Posted on: Thursday 4 February, 2021

It is that time of the year again; when businesses reflect on the changes that have occurred in the market and prepare to cope with what is coming next. And this time, with a global pandemic that has raised turbulence in all aspects of our lives, we certainly have a lot to look back on. 

Surrounded by a community of Entrepreneurs, fresh graduates, and businesses in different growth stages in NilePreneurs, we have clearly witnessed most of these changes as they occur, and we would like to share with you our insights about the business and startup trends to expect in 2021. 

Hints on The Future of Startups in 2021

The Entrepreneurial world by its nature is fast changing. With challenges seen as opportunities and technologies reshaping our lives wherever we go, new businesses emerge and others continue to prosper no matter the circumstances, and last year was no different.

In 2020, NilePreneurs Incubate continued to call for innovative ideas for its hardware and software incubators, offering ways to support entrepreneurs in leading their business from Ideation to commercialization.

Throughout its endeavor, around 400 startups applied in different sectors including Engineering, Creative Design, SaaS, Packaging, Product Design, and TechSpace. However, there was a noticeable trend; almost 70% of these applications were tech-focused; offering smarter and faster ways of life to companies and consumers alike. And even incubated startups that originally offered digitized systems pivoted their way out of the crisis by providing more solutions to stay relatable with the needs of the new digital era. 

That is why a look back on entrepreneurship 2020 can clearly state that we should expect evolutionary innovations solving even our most minor challenges, especially now that the luxuries of the past are becoming necessities. And while this might raise the risk of over-saturating the market with tech products, we have witnessed extensively during the pandemic the need for transformative changes in Egypt starting from the demand to access better healthcare services to the vital need for a faster and more reliable internet connection that can withstand the use of millions of people and entire business models turning fully digital. That is why we can expect this crisis to be the catalyst we yearn for to have an advanced future with endless investment opportunities opening its doors to impressive innovation trends in 2021.

How the SMEs’ World is Prone to Change

SMEs world in 2021

The pandemic has massively affected our economy and the SME sector has been one of the victims that faced interrupted supply chains and shortages in intermediate goods. 

Through NilePreneurs’ Value Chain Development Center (VCDC), we have noticed a huge demand last year, receiving applications from over 30 SMEs to receive technical training and guidance on ways to identify the gaps in their production phases and work on increasing the quality and traceability of the products they offer; especially in sectors like food, dairy, and plastic

Meanwhile, other SMEs were more concerned with expanding into new foreign markets, and while the entire nation was forced into lockdown with online shopping reaching its highest demand, there had never been a more suitable time to start an Ecommerce business. That explains the urge of over 100 SMEs to apply for technical training provided by NilePreneurs’ Export Excellence Center to upgrade their products for global markets and become export-ready. And more than 45 have been selected and are currently being supported.

These are some ways that show that the business trends for 2021 will focus on innovation to create value for customers and facilitate the process of expansion to compete even in the most aggressive markets. 

Top Digital Trends to Look Out for in 2021:

We can probably all agree that the business theme for last year was coping with the change. This applied to businesses of all sizes, from startups to SMEs and large corporations. However, each type of business may have dealt with this theme differently. On one hand, some SMEs have struggled to manage the heavy costs of digital transformation and others lacked the resilience and flexibility needed to shift their entire operations to the online world while dealing with the new norms of remote working. On the other hand, most startups resorted to a unique approach; they quickly altered their strategies to cope with the new reality, and soon they not only won the market shift but also turned to support other companies that were struggling to get along with Digital means.

We saw this very clearly at “Khalik Digital”. In a time when consumers across the world have found refuge in online shopping for the most essential products, a recent wave of growth in the e-commerce industry has become prevalent. In response, startups like Al Matjar offered companies the opportunity to create digital stores with no technical or coding skills required. Also, Eboma allowed businesses to create and publish iPhone and Android apps in just a few hours, and Fawaterak completed the cycle by providing online businesses the chance to collect their payments using the easiest and fastest payment methods locally and globally. Above that, Startup Manager has introduced an all-in-one cloud platform to manage inventory, invoicing, sales, Human Resources, CRM, and everything needed in between to run a business. 

These were only a few examples of the brilliant ways companies united to thrive in the digital age. And according to the market research conducted by GlobalWebIndex (GWI) across 17 markets around the world, we can see that 45% of e-commerce shoppers will continue to buy more things online even after the pandemic ends, besides to an increased intent among 33% of those who weren’t regularly purchasing online. With these statistics in mind, this digital trend is not going away anytime soon and more companies are acting accordingly. 

How The Use of AI will Reshape our Future!

How The Use of AI will Reshape our Future!

Over the last few years, artificial intelligence has been growing, and we have been witnessing a giant leap in its integration in almost all industries. 

With the current pandemic turning our lives upside down and putting billions of people in lockdown with minimal access to healthcare, it has become clearer than ever that we can ask for technology’s help and this is no longer a concern of first-world countries alone.

Lots of startups in Egypt have already started using AI. For example, the TechSpace incubated startup 1000 Salama created the first Arabic medical diagnostic Aid chatbot that uses AI to diagnose symptoms and receive medical advice and recommendations on the next course of action. Likewise, the LaunchSaaS incubated startup A-Eye Tech has empowered companies to enter the AI Era by offering access to the latest technologies, including Deep & Machine learning and data science. 

Moreover, as NilePreneurs took part in the AI4DEV challenge, organized by the International Communication Union (ITU) in partnership with UN Agencies and other local and international organizations, it has been clear that the intellectual and technological capabilities in countries of Africa and the Arab region have advanced massively and are eligible to introducing winning ideas for AI integrated solutions targeting some of the most urgent United Nations SDGs including Zero Hunger, Good Health, Decent Work, Economic Growth and Industry Innovation

Over the next few years, we can expect to see AI companies having a bigger influence on multiple industries including Bioscience, Education, Banking, Transportation, Hospitality, and much more; and the sooner you can take the lead in such advancement, the better your market position will be. 

How This Affects The Job Market in 2021?

The pandemic may have controlled us in lots of ways, some of which will fade away right after the crisis is over; but other changes are here to stay. After employers have weighed the value of certain jobs over others, deciding on ways to control their costs, it’s become clear that their needs have differed. According to the prediction by the strategic career advisors “Career Group Companies”, the most demanded jobs in the upcoming years include Digital Marketing specialists, Graphic designers and creatives, IT professionals and Web Engineers. 

As we analyze 1600 applications received by NP Explore capacity building program, we can see with certainty that some of these jobs are also becoming of high interest to college students and fresh graduates across 21 governorates in Egypt with the most selected tracks being Business Development, Digital Marketing and Software Development (Backend, UI, UX)

With the rate of forced layoffs increasing and a chance of remote work becoming the new normal, the need for in-demand skill certificates for more advanced fields will continue to rise; making competition between job seekers more aggressive than ever. 

There is no doubt that 2021 will be a continuation of 2020, however, by analyzing the most dramatic changes we have witnessed we can now foresee what is coming our way, allowing for a chance to prepare accordingly.

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