Dr. Nasr : "The President always supports youth initiatives and periodically meets with them"
On the sidelines of her participation at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa "Davos" held at the Dead Sea in Jordan, the Minister of Investment and International Cooperation Dr. Sahar Nasr gave an overview of Egypt's experience in entrepreneurship at a session on the impact of startups on the society ...The session was held in presence of Minister of Trade and Industry in Amman Mr. Ali Al-Sinidi, Director of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Court Ms. Mona Hammami, and Co-Founder and CEO at Yamsafer Mr. Faris Zaher who presented their countries' experiences in the entrepreneurship field, with participation from Mr. Philipp Rösler, Managing Director of the WEF.
The Minister emphasized that supporting startups was one of MIIC's pivotal roles with the aim to achieve economic development, provide job opportunities and support the private sector, while noting that high employment rates, especially among youth and women, was a challenge facing the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).
The Minister indicated that President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi supported youth economic empowerment and was keen on meeting with them periodically and on learning about their initiatives and problems through the National Youth Conference (NYC).
Further, the Minister referred to the efforts of the government and the private sector in supporting small enterprises and startups, given that MIIC established "Egypt Company for Entrepreneurship and Investment" to support direct and indirect investments in startups, entrepreneurship and small enterprises with a capital of EGP 451 million. The Company also aimed at investing in business incubators, venture capital funds and various companies to support growth and economic development in Egypt.
According to the Minister, the Company would contribute to bridging the financing gap of startups through providing funds in order to directly or indirectly contribute to the capital of such companies. This could be achieved through entrepreneurship incubators or venture capital funds, which would have a positive impact on supporting startups and on pushing them towards growth. The Minister emphasized that the Company was meant to attract foreign and local investment, make joint investments with the private sector, maximize opportunities of startups for global competition, create competitive environment, and provide better services of high quality at lower costs, which would improve the services provided by major companies and, in turn, affect citizens positively.
The New Investment Law would support SMEs and startups, which provide youth with job opportunities, indicated the Minister. She also mentioned that MIIC worked with the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to support SMEs. She further pointed out that MIIC was keen on presenting Egyptian success stories to all international financial institutions, while noting that the government's main goal was to improve standards of living.
Startups, as reiterated by Dr. Nasr, would contribute to changing the society through a number of successful projects that solve many social problems. As a case in point, the government recently approved a draft law for regulating "Uber and Careem" transportation services with a view to provide better services to citizens according to the law. The Minister explained that the role of the government was to eliminate bureaucracy and any obstacles facing investors and startups, noting that the law was submitted to the parliament to set a relevant legislative framework in preparation for its approval.
In addition, the Minister pointed out that successful projects would contribute to creating common values in the society. She added that investors sought to finance companies that would contribute to changing the society positively and to achieving material rewards. As mentioned by the Minister, the success of startups in effecting social change would be measured in the long term through measuring tangible results and their impact. For instance, Solaris Egypt, a solar power company, could implement over 40 solar projects nationwide with total capacities of 110 KW.
The Minister also clarified that startups would not pay off and would not obtain funds or capital without investors.
The Minister of Trade and Industry referred to the significance of encouraging major companies to support youth through innovative mechanisms.
On her part, Ms. Hammami asserted that it was essential that the government would provide the necessary legislations that would contribute to creating a climate that supports companies and startups.
A discussion took place between the Minister and a number of youth in the Middle East and North Africa. They tackled the best practices of startups and their success factors as well as the achievement of financial inclusion.