CAIRO — The Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) and the World Bank launched a new app, Tamweely, to support entrepreneurship in Egypt. It connects start-ups to financiers and provides them with educational tools.
Boosting entrepreneurship in Egypt could be crucial for the country’s economy. Egypt is demographically dominated by young people, but its youth unemployment was at an astounding 30 percent in 2016. Dina Sherif, co-founder of the social enterprise Ahead of the Curve and fellow at the New America Foundation’s Middle East Task Force, sees entrepreneurship as a way to boost employment opportunities and reduce inequity in Egypt. Increasing entrepreneurship would have positive effects on the country’s development and stability.
The Egyptian government recognizes the need to improve the country’s entrepreneur ecosystem and commit to reforms. Egypt is currently working to reform business regulations and to reduce bureaucratic barriers. The government also seeks to make education more practice-oriented, with linkage programs between universities and the private sector.
Egypt is already experiencing a shift in attitude; the popularity of entrepreneurship is growing. An increased number of people have engaged in starting businesses in recent years. Assistant Professor Dr. Ayman Ismail and Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship Abdul Latif Jameel at the American University in Cairo School of Business stated that the entrepreneur ecosystem in Egypt has significantly improved in recent years, but “remains at the infancy stage.”
Ismail co-authored a recent report published by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) that found reduced barriers to market entry as well as improved social and cultural support for entrepreneurship. The report assesses Egypt’s internal market dynamics and physical infrastructure as strong but criticizes the state of finance and education.
CIPE, a non-profit affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, has been active in Egypt for twenty years, mainly concerned with addressing policy issues in order to improve the country’s business environment. With Tamweely, CIPE expands this approach by also offering tools to entrepreneurs themselves.
Randa Al-Zoghbi, CIPE’s program director in Egypt, states that the app addresses two of the main barriers faced by young entrepreneurs: lacking access to finance, specifically to non-banking financial institutions, and the lack of availability of modern business knowledge in Arabic, the language most commonly spoken in Egypt.
Tamweely provides educational tools in Arabic including guides and templates for making business plans, knowledge on topics like marketing and information on the institutional and legal environments new businesses face. Additionally, the app can be used to connect entrepreneurs to banks, non-banking financial institutions and individual investors, opening opportunities for partnerships and the allocation of funding.
In an interview on the podcast “Democracy that Delivers,” Al-Zoghbi also discusses discrimination in the business world. Discrimination poses a challenge to underestimated young entrepreneurs from rural Upper Egypt. Tamweely ensures a more democratic, equal and objective process, according to the program director.
The GEM report shines a light on the progress of entrepreneurship in Egypt in the past decade and emphasizes the need for further improvements. With its new app, CIPE hopes to support Egypt’s transformation into a promoter of innovation and entrepreneurship.
– Lena Riebl