Starting with the dotcom opportunities in the late nineties and early 2000s, young people have become more and more excited about the idea of making it on their own, and dismissing the corporate or publicsector-life. This was reinforced by Obama’s Cairo speech about creating a fund for the region’s startups in 2010. Add this to the general, more utopian sentiment after the 2011 Revolution, and the equation of entrepreneurship in Egypt is filled with energy, passion and potential.

But unless an entrepreneur already has access to capital, a solid network and early customers, it is hard to make it on his own – he needs his local support system.

The local scene started with some individuals who had a vision and saw an opportunity in investing in early-stage Egyptian entrepreneurs and startups, such as Hossam Allam, Ahmed El Alfi, Dina ElMofty, Neveen ElTahri, AbdelRahman Magdy etc. They formed institutions like Cairo Angels, Flat6Labs, Injaz, 138 Pyramids, and Egypreneur whose role it was to provide every kind of support to those people trying to make it on their own. Then, other organizations and people became interested in being part of the movement – MC Egypt, Startup Weekend, Google, Microsoft etc. However, the ecosystem was still not robust.

That is when the key ecosystem stakeholders started working together and the first RiseUp Summit came to life, as the first and largest crowdsourced entrepreneurship event in Egypt. New entities started to arise – Juice Labs, The GrEEK Campus, Qafeer Labs, Mostaqqel etc. Finally, the momentum was there! International key-players – such as enpact and Hivos – and investors started looking at Egypt as an entrepreneurship hub in the region, with enormous potential.

So why worry about building an ecosystem and networks in the first place? Because a robust and collaborative ecosystem acts as an accelerator for startups, and increases their chance for survival and growth. When people with the same interests and vision but different applications come together, they form partnerships, make investments, create business opportunities, exchange experiences, and thus, the entrepreneurial culture will flourish.

And this is exactly what RiseUp is trying to do: grasping that momentum to glue the ecosystem together and create a just and productive society, while being inclusive, neutral and transparent.

by RiseUp Egypt

Facts about Egypt

  • #1 country funders in the Arab World are looking at (49%)
  • 33% of funders are planning to expand into Egypt in 1 – 2 years
  • In 2012, 23 investments took place
  • 15% of funded companies want to open new offices in Egypt
  • Median funding range: $1,000 and $49,000
  • 22% of companies got follow-up funding.

Source: Wamda Research Lab, Enhancing Access, October 2014