We sat down with Ahmed Shalaby, Tatweer Misr’s President and CEO, at the Tatweer Misr Innovation Competition Pitch Night and he talked to us about the competition, their partnership with the EEA and he gave advice to aspiring Egyptian entrepreneurs.
How do you see the Egyptian entrepreneurship scene now versus when you first started the Tatweer Misr Innovation Competition?
The Egyptian entrepreneurship scene is more developed now than when we first started 6 years ago, at that time no one was talking about finding new innovative ideas.
Right now, I think there is more engagement from the private sector and the government with entrepreneurship, innovation and SMEs. Of course, there should be more engagement from the private sector and the government, but at least there is an existing ecosystem.
We are also now partners with i-events and EEA to create a complete cycle of innovation support in which Tatweer Misr’s role, through innovation competition, is directed at young and early-stage innovators, while EEA caters to later stages of innovation targeting more developed and established entrepreneurs synchronizing our efforts.
What inspired you to launch the Tatweer Misr Innovation Competition and what do you hope to achieve with it?
The beginning was in September 2015 in Gouna at the GEW in TU Berlin, during which we have witnessed many creative ideas presented by youth that are worth materialization, and that was the inspiration behind the kick start of Tatweer Misr innovation competition in 2017, we were looking for ideas that could help in filling the existing gaps in the real estate sector.
Our edge at the Tatweer Misr Innovation Competition is that we work on facilitating the implementation, this is what we are looking for. Our team is already meeting with this round’s first place winner in the start-up track tomorrow morning to discuss how we can work together.
Our main goal for the competition is to find new, innovative ideas for implementation within our developments or within the real estate sector at large.
What do you think startups and entrepreneurs need the most?
Mentorship is really important, and this is what I love actually about Tatweer Misr Innovation Competition and EEA as well, since both platforms give a huge deal of mentorship to the entrepreneurs.
I think entrepreneurship education is also important, there is an education part to this field that needs to be fulfilled. We are developing an educational zone entailing schools and an international branch campus in our project Bloomfields in Mostakbal City, New Cairo which will host Egypt’s first American Branch Campus of New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) and we are working on having entrepreneurship as part of the educational curriculums, whether in engineering, IT or informatics.
As for the K-12 schools represented in King’s College London and Narmer American Schools, we also aspire to see entrepreneurship as part of that.
So, I think education and mentorship are the two elements that are seen as crucial for the enhancement of our new generations of entrepreneurs.
What inspired you while listening to the competitors pitching their ideas and what is your advice for the winners?
Always stay innovative! Keep developing yourselves and challenge yourselves to push your boundaries. you should continue to explore with companies like ourselves and others how to transform your ideas into realities.
Tonight, I encouraged a few of our contestants to apply to the EEA awards next year as I find some of the startups already eligible for the awards.
What’s your advice for the Egyptian Entrepreneurs that you deal with all the time?
In your 20s – learn and experiment a lot and work in different fields, you have to really challenge yourself and experience different sectors, in your 30s – focus on the path that you became passionate about and embrace growth. In your 40s – start your own business based on the knowledge and experiences that have equipped you to work and be successful and in your 50s – share your knowledge and experience and this is what I am trying to do through the competition, The EEA and everything that we participate in.
You have to really focus on learning and gaining experience at a young age. After this you can go on to start your own business, unless you have a really creative idea and can get people who have experience to help you execute at an earlier stage.
Read more: Egypt’s Entrepreneur Awards announces the shortlisted finalists of its second edition
If you see something out of place or would like to contribute to this story, check out our Ethics and Policy section.