Startup Guide Cairo: how this city is a leading hub for mobility and fintech entrepreneurs

The Startup Guide series of books, introduced in 2014 by Copenhagen-based publisher Sissel Hansen, covers over 20 cities such as London, Stockholm, Lisbon, and Miami. See our evaluations of the manuals for Berlin, Munich, Zurich , Johannesburg , Singapore, New York, and Paris.


Startup Guide Cairo is spread out throughout 200 pages and produces a amusing and helpful read, with profiles of creators, co-working areas, financiers, instructional programs, and other environment gamers.

The Egyptian capital is likewise a progressing start-up center buzzing with vibrant energy, Sissel starts. It has actually been ranked as one of the more appealing cities in the Middle East and North African (MENA) area for foreign financial investment and tech start-ups. It has a low expense of living and a huge population of youths excited to end up being business owners.

Cairo is house to 3 of the leading 8 African universities. &#x 201C; It has among the most tech-savvy neighborhoods in the continent, and every year, more than 250,000 trainees graduate from universities in Cairo, a minimum of 25,000 of them with an innovation background, &#x 201D; describes Khaled Ismail, Chairman of HIMangel.

The RiseUp Summit has actually been kept in Cairo because 2013. Numerous start-up exits have actually made the news, such as Sysdsoft (offered to Intel) and Fawry (offered to a consortium of financiers). Scale-stage start-ups that have actually just recently raised funds consist of Fawry (e-payment network), Swvl (bus-booking app), Wuzzaf, and Yaoota.

 1 Overview

The book starts with an introduction of Cairo &#x 2019; s truths and requirements, such as ease of operating (governmental), tax accounting (complex), expense of living (fits any spending plan), Internet speeds (reasonably sluggish), environment (dirty), individuals (congenial and generous), punctuality (&#x 201C; #x &wear 2019; t get upset if someone &#x 2019; s late &#x 201D;-RRB-, traffic (heavy), driving (not for the faint-hearted), ride-sharing (by means of Uber or Careem), and hip areas (Zamalek, Maadi, Garden City).

Egypt has a population of 97.5 million, roughly 60 percent of whom are listed below the age of 30. The Greater Cairo city has a population of over 20 million. Cairo is not just the capital of Egypt however likewise its cultural center.

According to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, Egypt ranks in the leading 7 nations on the planet in holding entrepreneurship in high regard as a profession option with high social status. Around 55 percent of Egyptians suggest an interest in beginning a company in the coming 3 years – two times the worldwide average.

The leading 4 cities in Enpact DataLab &#x 2019; s Startup Friendliness Index for MENA are Amman, Tunis, Beirut, and Cairo. There were almost 50 percent more start-ups in 2018 and numerous brand-new high-equity success cases given that 2017.

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One area of the book profiles 10 start-ups based in Cairo. They consist of MerMaid (on-demand cleaning company with a high requirement for cleaners and clients) and PayMe (an online-payment tool for SMBs).

XPay makes it possible for clubs and academic neighborhoods to gather charges and handle subscriptions in a simple way. 7aweshly is a micro-saving mobile app targeting unbanked populations. Users can transfer funds from Pharmacies, atms or grocery stores.

Bassita is a crowdfunding website (&#x 2018; clickfunding &#x 2019;-RRB- for social causes. It worked with UNICEF on a project to fund water for Egyptian houses.

Weelo is a cloud-based market serving consumers, grocery stores and their providers. By digitalising the supply chain, it offers real-time stock updates for much better customer care and fulfillment.

Chefaa is an app, which links clients with a network of drug stores to ensure individuals have simple access to their repeating medications. Faggala is an e-commerce platform for stationery product or services. Schools can submit personalized profiles to assist moms and dads with purchases and book booking.

MayDay offers real-time, safe roadside help to vehicle drivers in requirement, with a broad network of service suppliers. There is 24×7 assistance and a transparent payment procedure. There are supposedly around 5 million automobiles in Egypt and the capacity for around 300,000 breakdowns yearly.

Wasel is an intercity travel start-up that permits users to book shared or personal car transfers. It links tourists in Cairo, Beni Suef, Minya, and Assuit.

The above start-ups taken advantage of programs such as TIEC &#x 2019; s incubator, Microsoft for Startups, StartEgypt grants, and C3 Social Impact Accelerator in Dubai. A few of them likewise included in Digest Africa &#x 2019; s NEXT50 list of African start-ups.

 2 Startup environment

Two areas of the book profile the support group for start-ups, varying from co-working areas to programs at accelerators and incubators. Venture Egypt is led by business owners devoted to assisting scaleups. It likewise provides the Endeavor Catalyst effect fund, and connections to regional, local, and worldwide financiers.

The American University in Cairo (AUC) has actually hosted the AUC Venture Lab (V-Lab) given that 2013. It runs a basic accelerator program in addition to an unique one for fintechs. There are training, mentoring, and co-working centers. V-Lab runs 2 four-month cycles each year and supplies zero-equity seed capital to start-ups upon conclusion.

Falak Startups, Egypt &#x 2019; s biggest start-up accelerator, supports early-stage start-up creators through a six-month velocity program culminating in a Demo Day. It uses financing of one million Egyptian Pounds ($ 58,000) to picked start-ups with a convenient model.

Flat 6Labs has actually moneyed more than 100 start-ups because it released in 2011. It was established by Sawari Ventures in collaboration with AUC. It uses preliminary financing of $44,000, with follow-on financial investment of approximately $120,000.

The Founder Institute, the world &#x 2019; s biggest pre-seed start-up accelerator, uses a 14-week program in Cairo. Through its Equity Collective, coaches can end up being financiers to finish business. The program is extensive; less than 30 percent of accepted creators total it.

The MINT Incubator runs a three-month program developed for business owners at the MVP phase, and is backed by EGBANK. It has actually partnered with Cairo Angels for development chances.

Nahdet El Mahrousa (indicating &#x 2018; Renaissance of Egypt &#x 2019;-RRB- has actually nurtured more than 150 social business in a large range of sectors. The program lasts for one to 2 years, in sectors like renewables, waste management, imaginative markets, civic engagement, and social effect.

The Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Centre (TIEC) was introduced in 2010. It runs efforts like InnovEgypt, the TIEC Entrepreneurship Accelerator (TEA) program, StartIT organisation strategy competitors, Startup Support program for growth-stage start-ups, and EgyptInnovate platform to link innovators.

Cairo has a large range of co-working areas too, such as AlMaqarr (established in 2012) and Startup Haus Cairo (established by Enpact). Opened in 2017, Ideaspace likewise has a fabrication laboratory for prototyping.

District Spaces, established in 2011 by serial business owner Mazen Helmy, was the very first co-working area in Egypt. It hosts cultural and expert occasions, from skill-building workshops to independent film screenings and stand-up funny nights.

Founded in 2013, the GrEEK Campus lies simply off Tahrir Square in what was initially 2 Greek schools. It consists of an outside amphitheatre and a roof garden. With the slogan of &#x 2018; link, work together, and co-create, &#x 2019; it likewise hosts Uber &#x 2019; s Egyptian group.

KMT House, established in 2017, was created as a city tech area. Co-founder and CEO Mazen Helmy states that &#x 201C; development can improve a city to be more dynamic and habitable &#x 201D;. The area consists of an incubator for city tech services, and the roof garden is utilized as a demonstration laboratory for city farming, composting and water recycling options.

This area likewise profiles the &#x 2018; face of the area &#x 2019; of a few of these organisations. Moustafa Khater of the GrEEK Campus previously constructed 183 schools for women throughout Egypt, and was a director at the Flat6Labs accelerator in Cairo.

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One area of the book supplies specialist pointers from accelerators and start-up consultancies in the city. The guidance covers product-market fit, consumer engagement, skill, sustainability, and marketing.

&#x 201C; You need to comprehend how you &#x 2019; re going to monetise your company, specifically with individuals tending towards freemium or complimentary services in emerging markets, &#x 201D; encourages Ramy Taha, Head of Digital Banking and Marketing at ALEXBANK.

Only about 30 percent of the adult population in Egypt utilizes savings account, so there is a great deal of chance for fintech start-ups. &#x 201C; Without a strong client experience, you &#x 2019; re not going to have the ability to get your item off the ground. Today, you &#x 2019; re not simply taking on other banking or monetary options. You &#x 2019; re completing versus every other application on your gadget, &#x 201D; Ramy warns.

&#x 201C; Founders tend to depend upon various consultants and specialists as they grow, and usually these pieces of guidance aren &#x 2019; t constantly lined up with each other, which can trigger confusion instead of be an aid to the business owner, &#x 201D; observes Waseem Arsany, Business Development Partner at Benchmark Consultancy, and Managing Director of B-Hub coworking areas.

&#x 201C; Making and making an effect cash doesn &#x 2019; t need to be equally special, &#x 201D; states Wessam El Beih, Country Director of Zurich-headquartered Drosos Foundation in Egypt. &#x 201C; A huge job at the start of your entrepreneurial journey is inducing inspired individuals who can relate to your objective &#x 2013; on a small budget plan, &#x 201D; she describes.

Dalia Abd-Allah, Head of Business Innovation at the Egyptian-German Promotion of SMEs (a GIZ effort), warns that it takes some time to develop a sustainable and effective start-up. &#x 201C; Being client is genuinely a virtue, &#x 201D; she includes. The effort supports start-ups in renewable resource, watering, sanitation, and waste management. Dalia thinks that tactical cooperations can likewise be important for start-ups.

 3 Founder suggestions

One area of the book interviews creators of 4 start-ups, tracing their entrepreneurial journeys, guidance got, lessons discovered, and pointers for the next wave of striving business owners.

KarmSolar is a solar innovation and combination business that establishes services for tourist, farming, and market. Ahmed Zahran, Founder and CEO, earlier operated in Tunisia and the UK.

&#x 201C; Focus on customers that will allow you to scale and take more threats. Those are the customers that are going to include worth to you, &#x 201D; he encourages striving business owners. &#x 201C; If you comprehend human rewards, you can include worth for all stakeholders, &#x 201D; he includes.

Companies need to likewise have an efficient understanding sharing practice. &#x 201C; A business needs to focus more on the understanding it has actually collected, on the group characteristics within a strong organization, and on the memory that permits that understanding to be moved from a single person to the other, &#x 201D; Ahmed recommends.

Being based in Cairo has its benefits and obstacles for business owners. &#x 201C; That problem or tension placed on you by the city is really fascinating due to the fact that it teaches you to be sustainable and durable really rapidly, &#x 201D; he observes.

Husband-wife duo Karim Elsahy and Abeer Elsisi established travel services chat platform Elves. It supplies users with customised travel assist with looking into or altering flights travel locations. They previously established a call centre and VC fund Genius.VC (obtained by Sawari Ventures).

&#x 201C; In Egypt, there are not a great deal of financiers, and we wound up needing to raise $2.5 million in seed simply from angels, &#x 201D; Karim remembers. &#x 201C; We made some errors in ignoring the time it requires to develop something, &#x 201D; he includes. He encourages creators to concentrate on speed and model to establish the best item.

&#x 201C; I constantly think that if you make it in Cairo, you &#x 2019; ll make it anywhere, &#x 201D; Abeer describes. She recommends creators to be extremely clear in their organisation relationships about their aspirations and expectations. &#x 201C; Transparency is really essential, &#x 201D; she stresses.

Samira Negm, CEO and Founder of social carpooling app Raye7, very first worked as a software application engineer and took a trip in between Egypt and Germany. &#x 201C; Being a business owner was a tool, not an objective, &#x 201D; she describes, explaining her app, which utilizes social networks such as LinkedIn to construct trust in between users and share locations.

Many individuals are stuck in traffic for 3 to 5 hours daily. Resident awareness and culture modification were crucial difficulties for the adoption of carpooling. Her more youthful sibling deals with and is a co-founder PR and marketing in this regard.

&#x 201C; My finest choice is when I began to hire individuals not for their technical abilities however for their characters and fit, &#x 201D; Samira discusses. &#x 201C; Even if you have a strong innovation or a strong concept, it &#x 2019; s not going to suffice without the best group, &#x 201D; she includes.

Samira likewise recommends individuals to work for another start-up prior to establishing their own. &#x 201C; There &#x 2019; s no other experience in life that &#x 2019; s comparable to the experience of establishing a start-up, &#x 201D; she describes.

The regional start-up environment is still growing. &#x 201C; In Egypt, the skill swimming pool that has actually operated in start-ups is not that huge and there are very few senior start-ups that have actually left and can provide guidance from their own experience, &#x 201D; Samira includes.

Sherif ElRakabawy was a scholastic prior to ending up being the co-founder and CEO of e-commerce contrast engine Yaoota. Customers can discover, compare and acquire the ideal items from a variety of merchants.

&#x 201C; We handled to raise capital from a UAE-based financier in 2015, &#x 201D; Sherif remembers. There are extremely couple of financiers happy to put cash into a nation that is financially and politically unsteady, he observes. He sees big chance for start-ups as digitalisation of Egypt &#x 2019; s economy is in its early phases.

Sherif likewise warns creators to be gotten ready for a high possibility of failure. &#x 201C; Try to begin as early as you can, since the chance expenses for whatever are much lower when you &#x 2019; re more youthful. It gets more difficult to begin a business when you need to leave a steady wage, &#x 201D; he encourages.

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One area of the book explains academic and skilling assistance for business owners in Cairo. AlMakinah is a shows bootcamp with courses varying from one month to a complete year (called FireUp).

Situated within the American University in Cairo (AUC) in Egypt, the AUC School of Business uses a variety of courses in entrepreneurship. &#x 201C; We form our trainees into accountable leaders that can develop worth and have an influence on whatever they do any place they go. Most significantly, they stay trainees for life, making their life a mission for constant enhancement, &#x 201D; states Dean Sherif Kamel.


The last area of the book profiles active financiers and their start-up portfolios, together with suggestions for business owners. Cairo Angels, established in 2012, is Egypt &#x 2019; s initially official angel financial investment network, with chapters in London and Dubai. It invests in between 250,000 EGP ($ 14,500) and 2 million EGP ($ 116,500) per start-up.

Cairo-based VC company Algebra Ventures released operations in 2016, raising $50 million and making it Egypt &#x 2019; s biggest tech start-up fund to date. It has actually purchased early-stage start-ups such as Trella, Elmenus, Dsquares, Halan, Eventtus, GoodsMart, Brimore, FilKhedma, and iCommunity. The fund normally invests in between $500,000 and $2 million per start-up.

&#x 201C; We like huge markets; the bigger and faster-growing, the much better. They should be both defensible and available, &#x 201D; describes Tarek Assaad, among the supervisors of the fund. The business owners need to have distinct viewpoints on the marketplaces they serve, and have the ability to draw in top-tier skill.

Delta Inspire for Investment is a financial investment management company constructed by investors and business owners. Its efforts consist of 138 Pyramids (advancement financing), Delta Inspire Board (market veterans), Delta Inspire Mentors Network (market executives dealing with start-up technique and operations), and the Delta Inspire Angel Network.

EdVentures is an equity capital company powered by the Nahdet Misr Publishing Group. Its start-ups remain in the sectors of education and culture, and consist of Entreprenelle (redressing the gender wage space), Career 180 (career-services site), and Books Bike (portable book shop to make finding out more available).


Founded in 2016, Endure Capital is a seed-stage VC that purchases worldwide and regional start-ups. Investments variety from $50,000 approximately $1 million. Portfolio start-ups consist of Boom Supersonic (supersonic airplane) and Aspect BioSystems (3D bio-printing). It was likewise an early financier in Careem, which ended up being the MENA area &#x 2019; s initially unicorn exit (gotten by Uber).

HIMangel intends to offer start-ups with mentorship, organisation structure, and connection with stakeholders. Its typical ticket is $100,000 for a minority stake. It was released by Khaled Ismail, previous senior consultant to the Egyptian Minister of ICT.

It has actually bought Fustany, Cubii, Rology Biodiesel Misr, and GBarena. &#x 201C; Demonstrate an enthusiastic mindset. Your method to the chance ahead ought to consist of adequate interest to encourage others of the worth of your endeavour and to develop an effective company, &#x 201D; Khaled recommends.

Kamelizer is an angel financial investment studio supplying funds and proficiency to tech-enabled Egyptian start-ups. Established by Hanan Meguid, it concerns tech as a crucial need to scale start-ups.

The book ends with a directory site of beneficial resources for start-ups, such as conferences and meetup websites for business owners. These consist of RiseUp Summit, Creative Industry Summit, Egypt Career Summit, and Cairo Maker Faire.

To summarize, the book offers useful and helpful insights into Cairo &#x 2019; s start-up community, and acts as a helpful structure for other cities to assess and enhance their own start-up environments.

( Edited by Saheli Sen Gupta)

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