For Egypt's Entrepreneurs, Opportunities Lie In Deep-Rooted Economic Challenges As it matures, Egypt's entrepreneurial scene is coming to terms with the reality of the context in which it operates, and looking for ways to maneuver around the roadblocks that come along.

By Amira Salah-Ahmed

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If it is true that entrepreneurs find opportunity in dysfunction, then Egypt's maturing entrepreneurship ecosystem is likely to continue thriving.

At the start, most of the attention was focused on tech startups and mobile-based applications, who dominated the scene for a number of years. Today, entrepreneurial activity in Egypt is more diverse, and rightfully so, because this is more in line with the local market's needs.

As it matures, Egypt's entrepreneurial scene is coming to terms with the reality of the context in which it operates, and looking for ways to maneuver around the roadblocks that come along.

Startups along with SMEs disrupting a wider range of industries are now demanding the attention they have long deserved, not least of which because the structural problems inherent in the local economy present opportunities in a much broad range of sectors.

From lacking basic services, such as healthcare and education, emerges the most potential with the highest prospects for impact. It is in sectors once dominated by large stakeholders and state entities –among these energy and real estate are good examples– where the agility and innovation of entrepreneurs is most needed.

Regionally, unemployment is highest among the youth, and to compound matters, rates are rising more acutely now given the tumultuous geopolitical developments. The answer, then, lies in harnessing the creativity and drive of this same segment of the population, empowering them to design, craft and execute their own futures, both literally and figuratively.

The change is reflected in the hefty lineup and numerous activity of this year's RiseUp summit, which is set to kick off on Saturday. Once again, we find ourselves surrounded by the buzz and build up to RiseUp, anticipating the changes it will bring and the investors, founders and corporate executives that will arrive at the doorstep of Egypt's startup hub.

Diving deeper into the challenges and opportunities that exist in the regional market, Endeavor Egypt is organizing seven Industry Spotlights at this year's RiseUp, which will zero in on specific sectors and highlight the potential that exists for entrepreneurs. By taking a closer look at the changing landscape of some of the most vital sectors in the economy, the sessions will reflect on the vital role entrepreneurship plays in economic development. The subsequent panel discussions will address a broad range of issues: how is innovation answering the growing demand for better quality healthcare services? Have ed-tech initiatives been able to tackle structural problems in traditional education systems? How are supply and demand dynamics driving the energy and renewables market? How are IT and mobile technology powering growth in once stagnant industries? Is the F&B sector maturing or saturated? How is market segmentation redefining real estate and urban development? Where does the future of retail and fashion lie, online or offline?

Only by bringing these issues to the fore and opening up a constructive debate around them can we, as a well connected and increasingly better sourced ecosystem, begin to address the many challenges facing entrepreneurship and, in turn, regional economic development.

It is time to tackle structural economic problems at their core, and it is in these dedicated and niche solutions that entrepreneurship can continuously pivot and find its way to meaningful and scalable impact.
Amira Salah-Ahmed

Marketing Manager, Endeavor Egypt

Amira Salah-Ahmed is the Marketing Manager at Endeavor Egypt. She has more than 10 years of experience as a business journalist and editor, and is one of the co-founders of Mada Masr, an independent news website covering Egypt in English and Arabic.

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