The StartUp Manifesto, Egypt’s first comprehensive documentation of the challenges facing the entrepreneurship ecosystem, is now launched and available online. An initiative powered by RiseUp, the Manifesto tackles the most pressing issues ranging from access to data, access to funding, the talent brain drain out of Egypt, investment opportunities and policies and regulatory requirements. Launched ahead of the 6th annual Riseup Summit, the Start-Up Manifesto is a reflection of this year’s theme “Aim High, Stay Grounded”, because, according to the team behind it, it “captures the realities on the ground and suggests solutions that can really make a difference.”

A group of nearly 200 stakeholders with expertise in venture capital, building companies, legal frameworks, public policy, education, talent management, accelerators, incubators and many more, met and collaborated over the past 12 months, to contribute to the Manifesto.

According the StartUp Manifesto website: “As part of its mission, RiseUp initiated the Startup Manifesto project as a catalyst for change. The Manifesto, outlines current challenges and proposing concrete solutions, aims at improving the current entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt. It targets to increase ecosystem readiness for fostering entrepreneurship, thereby gearing the ecosystem towards its full potential. The Manifesto is developed by the ecosystem for the ecosystem. Through interviews with various stakeholder groups and several review sessions, we constructed a Manifesto that portrays the ecosystem’s real challenges. The Manifesto does not stop at offering solutions. Instead, it needs to be understood as the foundational document based on which a collective action reform movement towards ecosystem improvement is initiated.”

At a launch event held last night at the Manasterly Palace, entrepreneurs, investors and other ecosystem players gathered to get a preview of the main topics covered by the document. In an opening address, Aliaa Abd ElAziz, Start-Up Manifesto said:”These past 18 months the ecosystem came together in meetups, workshops and engaged in conversations to create The Startup Manifesto – a step towards the roadmap for change. Today, we want to transform our ambitious discussions into real actions that will create the impact we’re all trying to achieve.”

In the opening panel, entitled “Towards a Robust Start-Up Ecosystem through Policy Shaping” leading business executives and policy makers discussed legal and regulatory challenges for start-ups.  These included Abdelhameed Sharara, Co Founder and CEO of RiseUp, Nermine EL Tahri, General Manager of Banking Reforms at the Central Bank of Egypt, Neveen Gamea, CEO of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises Development Agency (MSMEDA) and Mohamed Farid, Chairman of the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

“The role of the government is an enabler,” said Nermeen El Tahri.  “Since 2014 till now, banks in Egypt have 64000 non-collateralized loans to SMEs and start-ups of which 37000 are part of the SME initiative. The rate of non-repayment on these loans is 1.5%. This is why the CBE established a risk fund with a credit guarantee company, to reassure the banks that this sector is successful. We are working with 14 banks and MSMEDA building business development services hubs located in the banks, to support the start ups and guide them through the process. The pilot for this  will start by june 2019 in 14 banks.”

In the second panel, entitled “The Egyptian Startup Ecosystem: The present and the Way Forward Panel” featured Ameer Sherif, CEO of Wuzzuf, Alaa Hashem, Co-Founder of Transcendium, Dr Sherif Kamel, Dean, School of Business the American University of Cairo, and Louay El Shawarby, founder and principal at El Shawarby Attorneys at Law.

And finally, to close off the evening, players in global ecosystems took to the stage to discuss “Global Perspectives on Ecosystem Development”. They included Mona Mowafi, founder of RISE Egypt, Nazeh Ben Ammar President of Carthage Business Angels and contributor to the Tunisian Start-Up Act and Muhammed Hamdy, Head of Future Platforms at Dubai Future Foundation.

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