The top five startups included solutions for the agricultural, foodstuff, and electronics informal markets.
As the full scale of the economic effects of the Coronavirus come to light, one of the sectors most adversely affected—and with one of the hardest projected recoveries—is the informal sector. The latest online event by Seedspace Cairo invited startups to think up a digital resolve to Egypt’s informal sector dilemma, helping support market vendors, wholesalers and farmers.
Seedspace received more than 180 applications with proposed solutions for marginalised and underserved communities. From these, 25 teams were launched into a five-day feat of workshops, one-on-one mentorship sessions, and the team’s own process of creating and refining their solutions.
The teams needed to tackle two major challenges facing this community: Challenge A) how to help urban market vendors sell in contact-free ways due to closures and curfews brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, and B) create a supply chain and business model to how these vendors can be equipped to catapult their local businesses into well-oiled-machines that can package, produce, transport and market their produce in both urban and rural areas.
The competition’s top five will join Seedstars’ growth program and get a EGP 20,000 cash prize, while 3 lucky winners will get to join an incubation program at the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology and win EGP 200,000 to fund their project.
The Top Five are (in order of appearance in the final pitch presentations):
7adana offers a solution for small producers in rural areas whose products don’t make it to the online market, in the form of brand ambassadors to help products reach mass urban consumer bases, who also show demand for clean, authentic, rural products. Local youth, 17-25, can nominate products from their villages that would do well in urban centres, functioning as intermediaries and themselves earning a supplementary income.
One of the biggest challenges to the agricultural sector, according to the agricultural engineers behind CROPSA, is the lack of services, including lack of access to the most advanced methods and technologies. CROPSA is a holistic online agricultural marketplace that aims to close the gap, attempting to cater to a 177,000 market size.
Masr El Nas is an online marketplace increasing accessibility for craftspeople and vendors of heritage products, with a focus on the story behind individual artists and their creations. To date, it claims to have 40,000 active users.
Geared towards the economic empowerment of women, Freeziana is a platform for handmade products that also provides workshops and an augmented reality marketing experience. In the past 2.5 years, Freeziana claims to have hosted 3350 suppliers and facilitated 29,000 sales.
Ftrina markets themselves as a service provider, and not just a marketplace, empowering local car accessory vendors, wholesalers, electronic appliance vendors, and the like. It aims to enable online processes for vendors without the need for programming skill, providing them with an easy-to-use manual to guide them through the process. It also provides a photography service to vendors, to increase their marketing potential.
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