Egypt Ventures, a government-seeded investment firm, has provided investments of EGP 257m since it was set up, and is working to expand in the coming period, according to the company’s CEO and Founder Ahmed Gomaa.
Gomaa said that the company’s upcoming expansion will take place to provide more support for emerging Egyptian companies, with increased investments of EGP 62m in 2020.
Set up in 2017, Egypt Ventures is an investment firm seeded by Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation and the Saudi Fund for Development. The firm supports and invests in startups in a diverse range of sectors across Egypt, with a blended finance model that directs capital into accelerators, venture capital firms, and startups at the early and growth stages.
The company seeks, through its short-term plan, to provide alternative financing opportunities for Egyptian entrepreneurs, open local investment opportunities for Egyptians. It also aims to provide them with expertise from Egyptian entrepreneurs residing abroad, to promote the transfer of knowledge and experience, whilst opening doors for cooperation.
Gomaa also hailed the Ministry of International Cooperation’s role in helping the company to expand into an untapped market outside of Cairo and Alexandria. This cooperation has helped build a strong talent network for entrepreneurship.
His remarks came during a meeting with Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat.
The minister also met with the founders of two tech-startups to explore key trends in Egypt’s innovation and entrepreneurship landscape, and opportunities ahead for local, regional and global expansion.
The meeting was attended by Gehan Saleh, Advisor to the Prime Minister for Economic Affairs, and Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Executive Director of the General Authority for Investment and Free Zones (GAFI). Also in attendance were members of the Egypt Ventures’ Board of Directors, including: Youssri Helmy, Founder and CEO of ItWorx; Hassan Al-Attas, Director General of Operation and Head of the Saudi Grant Management Committee at the Saudi Fund for Development; and Nermin El Tahri, Assistant to the Minister of International Cooperation.
Minister Al-Mashat outlined the importance of Egypt becoming the region’s entrepreneurial hub, as the majority of the country’s population is young, and reflects an agile, adaptive, talented and innovative pool of workers.
The minister emphasised that the development of a solid, sustainable and inclusive entrepreneurship ecosystem, that has a multiplier effect on job creation, leads to delivering a circular economy in the future.
She added that despite the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Egyptian startups and accelerators have managed to forge ahead to rebuild and reinvent. They have, in turn, evolved into a welcoming landscape for local and international investors.
Minister Al-Mashat added that Egypt Ventures is the only compact that supports entrepreneurship with public funds. It plays a role in presenting role models and successful examples of startups to drive the ecosystem forward and attract more investors. Examples of these include: AlMentor.net; Mayday; Paynas; Xpay; Noqood; Raseedi; Hood; Oxygen; Now Pay; Liwwa; Fatura; Qasatli; and Chai among others.
Shifting to a new normal following the COVID-19 pandemic, Minister Al-Mashat added that robust financial services will be highly significant for individuals and enterprises. Accordingly, companies need to provide digital financial services to take advantage of this situation, and scale up to meet the rising demand.
Gomaa noted that this segment is highly scalable, as new industries are created by new technologies that create a positive impact on jobs and the GDP. Technology startups also provide software that improves the efficiency and performance of traditional businesses in traditional sectors.
Last year, the Egyptian government set up a EGP 1bn ($57mn) fund via the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) for fintech startups. The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has also launched a two-year programme, including incubators such as Algebra, Flat6Labs, and EFGEV, which plan to invest in more than 30 fintech-focused startups in the next five years.