A guest of the International Labor Organization (ILO), I had the opportunity to attend a series of workshops, panels, and festivities this week all taking place as part of Global Entrepreneurship Week Egypt’s 2018 Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit. This event, co-hosted by the Middle East Council for Small Business, went above and beyond in putting together a program that brought policy makers, entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurship educators together for meaningful dialogue on how to continue to improve and connect Egypt’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
One of the most exciting initiatives I noticed while attending was the ILO’s Decent Jobs for Egypt’s Young People program which, among other things, promotes enterprise development and self-employment for youth aged 15–29. At the summit I had the privilege to meet many young aspiring Egyptian entrepreneurs, and I’d be remised if I didn’t take a few moments to share the amazing work three of them are doing.
First, meet Eman Hamada, co-founder of Solar Clue. Eman immediately stood out as one of the most impressive people in a bustling room of aspiring entrepreneurs. Her product, Solar Cue, is a low-cost solar-powered station to charge electronic devices. Eman aims to provide easier access for people in rural areas who are living with limited or no access to power to charge their devices. Access to the internet, SMS texting, and cellular service is a powerful weapon in the fight against poverty given it can help people connect to a global marketplace and facilitate trade. Yet, in some parts of the world, despite devices existing, keeping them powered is a constant challenge and tedious chore.
Next, meet Hesham Mohamed, CEO of Lo2ma, a startup focused on smart home appliances. Their marquee product is a smart wall socket that allows users to automate connected appliances remotely via a user-friendly mobile app. Hesham noted that almost every Egyptian household faces three challenges: continually increasing electricity costs, keeping children safe while operating things connected to electricity, and knowing how to effectively manage your electricity. Lo2ma provides a solution to these challenges by allowing users to not only understand and optimize their electricity usage, but also by enabling everything to be controlled via a child-friendly mobile application.
Last, meet Belal Ismail, Co-fouder of BionicLimbs, a R&D company specializing in development of low-cost, customized prosthetic limbs. Belal notes that there are over 300,000 hand amputees in Egypt, a number that rises to 2.4 million when you look at Central Africa as a whole. BionicLimbs produces simple and functional hand prosthetics that are medically tested and backed by leading hand surgeons. The 2018 year has been focused on finishing clinical trials on their hand prosthetic for a January 2019 product launch. In 2019 they are also beginning clinical trials on a foot prosthetic which they aim to bring to the market in early 2020.
Overall, I walked away impressed by the energy, optimism, and perseverance of all the young entrepreneurs in the room. The entrepreneurial spirit was very much present at the 2018 Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit and I’m excited to see what the future holds for these three incredible young entrepreneurs.