“A guy came to me and pitched me the idea for an entrepreneurial event in Egypt. I told him to go work on it and depending on what had been done in the coming month, I would make a decision to either support it or not.” Ahmed ElAlfi, chairman of Sawari Ventures and founder of Tahrir Alley Technology Park explained. Some months later, he sat with that young guy at one table, announcing Egypt’s first and biggest entrepreneurship Summit RiseUp Egypt.
That young guy is Abdelhameed Sharara, a graduate of one of Injaz Egypt’s program and their former company program officer. Modest, passionate and extremely hard-working, Sharara had also worked as an English conversation and soft-skills trainer at Berlitz, and is the co-founder and business development manager of adams. He is a firm believer in business tycoon Naguib Sawiris’ quote: “If someone tells me something is impossible. I say "You wanna bet?" – and it seems like this is the exact attitude Sharara used in order to gain the support of Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem – starting from the smallest of startups, reaching the biggest of companies.
Initially, Sharara was planning to go to law-school, but he ended up in one of the programs offered to entrepreneurs by Injaz Egypt - an organization that helps prepare students to enter the workforce as qualified and skilled employees via a variety of programs. “We are so proud that one of our alumni is the actual founder of this event. It falls very well in our philosophy of promoting entrepreneurship and bringing people together. Sharara is a fantastic example of a young person whose mindset has completely changed after taking one of our programs,” Dina El Mofty, Executive Director of Injaz Egypt, told Egypt Business Directory.
In Arabic, “Sharara” means “spark”, something that well enough describes what happened on the 24th and 25th of November 2013 at the GrEEK Campus – the venue of “Egypt’s next Silicon Valley”, as ElAlfi likes to call it. The RiseUp Summit did not only bring Egypt’s entrepreneurs, investors, experts and consultants together, but it connected them to the actual Silicon Valley and the rest of the world via a Google+ Hangout organized by the MIT Enterprise Forum for the Pan-Arab region. Workshops were held by Wamda and Flat6Labs, success stories were shared via Endeavor’s Enspire Stage, pitching opportunities were provided and a trade fair was set up by Injaz Egypt. “It’s the first and biggest of its kind and everyone from the entrepreneurship ecosystem is here with an amazing spirit and readiness to cooperate,” El Mofty stated.
“I provided RiseUp Egypt with the venue because of the energy of people who were organizing the event, especially Abdelhameed Sharara. His passion, his commitment and his desire to really do something wonderful for the community convinced me and gave him that edge,” ElAlfi said.
Naturally humble, Sharara told Egypt Business Directory that the event turned out to be much bigger than he had first expected. “The main value of this event lies in knowing how big our ecosystem is and centralizing it all in one place. However, not everyone is getting what they need just yet. This is an aspect we want to enhance, especially for RiseUp MENA,” he added.
Sharara is already planning to take the RiseUp Summit to the next level and conquering the Middle East and North Africa. “We want to get all the stakeholders of the region in one place,” he said.