Putting Egyptian Youth on a Path to Entrepreneurship
Participants in the Youth Entrepreneurship Program gather for a group photo.

Forty young Egyptians are their way to realizing their dreams of entrepreneurship thanks to a continuing partnership between AMIDEAST and Citi Foundation. Since March, the 26 men and 14 women in the new Youth Entrepreneurship Program (YEP) have been receiving training and other support that will help them develop and implement their business ideas — and thereby contribute to Egypt’s economic development.

Entrepreneurship is tapping a reserve of energy among young Egyptians. In fact, close to 350 applicants between the ages of 18 and 30 met the minimum requirements for joining the program: having between two and five partners with a business idea or an established business still in its primary stage, and having a business concept that focuses on Egypt’s development in a variety of areas, including education, agriculture, health, and transportation.

The 40 finalists have between them 19 businesses, offering a range of useful products and services. Online platforms are popular: Marj3 showcases region-wide scholarships opportunities; Jidar connects property renovators with wall artists seeking to transform work spaces into innovative and colorful environments; Bookabikia facilitates book exchanges; Volunteero lists opportunities for volunteering; and Enbarter allows users to barter their services. Meanwhile, Happiana is focused on product development that integrates portable solar chargers and every day products to achieve cleaner energy.

Early Success

Yet another venture — Mazboot — has already achieved notable success. Last November, on World Diabetes Day 2016, it launched the first Arabic mobile application for helping diabetic patients self-manage their disease. In April, after joining the program, Mazboot released the second android version. In the same month, cofounder Sara Adel travelled to Casablanca to pitch the business at the grand finale of the WeMENA Competition as one of 30 finalists out of a competitive pool of 200 women. Mazboot also placed second in the recent Google and MCIT Mobile Application Launchpad MAL Program, winning $10,000.

Two-Year Program

The two-year YEP began in September 2016. Selection of participants was completed and a six-month series of workshops commenced towards the end of March 2017. The workshops were designed to enable the young entrepreneurs to master technical skills crucial for business success, as well as gain self-development skills such as self-awareness, communication, leadership, and collaboration.

Already, says participant Sayed Alaa Bassiouny of Bookabikia, “we have gained a lot from this program. It has changed our ideas [for a] business model and improved the way we function as a team … The life coaches are amazing.”

During the coming 10 months, Sayed and the other fledgling business owners can look forward to an incubation phase during which they will benefit from mentorship and consultations over legal and financial issues and motivational talks by leading entrepreneurs in the region.

Because entrepreneurially minded youth represent an enormous potential for the Egyptian economy, the program requires the participants to “pay it forward.” Working in pairs, participants will design a two-day entrepreneurship workshop that each pair will deliver to 30 interested youth, thereby inspiring some 600 youths to consider entrepreneurship as a path to their future.