a combination of government support, entrepreneurial spirit, and a large and increasingly tech-savvy population. The country has a thriving community of startups and investors, with a range of innovative products and services emerging across a range of sectors. With a growing number of initiatives aimed at supporting startups, combined with a highly educated and tech-savvy workforce, Egypt is poised for significant growth in the startup sector in the coming years.
The report documents the evolution of Egypt’s start-up ecosystem amid strong entrepreneurial sentiment, particularly among the youth. Among its highlights are that interest and awareness about entrepreneurship have remained consistently high over the past five years; a survey undertaken by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor found that intention to launch an entrepreneurial venture is more than two times higher than the global average in Egypt than in other countries.
Dr Ismail said: “We are witnessing leapfrog developments in the entrepreneurship sector in Egypt. Start-ups are well-perceived in Egypt and many youth are interested in being part of the ecosystem; the government is committed to support the ecosystem; there is a multitude of incubation and acceleration programs, and investors are showing increasing interest in these businesses. However, there is still room to improve and fill in the gaps that exist. This report provides an overview of the ecosystem and how it can be improved.”
Dr. Valérie Liechti, Head of Office for International Cooperation in the Embassy of Switzerland to Egypt said: “We are pleased to see the report highlighting the opportunity to reap the entrepreneurial energy in the country, in order to participate in regional and global value chains, to create employment, and to drive the economy forward. Yet, the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt faces many challenges. This is why Switzerland is investing in capacity building, operational reach and sustainability of enterprise support organizations in Egypt and across Africa, to better support start-ups on their growth journey.”
In recent years, Egypt’s start-up sector has blossomed, disrupting a number of sub-sectors including public transport, alternative and renewable energy, agribusiness, and e-commerce. In 2021 alone, Egyptian start-ups raised $ 491M.
Abdourahmane Diaw, the African Development Bank’s Officer in Charge for North Africa re-affirmed the institution’s support for job creation through entrepreneurship. “The Bank has been actively supporting micro, small and medium enterprises in Egypt for the past two decades.”
“Through the Bank’s on-going entrepreneurship support projects, including Tanmia wa Tatweer and the Enhancement of the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem, we are witnessing the evolution of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. Egyptian start-ups are solving societal challenges, creating jobs, mobilizing investments, and placing Egypt on the global map for entrepreneurship development.”
Professor Ismail also provided recommendations to further bolster the country’s start-up environment, such as improving access to finance, in particular pre-seed and seed funding, for new ventures; and inclusion of courses on entrepreneurship in higher education curricula.
The report captures details of how some private universities are already starting to introduce entrepreneurship education, such as The American University in Cairo (AUC), The German University in Cairo (GUC), and The British University in Egypt (BUE), Entrepreneurship is also being introduced as a formal subject within the technical and vocational education (TVET) and more activities are taking place in the informal training and education side.
Several massive open online courses (MOOCs) are becoming popular such as edraak and Nafham; Injaz Egypt company program has benefited more than 600,000 students in schools and universities.
While many initiatives require scaling and are challenged to provide long-term sustainability, Dr Ismail is confident that there is a growing ecosystem for entrepreneurship in Egypt.
Dr Ismail is the Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship and Associate Professor at American University in Cairo School of Business.
Click here to read the full report.