There are many investment opportunities in the Egyptian market, which tops the list of strategic markets in the Arab and African region, according to Fady Ghandour, founder of Aramex and investments fund Wamda Capital, Mena Venture Investments and Abraaj Capital. In an interview with Daily News Egypt, Ghandour recommended opening the Egyptian market to attract foreign capital, which will push towards growth through the provision of more job opportunities. Ghandour’s speech during the discussion session in the Economic Summit will focus on the importance of involving youth in the labour market, as well as encouraging them to get involved in entrepreneurships and establish start-up companies to promote the economy.
How do you view the Egyptian market in term of investments?
The Egyptian market is one of the most important Arab and African markets in terms of size, capabilities and resources. It has promising opportunities that can attract strategic investments in both the IT and e-commerce sectors.
What legislations do you recommend to improve the investment climate? W is your opinion about points that must be met in the unified investment law?
I’m with complete openness in terms of foreign investments in any market in the world. I believe that they have a great impact on the ability of foreign capital to revive the Egyptian market. These foreign investments will provide new job opportunities and enrich the cognitive and technological sides of the Egyptian market. If the unified investments law addresses these things, I will support it.
What facilities that should be provided to companies and investors in order to accelerate investment growth in Egypt?
Facilities should be provided in a flexible framework away from bureaucracy. There should be laws that encourage investments through the provision of customs facilities and the speeding up of the registration process with a low cost. Converting currencies and profits outside the country should be without obstacles, and laws that facilitate the entry and exit of markets will have a positive impact on investment growth in Egypt.
Is the Egyptian market still attractive to investments?
Of course it is thanks to Egypt’s strategic location and the fact that it’s considered a connection point between two vital continents, in addition to the large market size and the availability of a trained young labour force with expenses that can compete with global markets.
What is the content of the speech you will deliver during the Economic Summit?
The discussion session will revolve around the importance of involving young people in the labour market and encouraging them to experience entrepreneurships as well as establish start-up companies to promote the economy.
What positive results do you expect from the summit from Egypt’s friend states and investors?
I hope solutions to challenges facing the Egyptian market and Arab markets would be proposed. Presenting such issues will provide the opportunity to learn about the experiences of other countries during their fight against similar challenges. This will pave the way for government officials, businessmen and investors to communicate and discuss important issues facing the Arab region.
How do you see entrepreneurship in Egypt and its chances during the next period?
Entrepreneurship in Egypt has to have a big influence to solve the most important and urgent issues that face the Egyptian market, in other words, unemployment. The latest statistics of the World Bank reveal that the percentage of unemployment among youth in Egypt reached almost 38%. According to what is stated above, we have to support the procedure of issuing legislations and laws that encourage youth to establish their own projects and that help them get through obstacles, in order to establish and expand their projects. As a result, there will be new employment opportunities available for Egyptian youth, which will positively influence the process of creating a responsible generation capable of participating in the development process of the country.
Will the economic circumstances in Egypt allow start-up companies to achieve a better position in the Egyptian economy?
Supporting the start-up companies is extremely important, since they are capable of upgrading the market and the economic situation. A study made by the World Bank says that 98% of the companies in Egypt have less than 10 employees. In 2011, the private sector, mainly composed of small and medium-sized enterprises, employed almost threequarters of the Egyptian manpower, which represents 63% of the Egyptian gross domestic product (GDP).
What are the benefits Egypt offers for entrepreneurs that provide them with opportunities to succeed?
There are several factors that prove that Egypt always has much to offer for entrepreneurs to help and provide them with better opportunities to develop. Thus Egypt’s unique characteristics are undeniable: a strategic location, big market that includes 90 million people, youth manpower (statistics show that 50% of the total population are under the age of 30) and the technological culture. This is besides the percentage of the internet spread, which reaches 40%, indicating the importance of the opportunities that can be used. For example, the boom of the Egyptian e-commerce sector presents one of these opportunities, and it is expected that it will reach $446m by 2016. All these factors make the Egyptian market a good climate that attracts investments, entrepreneurs and investors.
Are you studying the possibility of pumping new investments in Egyptian companies in the current period?
Of course, and this will be done through investment funds that we work with (MENA, Wamda Capital, Venture Investments and Abraaj Capital). In the next five years, we will invest in various start-ups and medium-sized enterprises in Egypt.
Is it possible to open communication channels with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, in order to seek cooperation in supporting entrepreneurship?
Of course, I think it is always important to open communication channels and constructing companies, whether for the public or the private sector, working with the Ministry of communications, in order to establish and enforce a suitable infrastructure, with a reasonable cost, to boost the start-up companies to begin their technological work.
What is the governmental role that Egyptian officials play to support entrepreneurship activities?
The Egyptian governmental role is to start communicating and meeting with entrepreneurs, know their needs and discuss the opportunities and challenges that face them. Based on these facts, the government should draft and issue laws and legislations that aim for facing these challenges and enable chances for entrepreneurs. We are thus talking about the laws and facilitations that will support the entrepreneurship climate and encourage foreign investments. As an example, the bankruptcy law in Egypt includes a long and expensive process and may be an obstacle against entrepreneurs when they enter the market, expand their activities and exit the market. This is why issuing laws that aim at facing these challenges through transparency will help build a relationship based on trust between the government and the entrepreneurs, support mutual work, and boost cooperation in order for the Egyptian economy to recover