Uplift 4 Upper Egypt Program: Mobilizing Entrepreneurship & Innovation from Upper Egypt to Support the Most in Need

Published on Wed, 01 Jun, 2022

According to (Disrupt Africa 2021) a mere 6.4% of the 562 tech start-ups currently operating, are headquartered outside of Greater Cairo, indicating a heavy geographic centralization of the sustainability conditions of the start-ups market in Egypt. In 2015 the number of venturing companies stood at only 10 start-ups entering the market with innovative solutions to an array of growing social needs. In September 2021, almost 6 years later, the number of start-ups has grown to reach 562 active start-ups. This is further accentuated as investments in start-ups grew from 8.6$ million in 2015 to a staggering 404$ million in 2021. Such an exponential growth in value coupled with its geographic distribution could be explained by the magnetism and sheer potential of the Capital’s market to sustain new innovative, feasible and expandable solutions to society’s most pressing needs. However, society’s most pressing needs and those who need them the most often stretch beyond the market’s focality, while innovation crosses borders.

The Gemini UPLIFT 4 Upper Egypt program is centered around providing starting companies with the needed support to grow in a challenging and developing market. Gemini Africa and Sawiris Foundation hosted a demo day for 18 shortlisted startups descending from Upper Egypt to Cairo to showcase their innovative solutions. The Upper Egypt Startups program aims to provide support to entrepreneurs across various sectors, and provide a platform to unleash the potential of their ideas which have a positive social impact. 

Out of 1,500 applications to Uplift 4 Upper Egypt, Gemini Africa incubated start-ups using the 3M’s approach of providing Money, Match Making, and Mentorship to 45 companies to bring their solutions to the market. 3 pitches were selected by judges who choose winners in accordance with the social impact and economic viability of solutions and ideas pitched. Sawiris Foundation believes in the power of social entrepreneurship to deliver needed solutions, but also to economically empower underprivileged and excluded entrepreneurs to break the otherwise stiff barriers to market entry and social mobility.

Noura Selim, Executive Director of Sawiris Foundation asserted that “small enterprises development programs remain one of the Foundation’s main priorities from its inception up to this point and beyond as one of the main drivers of economic empowerment. I would like to congratulate all companies which received financial awards and I wish all participating companies' success in securing needed support through the matchmaking and mentorship provided.”

While Mohamed Barakat, Economic Empowerment Department Director at the Foundation has also stressed the importance and vitality of coupling entrepreneurship with positive social impact which the Foundation ensures through the projects and activities of its small enterprises' development & training for employment programs.

Adly Toma, CEO and Executive Chairman of Gemini Africa also stated he is “proud of the positive impact Gemini Africa’s start-ups in Upper Egypt program has achieved. Not only to the participants themselves, but also to assert the role youth and entrepreneurs have to solve their societies needs through innovation & technology and hence our effort to guide them in achieving their social impact. We also believe in the importance of our partnership with Sawiris Foundation in cooperation to deliver our shared vision of the importance of collaboration amongst us to provide a successful model for supporting the youth and the inclusive development of society.”

Out of 1,500 applications to Uplift 4 Upper Egypt, Gemini Africa incubated start-ups using the 3M’s approach of providing Money, Match Making, Mentorship to 45 companies to bring their innovative solutions to the market. The first round of UPLIFT 4 Upper Egypt had its closing with 3 winning pitches selected by judges including leading experts and sector leaders who choose winners in accordance with the social impact and economic viability of their solutions and ideas. 

Sawiris Foundation believes in the power of social entrepreneurship to deliver needed solutions, but also to economically empower underprivileged and excluded entrepreneurs to break the otherwise stiff barriers to market entry and social mobility. Hence it is our pleasure to introduce to you the winners of Uplift 4 Upper Egypt:

  • 1st place prize went to: ihelp

A digital platform aiming to empower persons with disabilities to access services and training in an independent form without hurdles. Their message is to build an inclusive and sustainable society, where the participation and potential of persons with disabilities are respected.

Company Website: www.ihelpnetwork.com - Social Media: iHelp | LinkedIn

  • 2nd place prize went to: Biobekia

Founded in 2018 Biobekia is now a company that specializes in supporting businesses in managing their solid waste in an easy and environmentally friendly way, and supplies companies and factories with needed raw materials.

Company Website: www.biobekia.com - Social Media: Biobekia | LinkedIn

  • 3rd place prize went to: MAKANY STORES

The company operates on upcycling alternative furniture and decorations by reusing car tires and transforming them into innovative pieces with unique Egyptian heritage designs.

Social Media:  مكانى store | Facebook


Notable pitches were also made by the following companies:

Banana Art   -    Taza   -   Fintech   -   Tajdeed   -   Stacknet     

Codey   -   Egy hosting   -   Recave   -    Ekshefli   -   KIGDD   -    Jupi   -   Geniuschools  

Iuono for cultural heritage   -   Five Stars   -   Mandobak Smart   -   Future Mushroom

Click here for the full brochure of the demo day


ABOUT GEMINI ENTERPRISES AFRICA 

Gemini Enterprises Africa (GEA), part of Orascom group, is an investment company promoting a new vision of collaboration superseding competition through its growing partnership network. GEA exemplifies what it means to incubate young entrepreneurs, by becoming the number one hub orchestrating the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem and bolstering startups. GEA offers a full partnership investment model, as well as an equity investment option & seed funding programs. GEA’s impact reaches out to the entire African continent by fighting against the developmental challenges and creating sustainable business opportunities.

Click here to know more about GA


ABOUT SAWIRIS FOUNDATION

The Sawiris Foundation for Social Development (SFSD) was established in 2001 with an endowment from the Sawiris Family as one of the first national donor foundations in Egypt. Since its establishment, SFSDs’ focus is on addressing the most pressing issues facing the most marginalized Egyptians such as poverty, unemployment, provision of health services, and little access to quality education. Over the past 20 years, SFSD has succeeded in funding and delivering programs aimed at achieving comprehensive and sustainable development, in partnership with the governmental and private sectors, as well as civil society. This has resulted in the creation of thousands of job opportunities, availing quality education, and providing services to more than 500,000 beneficiaries, with a total budget allocated by the foundation since its founding of EGP 2 billion.

Authors(s)

Adham Hamdy

Adham is the Learning & Innovations Officer at SFSD since 2022. Previously, Adham consulted on reform of G2B services delivery for the EBRD. Is an alumnus of the Danish Egyptian Dialogue Initiative DEDI and worked at the Egyptian National Competitiveness Council (ENCC). Adham Graduated in 2020 with an MA is Social & Political Thought from University of Sussex, UK, and holds a Bachelors of Arts in Political Sciences from the American University in Cairo in 2015 and is a strong advocate for ecological/circular economic policy and socioeconomic solidarity, inclusion and equality. (Contact:ahamdy@sawirisfoundation.org)