Euromoney panel highlights difficulties facing start-ups



Tue, 19 Sep 2017 - 03:29 GMT


Tue, 19 Sep 2017 - 03:29 GMT

Many successful startup-ups were founded in Egypt throughout the past few years – CC via Pixabay/ngocphuc 1404

Many successful startup-ups were founded in Egypt throughout the past few years – CC via Pixabay/ngocphuc 1404

CAIRO – 19 September 2017: The Euromoney Conferences in Egypt would not exclude discussions over start-ups and entrepreneurs in light of the state's initiatives and reforms to encourage investment. That has been the topic of the last panel prior to the conclusion of the conference on Tuesday.

The panel included Wael Amin, partner at Sawari Ventures operating in Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia; Amr El Abd, managing director of Egypt Ventures; Abdelhamid Sharara, founder and CEO of RiseUp; and Ameer Sherif, CEO of Wuzzuf.

The first topic addressed by the panel was the biggest barriers to creating a start-up in Egypt.

"We have more entrepreneurs than capital. For instance, there is a lack of equity investments. We have good ventures but we are far from Saudi Arabia and UAE," Amin said. Sherif also agreed that there is a shortage of financing opportunities in Egypt.

Regarding other difficulties, Sharara argued that if the internet speed in Egypt increases, there would be a huge difference as infrastructure is important. What’s more, El Abd said, "We have to abolish the stigma of failure."

Answering a question on sectors that are right to disrupt the local market, El Abd said that all sectors are right because they need technology to evolve, stressing that businesses of all sizes would create jobs.

As for the mechanisms that should be deployed to boost the numbers of SMEs, Sharara said that it has to be organic through state strategy and not controlled.

"Egyptian start-ups have the opportunity to compete globally, especially after the floating [of the local currency last November]," Sherif said.

El Abd concurred that Egyptians have to "celebrate" what entrepreneurs in the country achieved as building a successful start-up is not an easy mission.

Sharara shared the same opinion, suggesting that start-ups should facilitate mainstream media access to their accomplishments so that they would showcase their "success stories."

Sherif emphasized the necessity of society's awareness on how technology introduction is changing different sectors, which is typically assumed by start-ups who should not need much PR work.

El Abd highlighted that there is a misconception on the difference between SMEs and entrepreneurship among Egyptians, as the former is the size of the business and the latter is "the edge of the business."

Answering a question on which type of venture is better, one that is similar to others in other countries or the one that is unique and unprecedented worldwide, Amin said that both types are challenging. That is because the former require an "indigenous strategy to address an indigenous culture."

"There are merits to both of them," Amin stated, highlighting how Fawry Banking and Payment Technology Services made great efforts to become the pioneering e-payment network in Egypt, enabling the payment of all bills anywhere. Even though that idea had been carried out elsewhere before in the world, it was disruptive to the Egyptian market.

Sherif said that it is quite unfortunate that some start-ups may not receive funds because they are similar to others. "A good business is the one that fulfills a need in the market," Sherif added.



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