Nature always wins, not only in the world of ecology, but it also seems to eventually win in the world of people and their psyche.
Covid19 and the new emerging Remote Work movement might have offered us one thing, moving away from “Artificial Lifestyle” into a “Natural Lifestyle” and finding beauty in this transition, who would be a better expert at that other than someone who had “beauty” as a lifelong passion and career?
Beautician Reham Gehad had been my first guest in a series of interviews about Remote Work out of the beautiful coastal city of Dahab in Egypt’s magical Sinai Penninsula.
Face-to-face and – if we may say – “hand-to-face” daily with people seeking change, choosing the natural way is a big testimony of our new world.
Reham is an internationally trained beautician and cosmetics expert with a successful track record, which includes running a growing beauty shop and doing makeup for TV Shows like “Torab El Mass” and more, she has many opportunities in Cairo, but her journey brought her here, to Dahab.
Reham’s decision to transition into Remote Work at the coastal city of Dahab had been inspired by something deeper than the Covid19 crisis, she already moved to Dahab a few months before Covid19 surfaces, her decision was only solidified with the following shutdown.
There is much controversy around the “beauty and make-up” industry, classic arguments of “before/after” photos where someone is artificially transitioned into a new self, and accusations of manipulation and deception are up-in-the-air.
Reham revolted against that as she also revolts against the crowded, noisy, and competitive lifestyle the city offered.
Reham’s decision to settle in Dahab was part of a larger evolution into natural beauty and lifestyle. Quiet, peaceful, worry-free, or what local Bedouins here in Dahab call “Wala Haga” translated as “No worry”.
Once you express a glimpse of worry and/or concern around one of Dahab’s Bedouins, they often respond by repeating the word and adding the expression of “Wala Haga” by the end of the sentence. The response to a statement like: “I was thinking we might need to do such and such.” would be”such and such, Wala Haga.”
Over the years, Reham developed a preference for natural beauty products other than chemically produced ones, her videos transitioned from using branded out of the shelf products into “Home Made” beauty products, she says the change to natural was initiated as of her own need to leave the world of “artificial beauty”, “image” and “social status” into a world of “natural beauty”.
“We are born complete with natural beauty, it takes effort to accept our uniqueness, learning how to resort to nature to complement our beauty other than resort to chemicals to hide behind an artificial face is what we all should aim at.”
When we first met in Dahab when I still had the remains of the city’s rushing lifestyle, Reham recommended for me to read “The Power of Now by Eckard Tolle”, as an Audible user, I secured the audiobook, by the next time we met and discussed the book, I offered her a listen to the audio version, to funnily discover that I had the playback speed adjusted to 1.8X normal speed, the author’s voice was so soft and I wanted to accelerate the chi-chat and get into the core content, she laughed at the fact that the whole idea from the book is about “Slowing Down” and living in the moment.
“In the Flow Living” among a community of likeminded people seemed to be the reason why Reham has gravitated towards Dahab. When she decided to transition into remote work, mentioning that her Egyptian passport allows her living in other places other than “Cairo” which she seemed to be breaking up with, Reham tried El Gouna, a beautiful coastal city as well, though presenting an opportunity for more of a lifestyle of luxury.
Reham’s first trip to Dahab did not go well, she was not impressed as she finds discomfort in the place she has chosen to stay and lack of organization, it took more experience to explore more of the quieter side of town at Assala to find the peace, tranquility, and connectedness to nature she was aiming at.
When connected to nature, people desire less, they need less and lose the tendency to compare with others. Closing her Beauty Salon in Cairo, Reham is a now content creator with a network of fans that makes it easy for her to get and keep sponsored shows and uses her fine arts background in pursuing design and artwork that she either sells or offers it as a service to her growing clientele.
Overlooking the beautiful mountain-hugged shores of the coastal city of Dahab, leaning into the relaxing and reflective time of the sunset, I stretched my Yoga Mat for the first use with the intention of diving into the sides of me that had been least explored, a business guy with one of these indifferent stoic faces, I told my new friends in Dahab that no one is going to believe them if they say Abdo was here doing Yoga with us.
Bugged by Car horns, aggressive expressions, as she is stuck in a Cairo traffic in the famous Mohandessin’s Ahmed Abdel Aziz Street, Dr. Claudia Gross, a German Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Conflict reflected on the number of signs, commands, and behaviors “evoking the pictures of what you do not want“, as she described it.
DO NOT BE LATE … DO NOT … DO NOT … DO NOT
I just completed two books that gave me the push to try out my first Yoga experience, The Power of Now for Eckhard Tolle and Letting Go for David R. Hawkins MD. Ph.D. There is something in common with the Yoga experience and the 2 books, soft-spoken language.
I had been a close follower of the speakGreen movement, initiated by Dr. Claudia, promoting the idea of choosing our words to build and create a better world. A good example from her TEDx talk about the power of words comes from an experiment where two groups of people at the same age and physical ability were asked to read a paragraph, one of which was neutral and the other had an elderly stereotype, it was found out that as a result, the group who read the paragraph with an elderly stereotype in average have taken more time walking to the elevator, as of just being exposed to the language.
Dr. Claudia has recently gathered all the work she has been doing under the speakGreen movement into a 50,000 words book labeled “speakGreen: words create worlds“, the book project attracted over 150 pre-orders on Publishizer platform.
I had the chance to interview Dr. Claudia for the book project and my yoga experience and observation on the use of language brought me back to the interview note. Though, trying to internalize this language shift as a business person had been a bit challenging, I could count at least two reasons for that
“Softness does not get a vote.”
Uttered the narrator in a deep masculine voice, the morning after my first Yoga experience, as I start my day with Stoic Affirmation tracks, that reminds the listener of the facts of life and how strong and steadfast you have to voluntarily face the demands of life, stand your ground, get over hard times and not only accept everything that happens to you but also learn to love your destiny no matter what it looks like.
This strong, intense, masculine language has become part of my identity not only to interface with the world when necessary but to endure the internal journey needed to go through life productively. It is quite unsettling to imagine having to eliminate the language of stoicism necessary for the voluntary pursuit and endurance of natural life challenges. A trend that’s observable in societies where the call has gone into the elimination of masculine language and sometimes the explicit effeminization of men.
The use of language for manipulation
I was daunted by the memories where the call for “softness” has been used for deception and manipulation. The biggest healing journey I had to pursue was about the use of “co-creation” and “collaboration” for explicit assassination and violation of rights. Imagine pursuing an objective in a society based on a certain dynamic and expectations, then being convinced to shift this dynamic and “drop your guard”, only to discover that the call for softness was done to expose you to circumstances necessary to advance certain interests that wouldn’t have happened otherwise without “dropping your guard”.
The experience of this form of linguistic manipulation heightens the sensitivity of the use of language in society and make it a responsibility of communicators to be precise, accurate, and straightforward. An introduction of a “new” or “adjusted” language to explain the same terms should be done in the light, discussed, and agreed upon by parties in society, otherwise, the language itself becomes an instrument of manipulation in the hands of those who devise it.
I must agree that in the 21st century, maintaining a war-inspired business language is a lot “outdated” and there could be no harm in reviewing some of the words we use in a business context within our organizations, the speakGreen movement, and the upcoming book are a positive trigger in that direction of initiating a dialogue around the world we want to live in and deriving from that the words we want to be using.
Business was good for Hany Sadekk, 42, who lives in the coastal city of ElGouna, exercising his life-long passion for Fishing and the 8 years during which he competed professionally for fishing titles to snap the Top spots for Egypt’s top fisherman a few times already.
And you know what goes well with making a great sea catch? Yes, eating it or in Hany’s case, cooking it, and serving it. It was a natural evolution for Hany to go into the restaurant business. He enjoyed 20 years of experience in F&B (Food & Beverage) and for the last 7 years, he ran his own restaurants in mostly tourism/coastal destinations.
The CoronaVirus (COVID19) had been unkind to all our fellow Egypreneur(s), but it had been especially brutal with the restaurant business as one of the greatly affected industries. Just like everyone else, Hany had to close down his restaurants and the future was looming for him and the 40 staff members he has.
Hany has taken 5 years to assemble his team and it was an emotional turmoil to consider letting go but the business was brought into a total halt.
The role of solid business mentor shows up at times like these, during one of their sessions Hani W. Naguib, Sadekk’s mentor/advisor shared with him a piece of golden advice that came to re-shape the way he has seen what’s happening and the best way to respond.
“Focus on the value proposition other than the product” Hani W. Naguib, Startup Mentor
Just like the word “Entrepreneur”, Sous Vide is a French word that means “under vacuum” a cooking technique that allows cooking at a uniform temperature by sealing food in a bag and submerging it in a water bath. Thought to be one of the healthiest – and most delicious – cooking technique as ou maintain all the goodies inside the bag.
Hany had been offering Sous Vide options in his restaurants for 2 years and it came as the top value proposition to bring to the market at the time of COVID19, he decided to focus on introducing this technique and own its market in Egypt, that’s where Sous Vide Egypt came from.
It took Hany almost a month to prepare for his new venture with the food components and in just 2 days he was able to launch an E-Commerce store offering 3 seafood options and shipping to both Cairo and ElGouna. Three days old E-commerce store – at the time of writing this – have successfully sent out its second shipment to Cairo out of ElGouna’s kitchen.
Sous Vide had been an undisclosed option in many high-end restaurants for their top clients. Now, Hany thinks its time to take the technique to the consumer through its E-Commerce store and partnership with specialized distribution channels focused on healthy options. It takes 12 minutes to get an off-the-shelf frozen Sous Vide meal ready and considering its health benefits, it could be a good option for many Egyptian families.
For Hany’s 40-strong team, there is a renewed hope to go through the crisis with minimal losses, there are many opportunities and challenges to adapting to the new e-commerce and delivery model and as it is for the entrepreneurs, it’ll be the same for the workers to adapt to the business.
COVID19 could be a terminal crisis for many businesses, but as Marcus Aurelius says its mindset not external events is what you have control over. If you look around you, you will find the resources, the know-how and the support to “take back the driver seat” and proactively respond to events, that’s the hope for entrepreneurs and for the Egyptian economy at large.
That’s why Cooks are panicking while Chefs are rolling their sleeves getting down to their kitchen labs.
“I created this business in the first place and I will just have to recreate it with the tools and ingredients that I can get my hands on now.”
That’s what chefs are telling themselves now.
Who knows? Maybe the new recipe will be more tasty and popular than the previous one?
I’m a people’s person as they call them and I don’t let a Personality Assessment test go by without pursuing it.
On a recent test called “The Big Five Aspects Scale”, I scored 96/100 for Openness to Experience and also scored 12/100 in Orderliness.
Needless to say, the description of the Orderliness score was quite insulting. But there was something interesting, about the test and its meaning.
There is no right or wrong answer.
We are made to fulfill different functions and to complement each other’s competences.
I can see a pattern emerging from the many conversations I’m having with business owners, executives, and their teams during this crisis.
Where there had been no systems in place, sometimes projects are faced with a lot of resistance and the Chefs are often not given the space to innovate.
If you own a restaurant, do you have to be the best chef in town? You actually do not. If you can spot the best chefs and give them the space to innovate.
Remember that now is the time for this.
Acknowledge what you are good and not good at
Bring forth complementary skillsets and empower the chefs
Demonstrate openness in pursuing innovative ideas
Accept failure as part of the journey towards a new secret receipt
In my most recent email, I highlighted that 40% of businesses are projected to fail due to the COVID-19 Crisis. And that Innovation (And Strategy Redesign) should be one of 5 main pillars to your response to COVID19.
Since then I have seen fabulous stories of entrepreneurs and executives who came up with innovations to keep their business running during the Crisis.
COVID-19 is definitely an unprecedented crisis for many young CEOs and executive leaders in Egypt, figuring out the best way to respond could be a challenge, that’s why I connected with Omnia Samra, Crisis Comms Expert to talk about what Entrepreneurs and Executive Leaders in Egypt should focus on while responding to the crisis.
Step #1: Visibility
Good examples of communication with your employees
Step #2: Speed
Start communicating quickly and own the platform
Step #3: Simplicity
Maintain simplicity in your communications
Step #4: Consistency
Communicate frequently and often
Step #5: Transparency
Maintain transparency with your communications, say I do not know
Step #6: Frontliners
Empower your frontline employees to communicate with confidence
It was an impressive turn around despite the rain and almost blocked traffic in Cairo, 42 people showed up to attend the panel discussion featuring the visiting delegation of the ProFellows, U.S. Exchange Program.
Featuring panelists from Calvert Impact Capital, Village Capital, and LifeCents side by side with Egypreneur’s investment mentor Hamd Al Khayat – the “Raising and Managing Money” panel discussion featured dialogue in bridging the gap between the level of readiness of entrepreneurs in Egypt with available funding instruments globally.
Highlights from the panel included:
Investment is made according to steps, stages, and milestones, you need to understand and define your current stage and your next milestones, otherwise, you’d be wasting your and other people’s time.
Do you want to raise funding? Start a conversation with Egypreneur Funding Assistant below
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If you could secure time over a weekend in Cairo, your life could get more exciting by attending one of these industry meetups in an area of interest.
Cairo is increasingly hosting local meetups as part of global specialist networks that help build & nurture collaborative communities of likeminded specialists, professionals and practitioners sharing the best of their experience and spreading knowledge, resources and case studies in emerging practices.
These kinds of meetups are extermely valuable to nurture the emerging innovation, entrepreneurship and startup movement in Egypt with globally exposed practitioners and workforce that’s able to compete globally.
Just like me, you are probably trying to make sense of what Creative Coding might be. Creative Coding is the practice of using code as a canvas for art, using creative coding you could be able to produce visual and audiovisual performances that compliments static works of art, opening up a new dimension for the arts and advertising industries.
Here is an example for you to ponder.
The meetup featured a conference call with Omar El Kammar, a Creative Coder and audiovisual artist all the way from Berlin.
Omar started being known to Musicians in Egypt as the guy who do weird (innovative) things with computers, after four year of learning the tools and working on projects, Omar is now confidently executing top-notch Creative Coding projects as part of an agency in Berlin. You can follow Omar on Instagram here to see some of the recent projects he had been involved in.
Omar highlighted the importance of storytelling and aesthetics for Creative Coding projects to avoid being dragged into challenges with the tools you use, but rather using them to get the concept done.
Omar has been massively generous with resources that he shared a full resource pool with attendees to get inspired and use it for their projects.
Mohamed Hossam, the ambassador of Creative Coding Meetups in Egypt highlighted that getting a residence as a “Creative Coding” professional could be the start of the way to have access to the intriguing challenges of big projects, but you can always start experimenting on your own to develop the skillset.
We had a brief discussion on the potential of commercializing “Creative Coding” in Egypt and agreeing that spreading awareness about the practice and how it can be used in advertising project would be necessary for more applications to be brought to the surface.
Since I started working professionally in delivering technology products, analyzing the growing tech startup scene and lately prototyping solutions using emerging technologies. I could testify that most of the mistakes that I have committed and observed had to do with the discipline of Product Management.
At Robusta Studio, a group of product management professionals hosted their first meetup in association with Mind the Product and its community meetups brand Product Tank, the volunteer group called “Product Guys” has done a fine job featuring a presentation and Q&A panel tackling the basics of product management.
Michael Soliman led an interesting Career evolving from the technology side into the product management side. Beside his experience and insights, Michael’s charachter and attitude intrigued me as possibly being the most important asset in working in product management.
Michael sees himself as a facilitator for the tech and business teams to gurantee product success. I gathered my thoughts from the discussion and Michael’s story into the following pieces of advice – in case you a Black Mirror fan, I’m making reference to a favorite episode that help us visualize the role of product manager:
1. Empathy: Never Overstep on Anyone’s Domain Expertise or Responsability
One of the big challenges operating as a facilitator between different teams and disciplines is seeing how everyone is getting territorial, if this happens, the most honest of actions can be taken as undermining someone’s authority. Keeping your ego at the door is essential for productivity and the best way to reach that is to be the first doing it and inspiring the culture.
A product person must practice empathy with the teams and team leaders engaged with their work, on taking the time to process how they think about the challenge from their prespective without becoming pushover, a challenge for introverted empaths who naturally avoid confrontations and as a result commit to unreasonable deadlines and responsabilities.
Daly the introverted CTO from Black Mirror comes to mind as someone who supresses and often sacrifices his comfort, needs and leadership capacity for the sake of the comfort of everyone else, ending up with entrapping everyone in a digital game! Not funny!
Michael shared with me in discussion after that what he found essential in these discussions and negotiations is explictly relying on facts and maintaining a friendly relationship with everyone on a personal level.
Don’t be grandiose and don’t be a push over. Good luck figuring out what that means in every situation you encounter.
2. Committment: Take your time with estimates and trust people to decide and commit on their own
Missing a deadline or falling short on producing something they promised is a pain for every professional . You don’t want to be seen as not committed and you empathize with people who don’t want the same to happen with them.
By then getting people to commit also requires you to give them the time and space to assess their priorities, allocated time and provide a reasonable estimate that you can probably then negotiate.
Remember how Daly’s partner stormed into his room to tell him that the update will have to go live anyway, the way he shouted and tabbed our introverted engineer in the head? That’s not nice. Don’t be like Daly’s boss or you know the consequences.
3. Engagement: Engaging external stakeholders with the Product Management process
If you provide software development services, your client will think they control the flow of what gets done, the same if your CEO is not engaged or experienced in the product development process. By then, proactively engaging primary stakeholders (who don’t report to you) by explaining your product management process is a very effective practice to minimize future conflicts and have ground rules to get back to whenever conflict arises.
Imagine a product manager who can keep everyone happy? Yes, keep that thought, because that’s probably just meant to be an imagination.
Product Guys are planning to host a bi-monthly meetup and a bi-monthly Product Tank (indepth sessions). If you are interested in product management, you can join their Group on Facebook and keep yourself updated.
What was most impressive for me as an entrepreneur is seeing Antje Hundhausen of Telekom, being introduced as the Founder of Fashion Fusion – I know how sensitive companies are in calling a staff a “Founder” of something, so it was good to see an example where “Intrapreneurship” goes beyond lip service.
The same also happened with the Founders of “Electronic Beats” despite being staff on Telekom payroll, they maintained a long term “Founder” status of the business division. It also seemed like they had to “compete” internally for Telekom resources which was pretty close to how my world of “entrepreneurship” works!
You can find more information about the impressive projects that won everywhere, but I’m sharing my personal reflections and time spent at the event.
I like to start at the end, that’s why Network Nerves landed most of my attention, probably also because it was the most visually active project – and if I want to be more honest, probably because it had the most attractive project owners as well! – Network Nerves uses “Smart Textile” to empower performers to express themselves on stage, the idea is great, the team intended to use a liquid for illumination but ran into “Mechanical” challenges so ended up using leds – the team didn’t seem to be happy about how it turned out to be. As an Engineer, I promised to look at the issue and offer support on resolving it, the market is niche and tricky, but this could be something.
Project Love left me in awe, at the beginning it seemed very simple and basic business model of providing “PLus Size” with wardrobe options with a better fashion taste, but I was impressed to see their 3D scanner technology, where they can produce a 3D version of you through just an App and a scanning booth, then, you are able to pick the items that would fit it through the app, making it easier for them to identify specific size and fashion needs. On a proper scale, this project could be a winner too.
Petra from Project Love… Making it easier for Plus Size to find the fashion suitable to them backed by a 3D body scan technology @TelekomFashionFusion pic.twitter.com/h7lKlWscOR
How about you get a vibration everytime your posture is not right? Sounds a bit creepy, but Smart Orthosis offers a vest with a digital neuro-network that analyzes your posture through bluetooth connection to your phone and upon detecting a harmful posture, you get a vibration to adjust your posture. It seems to have benefits in theory, I’m not sure in practice whether you’d like to be vibrated into when your posture is not alright. Probably I would like to try that for a day and judge by the level of comfort later.
The sweetest thing at the end of the ceremony was that my friend and DJ from Canada, Sarah Barrable, managed with her smooth diplomacy and leadership skills to take over the DJ table and produced some awesome dance Music for the whole crowd! For which all our group, event staff, attendees and remaining Telekom staff enjoyed sharing and connecting..
Before we start, I have a confession to make: while being known for my business ventures in internet/technology/media/finance/business services, by education and academic degree, I’m a Mechanical Design & Production Engineer.
At almost 17 years of age, representing my first company at an entrepreneurship expo following The Art of Business Creation Workshop
Pursuing my natural tendency to choose an adventurous entrepreneurship path early on, I became an entrepreneur as a freshman at my engineering school and had been one since then. My Academic background didn’t in any how influence the type of ventures I choose to associate with to the extend that I have seen it as totally irrelevant, but probably this time and for the first time, working with Green Startups, I enjoyed being a production engineer as it allowed me to understand the underlying operations and potential impact of these green ventures on a deeper level.
Last Thursday, August 3rd, Egypreneur Club at Talaat Harb Square – currently on soft opening mode – hosted “Green Startups Meet Investors” event organized on behalf of the EU’s SwitchMed Programme; a program dedicated to assisting Green Startups in accessing capital and support services needed to scale their ventures. The event featured 7 entrepreneurs pitching their business for feedback from stakeholders, who had been generous with their insights during and after the event.
Egypreneur Club, Talaat Harb is hosting a few follow-up meetings between entrepreneurs, investors and stakeholders who found some of these projects interesting. If you find any of the ventures below relevant to you, please, do get in touch, would be glad to introduce you to the entrepreneurs to discuss partnership.
Personally, I admired all the project ideas and was very delighted to see sophisticated solutions to real-life problems that is either already implemented and seeking growth capital or getting very close to commercialization. A stage in which I was able to work with the entrepreneurs on what my previous 12 years has been about, turning a great idea/concept/product into a great company.
Mr. Ahmed Ismail, or the Patents Designer as he describes himself, pitched Malek for Food Dehydrators. With a registered Intellectual Property and wide recognition for its innovative approach and possible economic impact. Ahmed’s startup builds and distributes a device that dehydrates fresh fruits and vegetables at farms for easier and cheaper transporation and consumption.
“40% of Egyptian vegetables/ 35% of fruits go to waste mainly due to high transport cost, while 6 million ton of Egyptian tomato crop go to waste that lead to up to 130 million m3 methane gas emission to environment and forms great loss for both of farmers income and many of natural resources as water, land, fertilizers, energy also labor and capital that go to produce food that no one consumes”
Malek’s device tremendously brings down the price for the final consumer while retaining the nutrutious value of the fresh foods – while also increasing the income of small farmers. Mr. Ahmed brought samples of dehydrated foods created using his device to be enjoyed by the attendees. Unexpectedly for me, the dried Mango and Bananas tasted as the best types of fresh fruits you can try.
Ahmed continues to seek the right financial and business partners to boost the commercialization of his invention by producing and distributing the device at scale for Egyptian farmers and beyond.
Mr. Magdy Sharaf takes the economic impact of recycling to the next level by mixing fiberglass and hardened cartoon fabric remnants to form a new material with better physical/mechanical properties – the material, which has an Intellectual Property registered – allows Mr. Magdy’s startup El Wady for Fiberglass to produce various products that’s up to 3 times cheaper than its alternatives and has even better and more durable features, products include but not limited to Street Lighting Poles, Doors, Outdoor Boothes, Caravans, Furniture and more…
In case you are a fequent visitor to one of Cairo’s most popular mega malls, City Stars, you most likely have slowed down to take a look at an Advert on a street bump on your own in or out of the parking lot. This Advert is developed by Mr. Magdy’s new material and developed by El Wady for Fiberglass for one of Egypt’s top Ad agencies.
So far, El Wady for Fiberglass has fulfilled over 15 purchase order with a value approaching 1 Million EGP for only 2 of its products developed using the new material, being, Street Lighting Poles and Doors. Its clientele included entities like Egyptian Ministry of Interiors, Real Estate Developers, Building and Construction Companies, NGOs. Yet, despite all this success, El Wady is forced to decline majority of purchase orders they are receiving now as their small factory runs out of capacity to deliver on large purchase orders.
El Wady is looking for expansion capital now by moving from the small factory – where they have achieved all their success into a much larger production facility where they can scale their operation and spend further on building an organizational structure that allows the business to scale.
The company defines its Total Addressable Market (TAM) in Egypt only to be 5 Billion EGP, competing head-on with manufacturers and suppliers of Street Lighting Poles, Doors, Furniture and more. The company expects to dominate 5% of this market in its first year upon receiving the needed funding and expand to 15% and 25% in following years.
I saw Magdy’s El Wady, just like I saw Ahmed’s Malek, truly disruptive models for very large markets across different industries and its success takes the practice of innovation and entrepreneurship in Egypt to a more real and mature level, moving beyond apps and tech and looking in-depth at serious problems the community is facing where innovation and entrepreneurship can have serious social and economic impact.
While majority of startup investors and funds in Egypt continues to focus exclusively on tech startups, and those who don’t, continue to require an exaggerated level of maturity for the startup, I’m sure there are plenty of intelligent investors who can bring lots of business acumen to the already successful implementations of smart innovations.
I had to go through discussions that got heated into debates with the entrepreneurs who complained about receiving only superficial support mostly in the form of recognition and celebration and that investors have overlooked their pitches because they were no flashy internet-tech startups, I had to argue on behalf of investors for a second chance on pitching to local investors, before heading to international finance opportunities.
Ahmed El Masry’s story is no different, realizing that only 5-12% of household waste in Egypt is getting recycled and that Egypt consumes 10 million tons of organic fertilizers annually while producing only 3 million tons locally – Ahmed’s Hand2Hand started getting down to business to fill the 7 million tons organic fertalizers market gap relying on the unlimited resource of recycleable raw materials from household waste.
In an impressively sharp pitch, Ahmed presented to the audience the logic and numbers of how he sees the problem and realizes the solution within reach.
Hand2Hand has already started the construction of the digester device necessary for converting waste into organic fertilizers. The company is raising 20,000 Euros to finish the digester construction, purchase the hardware necessary for managing the supply chain of organic waste and launch awareness campaigns to promote household waste segregation.
Ahmed’s startup Hand2Hand has presented a perfect example of fitting societal problems and accordingly market needs with available resources and opportunities, achieving both social and economic impact across the startup’s ecosystem on household level, farm level and national level through expanding reclaimed desert land using organic fertilizers.
Four other entrepreneurs has presented impressive companies being Vwaste, turning dried fruit (especially Orange) peel into Pectine that can be used across industries. EatWater which builds a device that clears food from any causes of cancer using nanotechnology. Tadweer which seeks to disrupt the supply chain for the waste collection ecosystem in Egypt by providing professional and consistent waste collection and segregation services. And last but not least Shamsia Space which supports the economic backbone of Suez as a main industrial hub in Egypt by launching a number of entrepreneur-empowerment initiatives including a co-working space and a maker space in Suez.
After seven impressive presentations, the audience had plenty of feedback to share, that’s when an extended networking period started for entrepreneurs to receive feedback from stakeholders
Mr. Ahmed Ismail of Malek Food dehydration discussing his business with Mr. Hassan Mansi from ABA.
Mr. Mohamed Mahfouz from Shamsia Spaces, discussing his business with Ms. Dina Hassabalah from Sawiris Foundation for Environmental Development
During the networking break, scoring sheets that attendees had during the pitches were collected in order for SwitchMed team to do the math and calculate the highest score achieved through the socring grid which included variables such as Pitch Quality, Business Model, Scalability, Solution Proposed, Key Success Factors and Clear Green Impact. Vwaste was announced as the winner of this year’s SwtichMed Content in Egypt and the team will travel to Barcelona in 2018 to present its business on the global SwitchMed event.
Ms. Claudia Pani, SwitchMed Program Manager handing over the prize to the winning team, Vwaste.
As we are also in the process of launching our membership program for Egypreneur Club in Talaat Harb Square, I was glad to announce granting all 7 entrepreneurs Premium Membership at Egypreneur Club, Talaat Harb. Turning the event venue from a one-time event into a permanent hub that will retain and expand on the energy created to coach, support and help Green Entrepreneurs access capital and support services they need.
Upon the request of some of the participating entrepreneurs, who considered her to be the first person to believe in them and provide them with real support. Prof. Ghada Amer, Vice President at Arab Science and Technology Foundation was invited to share her feedback with attendees, providing eloquent, constructive and inspiring feedback to all participating startups.
It remains a challenge for these entrepreneurs to persist against all odds to bring their projects to life on a reasonable scale and to be able to endure the challenges and lack of “real” support and often the superficiality of startup celebrations versus the real needs for these projects to turn to be fruiteful. Something that entrepreneurs has agreed that the SwitchMed program has done a very good job in raising their capacity to be able to deliver a convincing pitch and presenting their projects in such a way that will hopefully help them in raising the needed capital and acquiring the support services needed.
Representatives from Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation, Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry joined alongside representatives from UNIDO, Sekem, Knowledge, Sawiris Foundation for Sustainable Development to put together the best ending for the event by a group circle discussion during which entrepreneurs’ spirits were boosted, energy renewed and the feedback they needed, was delivered and digested.
Mr. Hassan, Serial Entrepreneur and member of ABA Association sharing feedback in an open circle format pic.twitter.com/2piIRIsVkz
Something we are committed to continue doing and repeating at Egypreneur Club as a hub for acknowledging and supporting entrepreneurs who challenge their surrounding circumstances to achieve greater social and economic impact for themselves, their beloved nation and the world at large.