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Nilepreneurs Initiative: Achieving a Two Billion Egyptian Pound Increase in Sales for Startups Benefiting from the Initiative’s Programs in Five Years

Since its launch in 2019, the Nilepreneurs Initiative, one of the leading initiatives of the Central Bank of Egypt executed in collaboration with the Nile University, supported by ENID/El Nidaa, and a consortium of local and international partners, has achieved a notable increase in sales for the companies that benefited from its diverse incubation and export enhancement programs, amounting to nearly two billion Egyptian pounds.

In its report issued on the occasion of its fifth anniversary, the initiative highlighted that over 1500 companies have benefited from its services. This includes about 900 small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) within the export support and value chain programs, approximately 300 startups and work teams in the pre-incubation stage, and 260 companies that received support in digital transformation, in addition to about 100 startups and SMEs within the innovation program.

The Nilepreneurs programs also contributed to creating more than 2300 jobs in the benefiting companies and supported over 180 female entrepreneurs as founding partners, in addition to training and connecting more than 1100 companies with investors and industry experts. Approximately 17,000 entrepreneurs, a third of whom are women, benefited from the diverse services provided by the initiative, including more than 15,000 training hours in various fields such as entrepreneurship, innovation, business development, programming, marketing, branding, financial and legal management, as well as in advanced fields required in the job market, including embedded systems, data science, data analysis, and the Internet of Things.

Dr. Heba Labib, the Executive Director of the Nilepreneurs Initiative, emphasized the importance of the initiative’s programs in supporting creative solutions in national strategic sectors such as information technology, artificial intelligence, and creative industries, contributing to sustainable development across Egypt. She pointed to the significant impact of the initiative on environmental sustainability through supporting projects focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, waste, and pollutants of air, water, and soil.

Labib also mentioned the continuous work with small and medium-sized enterprises to develop various industries in Egypt across sectors such as manufacturing, agriculture, chemicals, furniture, construction and building, and engineering industries, contributing to sustainable growth in other sectors like dairy, textiles, and biodegradable plastics through the Value Chain Development Center.

Since its official launch in 2019 until the end of 2023, the Nilepreneurs Initiative has consistently supported entrepreneurship and innovation in Egypt through comprehensive service packages including 6 different programs and 5 specialized business incubators, including a pre-incubation program aimed at helping idea owners and startups establish their businesses or expand and grow and face market challenges for existing projects.

Labib highlighted the significant role played by participating banks in the initiative’s various programs, whether in incubation, pre-incubation, value chains, innovation, export support, the Design House, and the Mould Manufacturing Center, including banks like QNB Alahli, Export Development Bank of Egypt, Suez Canal Bank, Housing and Development Bank, Bank Misr, HSBC Egypt, Industrial Development Bank, Bank of Cairo, United Bank, and Housing and Development Bank.

She pointed out the Business Development Services (BDS) program by the initiative, in collaboration with about 17 banks besides the Ministry of Youth and Sports and several universities, covering most of Egypt’s governorates to provide technical, advisory, and non-financial solutions for SMEs and newly established project owners, through 9 main services including generating new project ideas, facilitating access to training programs, establishing projects, facilitating the registration of activities and obtaining licenses, facilitating access to feasibility studies and business plans and business models, preparing credit files, financial analysis, knowledge dissemination, and networking.

Labib noted that companies graduating from the initiative’s programs have woven many distinctive success stories, achieving sales increases exceeding two billion pounds, and more than 100 startups, with the initiative’s help, have succeeded in launching their products in the market. Additionally, several incubated companies attracted funding from local and international investors amounting to nearly 200 million pounds.

The initiative has also enabled incubated companies to participate in major international exhibitions and conferences and connect with investors from around the world, through major events such as GITEX Saudi Arabia, GITEX Dubai, and Cairo, as well as Seamless Egypt and Saudi Arabia, in addition to local craft exhibitions like the “Turathna” exhibition alongside the annual festival for creative industries. A large number of companies participated in the Xmatch forum in 2023, which brought together major companies in the investment field with participation from the Central Bank of Egypt, sponsoring banks, and a number of investors.

To offer advisory services and specialized educational content in the agricultural field, Dr. Heba Labib announced the launch of the “AgroGate Egypt” platform in partnership with the Academy of Scientific Research, Fayoum University, and a network of agricultural experts. The platform benefited more than 4500 users, in addition to more than 120,000 visitors, and won the United Nations-Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) award for 2022/2023 for the best Arabic digital content serving the Sustainable Development Goals.

In terms of supporting local products, the initiative’s Innovation Center launched several programs to support and deepen local manufacturing, aiming to develop and manufacture local alternatives to components and products, helping to overcome import challenges and give the Egyptian product a competitive edge over imported ones. Among these programs are the Design House program sponsored by Bank Misr and the Mould Manufacturing Center sponsored by the Industrial Development Bank, and the Mini Factory program being implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and the Industrial Development Bank, with more than 190 projects executed through these programs.

The companies that graduated from the initiative’s programs have not only achieved local success but also made appearances on the international stage through participation in major international exhibitions and conferences, facilitating their connection with investors from various parts of the world. Among these events are GITEX Saudi Arabia, Dubai, and Cairo, as well as Seamless Egypt and Saudi Arabia, local craft exhibitions like the “Turathna” exhibition, in addition to participating in the annual festival for creative industries and the Xmatch forum in 2023, which brought together major companies in the investment field with participation from the Central Bank of Egypt, sponsoring banks, and some investors.

Through these continuous efforts, the the Nilepreneurs Initiative affirms its commitment to fostering a spirit of innovation and entrepreneurship in Egypt, providing a robust platform for startups, and small, and medium-sized enterprises to grow and expand not only locally but also internationally, thereby enhancing the Egyptian economy and creating new job opportunities that contribute to reducing unemployment and advancing economic development in the country.

The achievements of the Nilepreneurs Initiative and the positive impact it has made on the entrepreneurial and economic community in Egypt serve as a testament to the importance of comprehensive and sustained support for startups and SMEs. By providing training, consultancy, financial support, networking with investors, and opportunities to appear in international events, the initiative prepares entrepreneurs capable of facing challenges and seizing opportunities in the local and global market.

The active contribution of banks and partner entities in the initiative reflects the significant role that public-private partnerships can play in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship. This collaboration enhances the effectiveness of the programs offered and expands the scope of support to include a larger number of entrepreneurs and startups.

In the current global context, where technological changes are accelerating and economic competition is intensifying, the importance of such initiatives in stimulating innovation and supporting the digital transformation of companies becomes evident, enabling them to adapt to changes and take advantage of new opportunities. The role played by the Nilepreneurs Initiative in enhancing the competitive capabilities of Egyptian companies directly contributes to achieving Sustainable Development Goals and reinforcing Egypt’s position as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship in the region.

By continuing to develop and implement programs that support innovation and provide an environment conducive to the growth of startups, and SMEs, the Nilepreneurs Initiative serves as a model for empowering entrepreneurs and stimulating economic growth, in alignment with Egypt’s Vision 2030 for comprehensive and sustainable development.

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