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Egypt's entrepreneurs will rise up with a bang

RiseUp Egypt is around the corner - here are some of the opportunities that await entrepreneurs.

In Egypt’s first entrepreneurial summit, RiseUp plans to bring members of the ecosystem together to provide opportunities for startups. In a press conference yesterday, initiator and organizer Abdelhameed Sharara stated that over 2,000 entrepreneurs and change-makers are going to join the buzz, with the help of eight key institutions.

Abdelhameed Sharara, founder of RiseUp Egypt

The event will take place at the GrEEK Campus, which is widely known as "AUC West ElBalad" - an image that Sawari Ventures founder and Chairman Ahmed El Alfi is planning to change in the coming years, by turning the facility into Egypt's very own Silicon Valley. "In 2 - 3 years, this will be the Arab World's and Africa's entrepreneurship headquarter; and since RiseUp Summit is aiming at the same goals as we are, we are proud to host it here," the founder of the GrEEK Campus said. El Alfi also explained that the location of the venue is very convenient, since half of Egypt's population (40 million people) are able to reach it in about an hour and a half.

Steve Haley (left) and Ahmed El Alfi (right)

When hearing the words 'entrepreneurship' and 'startups', many people automatically think of funding, investment and money. But this is only one side of the ecosystem's needs, Country Representative of MercyCorps Egypt Steve Haley believes. "As one of the key organizers of the event, we believe that it is vital to bring all members of the ecosystem together. Entrepreneurs do not just need money; they also need a network, partners, advice and support - something that RiseUp Egypt is promising to offer," he elaborates. MercyCorps supports IT and agriculture startups that help the less privileged segment of Egypt's population.

The road to the top is tough. Many startups all over the world fail and disappear, but a respectable number of them turn into high-impact businesses. Endeavor Egypt takes pride in supporting the country's high- impact entrepreneurs, such as TBS, Diwan Bookstores, Azza Fahmy Jewellery, Enigma and Mashaweer. Being a hub for success stories, the organization is setting up a stage to "eNSPIRE" and spread a notion of hope and support amongst young startups. "We are happy to help with the execution of RiseUp Egypt and letting our entrepreneurs share their success stories with the rest of the ecosystem." Heba Gamal, Managing Director of Endeavor Egypt stated during the press conference.

Heba Gamal (left), Dina El-Mofty (middle), Dr. Sherif Kamel (right)

Startups need to be able to showcase their products and services in order to catch the attention of potential investors - an opportunity that will be provided by Injaz Egypt. By organizing a trade fair with 50 booths at RiseUp Egypt, Injaz is fulfilling its goal of turning the country's youth from being an economic burden to being an economic resource. "We are trying to spread the entrepreneurship culture and fill the gap between the education system and the job market's needs. We are proud that RiseUp Summit is a graduate of one of our programs," Dina El-Mofty, Executive Director of Injaz Egypt said.

Pinpointing the importance of education, the American University in Cairo's Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program is also a key organizer of the summit. "Egypt's future lies in its education and private sector," Dr. Sherif Kamel, the dean of AUC's School of Business stated at the press conference. "RiseUp Egypt is promoting human resources and trying to give the country's youth a chance. Investment in education, innovation and entrepreneurship will have a tangible effect on the future of social and economic growth in Egypt," he added.

The MIT Enterprise Forum will also help out at the summit, by organizing one-hour panel discussions about challenges facing entrepreneurs in Egypt. Hala Fadel, the Chair of MIT Enterprise Forum in the Pan-Arab Region, believes that Egypt has courage, energy and great ideas - a combination that the RiseUp Summit has embodied and used efficiently to connect entrepreneurs on a wide scale.

Additionally, Flat6Labs is offering mini-workshops to attendees, which will be helpful when the latter move on to the pitching event organized by Cairo Angels, where the best startups have a chance to pitch-fight for a chance to meet Egypt’s top Angel investors. Other activities include Pitch and Ride, where entrepreneurs get a chance to ride a taxi with an investor and pitch their idea while the car drives around Tahrir Square and Wamda's Pitch n' Mentor, in which startups will learn to perfect their elevator- pitch. Also, watch out for the RiseUp Ideathon.

When asked about potential security risks due to possible turmoil in the area, Sharara replied: "If we all sit at home because we are scared, we will never reach anywhere." After the summit, he is planning to tour Egypt's governorates and expand the event to become RiseUp MiddleEast or even RiseUp Africa.