As told by those who enlivened it!
In 2016, the national Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) Financing Initiative by the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) was launched with the objective of empowering local businesses to either establish or scale up an already existing business. CBE announced reduced interest rate of 5% loans to SMEs & mandated that all Egyptian based banks dedicate 20% of its loan portfolio to SMEs.
At Nile University, the ecosystem support strategy was forged to bridge the gap between technology, & research with the market of B2C, B2B & Global Competitiveness of local products. The approach at Nile University Centers is less about “Research on a Shelf” and more about turning research into innovative products that make people’s & businesses’ lives more prosperous, efficient & productive. The Innovation Entrepreneurship Competitiveness Centre (IECC) in specific has been the place where the CBE’s initiative of empowering local businesses found a resonating echo.
Nile University’s IECC submitted its proposal to the Central Bank of Egypt in 2017 … with a courageous raised hand to bring the university sector (led by Nile University as the first entrepreneurial university in the region) onboard to be a local industry enabler & accelerator. The Central Bank of Egypt & Nile University back then locked a 5 years strategic partnership .. aka .. the beloved NilePreneurs Initiative!
NilePreneurs, now fueled by the faith & fund of the CBE, started to build up its support system to the local industry & entrepreneurial scene…. And stemming from a university, it’s not been foreign to “Research” before they “Design” the frameworks through which entrepreneurs & SME owners shall be served.
The thorough study of the Egyptian economic scene has shown that SMEs have a great potential to contribute to the Real Economy by their physical product materialization momentum but sometimes lacking the drive for scaling & expansion. They’re also a little shying away from the thought of utilizing the financing options facilitated by the Egyptian banks. Hence the idea of BDS (Business Development Services) Hubs came to the surface. NilePreneurs offered to set in place the operating framework & non-financial services of the BDS Hubs for SMEs business consultations for financing readiness now offered by almost every bank in Egypt!
But Innovation & Design is a prerequisite for growth as well… and now with the Egyptian banking sector starting to join along with NilePreneurs & CBE, Banque Misr have injected the first leveraging fund to launch the Design House with the objective to enable Small & Medium Enterprises to design solutions to pressing local manufacturing gaps instead of relying on imports. And for product 1st batch production & materialization, the MicroFactory with a unique set of jigs & fixtures as well as Die & Mold machining capabilities sponsored by Industry Development Bank, has been built close by Nile University campus.
By the beginning of 2019, NilePreneurs started to look for other economy boosting factors in the Entrepreneurs & Startup Owners segment, who are mostly driven by high-tech with high scalability promise once their innovative products materializes & gets adopted by the market. Startups are also such an attraction to Foreign Direct Investment to the country.
Now NilePreneurs was on the lookout to attract startups which develop physical products that add to Real Economy, and which needed prototyping support to be able to attract investment. NP Incubate program launched 3 hardware product focused incubators, the Engineering incubator sponsored by Housing & Development Bank, the Creative Design incubator, sponsored by QNB Al-Ahli bank & Packaging Design Incubator sponsored by E-Bank.
For Software as a Service Startups in the ideation & early stage also have the promise of naturally attracting investment due to mass adoption by customers at later stages once product is ready & mature. Under the NP Incubate program, LaunchSaaS Incubator sponsored by Suez Canal Bank was launched, giving special focus to B2B solutions which help fill the digital transformation challenge for the local SMEs with affordable & locally customized solutions that aids efficiency & export readiness. The Pre-incubation sub-program sponsored by E-Bank was set in place as well, supporting generic ideation stage startups across all industry sectors.
The NP Accelerator program sponsored by HSBC bank, served the uniquely selected late-stage startups with Real Economy leverage prospect from all sectors. Whether they’re graduates of NP Incubate program or other support programs in the ecosystem.
Under NP Compete Program, the Value Chain Excellence Centre, sponsored by United Bank was being initiated to continue supporting SMEs in promising sectors like furniture, chemicals & textile industries with deep analysis-based consultancies to boost their operational efficiency & sales volume. And for the SMEs which have bypassed the sales & operational hurdles, they were urged to join the Export Excellence Centre sponsored by Banque Du Caire, giving them the digital & procedural capacity to compete in global markets. The successful growth of SMEs as well as the evolution in their management model is of a crucial importance role in enriching the job market with high quality job opportunities.
Now after 5 years of in-depth involvement & a finely crafted thought process of NilePreneurs Initiative team, there are tons of lessons learnt, and there’s an economical & regional scene that’s rapidly changing. Our faith & passion to continue being even a larger gear in steering national economy towards local sufficiency & global competitiveness is growing, and we’re committed to realize Egypt’s national economic goals. NilePreneurs never stops innovating … and is morphing into a new model of entrepreneurship enabling & support services, strengthening ties with our road partners, and opening arms to more believers in the vision of Egyptian Economy Empowerment to walk the upcoming journey with us…but that’s yet another story to be told…