The Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit (EES) 2018, organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) in partnership with ICSB and many other partners hosted in Luxor, Egypt, just concluded its fourth year. Over 300 delegates attended the 2018 EES conference. Since its inception in 2015, EES has grown substantially in size and scope. The EES was the prime highlight of Egypt’s Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) celebrations in 2018.
This year’s EES gathered cutting-edge thinkers, practitioners, and policymakers, to review together the state of entrepreneurship in Egypt. Minister Sahar Nasr, the Egyptian Minister of Investment and International Cooperation, inaugurated the conference with a speech focused on the importance of SMEs in building a vibrant and robust entrepreneurial ecosystem. Minister Sahar also announced the hosting of the 64th ICSB World Congress to be hosted in Cairo from June 18-21. ILO Officer in Charge Eric Oechslin welcomed participants and focused on ILO’s work in the field of Decent Jobs for Youth. Incoming ICSB President, Ahmed Osman, announced exciting initiatives underway in collaboration with many partners in the Egyptian Entrepreneurship Ecosystem as well as the plans in preparation of the ICSB World Congress in Cairo in June 2019. MCSBE President, Amr Abouelazm, welcomed the many delegates for EES and presented a brief overview of the current MCSBE initiatives and the new plans in preparation.
Experts from many fields, including but not limited to, SME leaders, corporations, academics, government officials and policy makers, entrepreneurs, youth, entrepreneurship supporting organizations such as incubators, accelerators and educational- and training institutions came together to discuss barriers and celebrate innovative successes. EES 2018 overarching theme “Bridging the Gap: International and National Best Practices”.
The EES Summit featured four distinct themes: women entrepreneurs, youth, inclusion and ecosystem development. EES 2018 offered breakout sessions on (i) Education Innovation, looking at development needs from technical to higher level education, (ii) Financial Technology, by far the largest driver of innovation challenging old business models and Digital Economy to enhance inclusiveness and innovation (iii) the Youth Entrepreneurship Academy, where young entrepreneurs and scholars can present their papers and receive feedback and advice from renowned researchers in their field.
One of the main highlights of the EES Summit was the Nawah Competition. The fourth year in a row ILO, MCSBE, USAID, GIZ, EU TVET, the Egyptian Innovation Award for Social Entrepreneurship Competition for innovative business plans that can impact Egyptian society and drive business growth. Nawah is supported by many partners and is sponsored by Tatweer Misr, an ICSB Global Partner and the Egyptian fast growing real estate development company.
Nawah’s Social Entrepreneurship Challenge objective is to contribute to a flourishing, collaborative and conscious entrepreneurship ecosystem by empowering young entrepreneurs, to develop their skills, capabilities and expand their network and resources. The competition was a great opportunity for young entrepreneurs to compete in a country-wide challenge, to showcase their business idea that covers one of the following sustainability, social problem-solving ability (impact) and innovation.
Almost 980 submissions were received from all over Egypt and over 30 finalists representing many governorates of Egypt were invited to EES to compete for seed funding and partnership opportunities. The ending of EES saw the Nawah finalists pitching their ideas to a very loud, supportive audience that filled the auditorium to a standing room only.
The Egypt Entrepreneurship Summit (EES) 2018 in Luxor was significant in contributing to the current global dialog on how to support SMEs. This edition reinforced the importance of the ecosystem but added key elements such as youth, inclusion, women entrepreneurs and the underlying theme of Humane Entrepreneurship that was discussed globally in S. Korea, Indonesia, Italy, France, and the United States.
EES recognized individuals and organizations for their outstanding contribution to the Egyptian and global entrepreneurial ecosystems. These recipients of the awards presented by ICSB were:
• Ms. Eman Omran, Senior Development Office at the Embassy of Canada to Egypt
• ILO Decent Jobs for Egyptian Young People- collected by Ms. Amal Mowafy- Chief Technical Advisor
• Oh Joon, Former Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations and ECOSOC President
• Dr. Nabil Shalaby, Founder, Arab Entrpeneur House, For Egyptian Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Infograph
• AISEC Student Movement
The Valley of the Kings and Queens is still as relevant as before. This time, the significance is in the power of SMEs and Entrepreneurship to change the world.