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Meet the 7 Egyptian Entrepreneurs Hitting the Global Entrepreneurship Summit This Week

Last year, Egyptian lady boss Mai Medhat made waves as she got on stage alongside Barack Obama for GES 2016. This year, not one but 7 entrepreneurs made it to the global event. Check them out.

Last year, as Barack Obama presided the Global Entrepreneurship Summit at Stanford University in the US, the world turned its eyes to Egypt, as the female entrepreneur behind Eventtus Mai Medhat took to the global stage alongside the former US President. This year, as the summit gears up to begin in Hyderabad, India, today, not one but seven Egyptian entrepreneurs are representing the country of Pharaohs on the global stage.

Co-hosted by the United States and India, the summit this years runs under the theme “Women First, Prosperity for All,” in an effort to elevate female entrepreneurship globally. Aspiring to have women make up at least 50 percent of entrepreneur and investor attendees, the GES 2017 targets four main industries: energy and infrastructure, financial technology and digital commerce, health and life sciences; and media and entertainment. The summit will host 1,500 attendees, including 1,200 entrepreneurs and 300 investors. Throughout two and a half days of dynamic discussions and conversations, training, a pitch competition, and mentoring, the United States and India seek to forge new collaborations and launch new initiatives, while seeking to reduce the barriers inhibiting international growth and innovation. Amongst the 400 entrepreneurs representing non-Indian and non-American ecosystems, these are the 7 Egyptian participants the US Embassy in Cairo selected for the summit this year.

Amira Azzouz, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Fustany

One of the most daring female bosses in Egypt, Azzouz created on of the leading fashion and lifestyle portals for Arab women, launched in 2009, just as she was attending her year in college as a Telecommunication Engineering student. With a solid presence across the Arab world and 1.5 million monthly visitors, Azzouz aims to inspire women to live a life full of creativity. She is very keen on shedding the light on issues related to women empowerment and has worked closely to create awareness about breast cancer, ovarian cancer and violence against women through various campaigns in the Middle East.

Sherin Ewase, co-founder and managing director of Led Cube

With more than 12 years working in the field of human resources and talent acquisition, sourcing and branding with customer service, sales, marketing, administration, PR, communication and events, the Alexandrian entrepreneur has worked with both national and multinational organisations, including Careem, Professional IT Solutions, Maridive, and Sutherland Global Services.

In November 2015, Sherin joined Careem Egypt and launched Careem Alexandria, which she considers her first success as a businesswoman. Sherin has been actively involved in Alexandria’s entrepreneurship ecosystem by participating as a keynote speaker in many of the events and workshops related to entrepreneurship and Global Entrepreneurship Week. Her other successes within the entrepreneurship field in Alexandria include co-founding local companies, and mentoring startups such as Entreprenelle and Tawsila.

Dina El-Mofty​, CEO of Injaz Egypt

Dina El Mofty began exploring routes to bolster youth development in her twenties, when she founded Injaz Egypt, a volunteer-based educational programme - part of the Junior Achievement worldwide network - that prepares Egyptian youth to start their own businesses. Today, after 13 years struggling against bureaucracy, partnering with schools, and involving the private sector, her organisation has made an impact in the lives of over 500,000 young students across Egypt, from Qena to Damietta.

Injaz works in partnership with schools and universities across Egypt, and has helped impact more than half a million young people through its entrepreneurial and work readiness programmes, having seed funded and supported over 50 successful startup businesses over the past five years. 

Nominated as one of the world’s most influential young Arabs under 40 by Arabian Business for 2016, Dina has recently founded Inspo, a company focused on delivering leading global programmes on personal and professional development in Egypt and the Middle East. She is also actively involved with the American Chamber of Commerce as the co-chair of the Women in Business Committee, and is a member of the US-Egypt Business Council. 

Chris Khalifa, Founder of Zooba

Khalifa is the mastermind behind Zooba, the first restaurant chain to give classic Egyptian street foods a gourmet twist, a concept delivered through a social dining atmosphere designed to appeal to Egyptians’ shared sense of community. Having always been passionate about food, Khalifa could not come to terms with Egypt’s struggle to make its traditional food relevant and trendy; today, his offspring Zooba has reinvigorated national pride in local cuisine and culture.

After graduating from Boston University in 2005, Chris went on to climb the ranks at EFG-Hermes, a boutique investment bank. However, in 2009 he decided to try his luck at the food industry. Against the odds, and with little infrastructure left in Egypt after much political upheaval, Chris managed to partner with a Certified Executive Chef and create a modern, health conscious, version of Egyptian street food. The restaurants are housed in a mix of vintage and contemporary Middle Eastern design, with top-notch service, to produce a homey dining experience.

Rania Ayman, CEO and Founder of Entreprenelle

At 25, and in less than a year since founding her startup, Entreprenelle, Rania Ayman has hosted more than 70 workshops and five mega events across Egyptian governorates, in a mission to democratise the entrepreneurial ecosystem and empower women by connecting women with resources to become entrepreneurs - in Arabic.  “I used to focus on event management for startups, and I would always see that out of 60 attendees, only two or three were women - one of them, usually, was the host. I realised women are not aware of the resources to launch business, so they are not encouraged to do it,” she explained in an interview with Startup Scene ME.

A winner of the Injaz entrepreneurship prize and a member of AWID (Association for Women’s Rights in Development), Ayman is also a Global Shaper and has reached over 3,000 Egyptian women through her inspirational events. Entreprenelle’s Facebook page has more than 200,000 followers and their data base has more than 18,000 subscribers to their newsletter.

Her flagship event, “She Can”, provides attendees with inspiring success stories from female entrepreneurs who proved that “They Can,” despite facing lots of challenges & failures, ups and downs. The event also includes speed mentoring from professional experienced mentors in the business field, who give advice in addition to many creative ideas, and show them how to improve their business. The event ends with a panel discussion amongst entrepreneurs. Her last event, held in Cairo in July, was attended by more than 300 women from different governorates. 

Tarek El Kady, founder of Techne Summit and Alexandria Angels

An architect by profession, El Kady’s first startup was a digital web design agency which started small and ballooned into a company serving multinational clients. "I started the company in 2003 and we grew fast. We had been doing events for different clients past 7-8 years, and we got to organise a tech event as an agency, but we thought about taking it further. Let’s get all these startups working in technology, all the experts who know everything about technology, let’s get the government involved, the universities and put everyone together to see what comes out of that,” he said in an interview with Startup Scene ME.

The offspring of that initial idea, his Alexandria-based conference, Techne Summit, shifted the focus of startup conferences in the region, not only by focusing on the MENA's overlooked Mediterranean essence but also democratising the Egyptian ecosystem in Egypt's most remote corners through the year-round Techne Drifts roadshow. A serial entrepreneur, he launched WebArchitect, Markade, and Cactus, until he formed KD Group, which manages the operations of the three agencies and their clients which are local, regional and global. 

In 2015, Tarek shook up the technology world by hosting two episodes of Techne Summit in Alexandria, and later spearheaded the launch of “Alexandria Angels,” the first Alexandria -based Angel investment network. Consisting of a select group of founding members, all experienced in business and enthusiastic about entrepreneurship in Alexandria, the newly established network seeks to invest in promising, high-growth startups in Alexandria and the Nile delta region from mid-2018 onwards. 

In February 2017, Tarek launched the first of its kind nation-wide annual roadshow to empower entrepreneurs all over Egypt called “Techne Drifts,” taking on the cities of Assiut, Sohag and Aswan in Upper Egypt, followed by the Nile Delta, Suez and Port-Said. El Kady is passionate about helping young people start their businesses. As Founding Curator of the Global Shapers Community Alexandria hub, he spends much of his time giving to the next generation of business owners in the region.

Mostafa Hassanen, Founder of Agrimaticfarms

Hassanein startup, Agrimatic, addresses some of Egypt’s most pressing challenges such as limited fertile land, water scarcity and slow agricultural development, through tailoring unique system designs based on research and experimentation to provide integrated solutions capable of converting any terrain into a highly efficient and productive agricultural land. They are using soil-less technologies on a commercial scale.  They just won the first prize at the regional round of the Berlin-based International Science Conference, titled Falling Walls Competition.

Photos by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.

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