From 500 Startups coming to Africa, to Injaz’s upcoming incubation cycle, to the geeky Maker Hackathon, these 8 opportunities set the scene for an exciting 2017.
It’s only been 23 days since the year started and Egypt’s entrepreneurial scene is as restless as ever. Following an energetic end to 2016, with the Riseup Summit hosting the region's coolest entrepreneurial gigs, 2017 kicked off with some promising programmes. As Algebra Ventures secured a new massive $50 million fund for entrepreneurs and Alexandria’s first Angel Investors network set off to inject some new capital in the Mediterranean scene, it seems that Egypt is only gaining momentum in the growth of the startup ecosystem. Amidst this ever-expanding scene, it can be rather difficult for enthusiastic new entrepreneurs-to-be to find their feet at first. So here’s a list of useful resources for young people hatching big ideas:
1. INJAZ's Startup Egypt: The non-profit has just opened the latest round of applications for their intensive incubation program, Startup Egypt. The program is comprised of a series of challenges that aim at getting promising startups ready for growth and further investment. By the end of the program, each startup would have a registered enterprise, receive seed funding of up to EGP 120,000, and gain exposure to a network of mentors and investors. The programme is now accepting applications until January 29th, which are open to teams consisting of 2-5 individuals, between the ages of 21 and 30. To apply, visit the programme's website.
2. Flat6Labs: After having just received a massive $2 million fund from The International Finance Corporation in December, the Flat6Labs Accelerator Program has now opened a call for applications for their current cycle. Formally operating all across the Middle East, Flat6Labs Cairo selects 8-10 teams from Egypt to join their support programme, designed to encourage entrepreneurs through the first steps of development. They provide each team with seed funding of up to EGP 250,000, strategic mentorship, an office-space, additional perks and services from partners ($300,000+), and focused workshops. The programme runs every four months and works with an open deadline. Applications can be sent through their website.
3. Enpact: Based in Berlin, Enpact offers various support initiatives that work to facilitate and strengthen relations between young entrepreneurs from the startup scenes across the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Their startup mentoring programme pools together entrepreneurs from across the MENA region and Europe, to attend workshops and receive mentoring. Emphasis is placed on ‘horizontal learning’, the exchange of experience and relationship building within the Enpact community. Their next round is expected to open later this month.
4. 500 Startups’ Geeks on a Plane: Silicon Valley's giant 500 Startups is offering a chance to explore cross-border opportunities aboard a new Africa and South Africa tour. The accelerator is inviting startups, investors, and executives to connect and learn about the global tech market through investment dinners, conferences and pitching events. The proposed locations so far are Ghana, Johannesburg, and Cape Town. The tours, however, don't come cheap, typically ranging between 12,000 – $15,000 per person, which covers nearly everything - ground transportation, visas, hotels - except flights. The tour dates are March 20 – April 1, 2017. You can find out more about the tour and apply here.
5. TIEC's Entrepreneur Incubation and Acceleration Programmes: Effectively a catalyst to help push innovations and prototypes to the next level, the government-run Technology and Innovation Entrepreneurship Centre offers both an incubation and an acceleration programme. Titled 'Start IT', the incubation programme covers most initial aspects of establishing a startup in the ICT sector, including EGP 120,000 in in-kind services. Mentors and coaches will be helping you navigate your way through legalities, finances, marketing, operations management, branding, and writing business plans, until the final pitch where you will present your ideas before investors. TIEC operates in several locations across Egypt including Smart Village Cairo and Assiut, and also offers virtual incubation. The incubation programme is open for applications until January 31st here, while the acceleration programme closes its deadline for applications on February 7th.
6. Maker Hackathon: Organised by Dimensions Student Organisation, the first competition for hardware in Egypt launches its third year on the 2nd of February 2017. The Hackathon is a three-day workshop aimed at transforming ideas into actual products. It should particularly attract those who already have an idea and a team to work with. However, it's also a good shout for someone that is already an expert in the design and production fields, but hasn't got a specific idea under their belt, as an opportunity to meet and join forces with others. Technical wonders such as laser cutters, Electronic boards (Arduino), and 3D printers will be available onsite, in addition to mentors and industry technicians. Awards at the end of the workshop will be given in the form of financial support offered by the online crowdfunding platform Zoomaal, along with direct financial support from sponsoring companies. The event takes place in Cairo at iTi Channel, Smart Village, and is free of cost. Teams can apply until January 24th here.
7. AMIDEAST's Youth Entrepreneurship Program: In partnership with the Citi Foundation, the organisation has launched an exciting new Youth Entrepreneurship Program, offering applicants six months of entrepreneurial skills training, one year of invaluable coaching and mentorship by industry experts, and an introduction to different sources of funding to make sure they hit the ground running. Participants must already be ready with a developed idea and show evidence of having taken the first steps towards its implementation. The business must consist of 2-5 partners, and business ideas that seek to enact development in the areas of education, agriculture, transportation, health, and environment will be prioritised. The deadline to apply, through their website, is January 31st.
8. The Algebra Fund: The newly launched fund invests technology-enabled startups that are leveraging innovation to create lasting economic value. Seeking "realistic innovators who are not afraid to try" and "well-rounded teams that are capable of diligent execution," the fund focuses primarily on Series A and Series B rounds in Egypt. They don't exclude investments in earlier-stage startups or in other parts of the MENA region. Startups looking for investments can apply by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo: Egypt's Riseup Summit, by @MO4Network's #MO4Productions.