2017 seems to be the year FinTech startups dominate the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, with new promising funds and partnerships involving the private sector, such as Egypt's largest private bank, CIB, who joined forces with the AUC Venture Lab to create the country's first university-based FinTech incubator and accelerator in July 2016.
The two entities came together once again last Tuesday, where five incubated entrepreneurs showcased their products, a result of their FinTech Accelerator programme's first cycle. On stage, vibrant entrepreneurs like Mohamed Sharaf, co-founder of Insanayah, spoke with conviction and a matchless dose of drive. "The past four months with AUC V-Lab were intense, but they allowed us to focus. Learning-by-doing is vital to the process of scaling our venture," he said. His startup, Insanyah, not only involves the FinTech sector, but also embodies a social platform connecting people with millions of charitable organizations in order to donate funds and get involved.
A 12-week programme supporting entrepreneurs to take their business further, the CIB-powered FinTech accelerator aims to give entrepreneurs insights from some of the smartest minds in the industry, and increase the entrepreneurs' impact on the Egyptian economy. “This in fact has been a learning process for us. We did acquire better knowledge and experience of designing a strong, successful accelerator to help FinTech entrepreneurs," said Mohamed El-Sabban, CIB Head of Digital Innovation.
Taking to the stage as well as Osamma Hammad, co-founder of Pochy, Egypt's first social payment application. "Much like the Egyptian traditional gamaeya, where groups of people pay money each month to collect a larger sum, instead of applying for loans and going through endless paperwork, people can easily go online and get the money they need," said Hammad. Other startups pitching on stage included Roznamgy, 7esba, and Neqabty, a mobile and web application that links syndicates with its members, providing comprehensive solutions for people to pay prescriptions, renewals and medical fees.
“Being part of the AUC V- Lab taught me to focus on the business rather than the product. This is critical for any startup, as it helps you channel your efforts and listen to your potential customers," said 7esba's founder Khaled Wagdy. His platform helps flat owners manage and track shared building bills and payments, making the relationship between neighbors easier and friendlier. The fifth startup, Roznamgy, is an online credit-enabling platform aiming to bridge the gap between small companies and financial Institutions, matching credit applicants with lending institutions in a systematic way.
Stressing on the importance of FinTech, AUC V-Lab's director Ayman Ismail referred to the potential it has in transforming the financial services sector towards growth, more inclusion and innovation. "AUC Venture Lab, in partnership with CIB, is taking the lead in growing the pipeline of FinTech startups in Egypt and supporting their growth,” he said.
“The FinTech Accelerator is just the beginning of a long journey, during which we have laid the foundation of an ongoing, genuine collaboration between CIB and the entrepreneurship field," added El Sabban. "This collaboration will lead to promising opportunities, which will boost the productivity of these untapped segments and accelerate the financial inclusion in the Egyptian society.”
Find out more about AUC V-Lab's CIB-powered FinTech Accelerator Programme here.
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