The Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit 2016 took place in the Red Sea town of El Gouna from 16-19 November. The Summit was part of a series of events that took place in Egypt in conjunction with the Global Entrepreneurship Week. A2K4D’s Senior Research Officer, Nagham El Houssamy, participated in the summit, speaking on the Data-Driven Innovation Panel on Friday 18 November.
This is the second Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit to take place, and the first in which A2K4D has participated. The Summit was well attended, with numerous stakeholders from the entrepreneurship ecosystem, including academics, practitioners, and young entrepreneurs. The opening plenary session included welcoming remarks by the event hosts and organizers and distinguished speakers, including Mr. Peter Van Rooij, ILO Cairo Office & North Africa DWT Director; Dr. Luca Iandoli, International Council for Small Businesses President; Mr. Troy Lulashnyk, Ambassador of Canada to Egypt; and H.E. Dr. Sahar Nasr, Egyptian Minister of International Cooperation. The speakers stressed the important role of entrepreneurship in the creation of more and better jobs for Egyptians, going on to refer to entrepreneurs as agents of change. Dr. Iandoli raised an interesting question, asking whether it is best to pursue a quest for economic development based on social justice or pursue a quest for social justice based on economic development. To the panel, the optimal path was to pursue both simultaneously by encouraging and enabling entrepreneurship.
The Data-Driven Innovation Panel took place on the second day of the Summit. The panel was moderated by Dr. Raed Sharif, Senior Program Officer for the Technology and Innovation Program at IDRC, and included Dr. Hossam Abdelgawad from SETC Egypt, Ms. Basma El-bana from GIZ, Egypt, Mr. Chris Celiberti from Heal R World USA, and A2K4D’s Nagham El Houssamy. The objective of the panel was to explore the existing and potential possibilities for business generation around data (i.e., data-driven entrepreneurial activities), where future career-building and job growth are foreseen. Speakers discussed the ways in which digital entrepreneurship and data-driven innovation can contribute to the future of career-building and job creation for youth in Egypt. Dr. Sharif began the session by showing a short video explaining the value of data for entrepreneurs (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ST9AUlBKS_4). “Data is the world’s greatest free resource”, he explained to the audience, “helping thousands of entrepreneurs around the world launch new businesses and come up with products and services”. GIZ’s El-bana spoke next discussing a training program organized by GIZ on “How to become a Data-Driven Business” that took place a week earlier. El-bana explained how valuable this training was to both entrepreneurs and data professionals. Entrepreneurs learned how to package their businesses in a data-oriented framework, in addition to learning how to tell a data-driven story and thus become a more convincing entrepreneur. Data professionals learned how to connect data and metrics to business objectives, with exposure to real-life cases. El Houssamy spoke next on research she conducted with A2K4D’s Nadine Weheba on digital entrepreneurship in Egypt. El Houssamy and Weheba interviewed 8 prominent digital startups in Egypt, surveying the digital start up scene, and developing a framework of enablers and obstacles that digital entrepreneurs face. In the interviews, data had come up as a means of improving businesses, creating further revenue streams, for developmental purposes, and to benefit other aspiring entrepreneurs. The digital startups interviewed brought to attention a second generation of data driven innovation based on new data that was digitally born from startups’ business models. Startups have actually been creating new data sets as a result of their business models, which has in turn created sustainability for their businesses by providing an additional revenue stream. Dr. Abdelgawad was the next panel speaker, sharing with the audience several visuals made from Google Traffic data on Egypt. Through his visuals, he illustrated one of the many potential utilizations of open data. Finally, Mr. Celiberti spoke about his experience with his data-oriented business Heal R World.
Events like the Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit are a necessity for stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem, allowing them to share perspectives, interact, and ultimately align goals to further support entrepreneurs and create an enabling environment for them to thrive in. With a growing interest in entrepreneurial-related activities in Egypt and the region, check out A2K4D’s website and social media for updates on the topic.