By Rawan Abdel Latif
Given Egypt’s questionable past and unforeseeable future, business startups have constantly found themselves caught in a struggle. Those of them who have managed to overcome obstacles have bloomed and become known names in the industry. Meanwhile, those who were unable to fight through the difficulties, or failed to produce something unique that penetrated the market, have found themselves in a limited or failing business. However, some distinctive projects, as the ones mentioned below, have carved their own way into the Egyptian industry, and have very rapidly found success.
GebRaa: Egyptian Handcrafted Treasures
“Our audience is people who want unique production. We are against mass production and environmental pollution.”—Rania Salah
GebRaa is a social enterprise founded by Rania Salah that works to preserve authentic Egyptian crafts that are at risk. This startup is driven by two factors: identity and competitive edge. A true one of its kind, GebRaa believes in reviving cultural heritage by providing high quality handicrafts that reflect the work of this nation’s locals, Bedouins and tribes. Through this, it increases awareness of Egyptian craftsmanship. This enterprise gives these groups a stable income as well as providing highly needed jobs in this field. In order to maintain the high standard, GebRaa also trains artisans to produce these products.
GebRaa’s products vary from bags to accessories to clothing created by materials such as the mother of pearl and the Khayamiya. All of their products are handmade and eco-friendly, adding on to their unique and traditional element. Currently, their handicrafts are being exported, and now have a large customer-base in USA and Europe, besides soon, they will be looking to create an online platform for the Egyptian market.
GebRaa is the winner of SEED Initiative award in 2011 and the Development Market Place Award in 2013. You can find GebRaa at the Greek Campus in downtown Cairo.
“I eventually want the entire country to use technology for education.”—Ramy Saied
Founded by Ramy Saied and Ahmed El Gendy, IT Smart is an integrated IT solutions service provider that targets to serve businesses such as schools, in Egypt and the MENA region. The startup’s main aim is to introduce technology into learning. IT Smart not only implements their customers’ ideas, but also helps in the development process beforehand, to ensure the best customized platform. It also offers after-sales services, such as training and quality support.
In order to successfully merge learning and technology together, this startup not only provides e-learning, but also enterprise resource planning (ERP), and e-commerce solutions. Once implemented, students are then able to access the platform to find out their grades, take exams, complete assignments, as well as taking part in forums and discussions online. IT Smart goes beyond aiding students and teachers only, but offers applications to other departments like accounting and human resources where they can organize their payments, budgets, enter employee info, and employee attendance online.
IT Smart, located at the Greek Campus, has already begun implementing their services to international schools as they have quicker funding and a faster adoption rate. They will soon look to slowly make their way into the governmental sector in order to enhance education in Egypt.
Engineer Amira Nasrallah and her team have created Sensey, a highly advanced sensor used for agricultural purposes. Recently, Egypt has seen a fall in the quality of farmed goods that reach its people, the increase in price, and the exceptionally large amount of wasted and damaged fruits and vegetables available in the market. Quality control has become more and more difficult during these past few years, however, Sensey brings the technological advances needed to begin reducing waste. This sensor is able to detect up to five days of real-time weather data, as well as identifying the condition of the soil in the fields. This data is then processed, eventually advising the farmers on how much water they should be using, and what fertilizer would work best given the circumstances. Sensey is also able to warn farmers of possible threats to the crops, helping them monitor their plants, maximizing production and quality.
Through this, forecasting what should be planted when, using what fertilizer and what quantity of water, has become simpler and easier to achieve. This business is extremely fast growing, as it is the first in the MENA region to tackle this approach of limiting waste and increasing production.
“Everything goes through us first to ensure quality control.”—Asmaa Qasem
El Wekala, founded by Asmaa Qasem and AbdelRahman Atef in January 2015, is a self-funded online platform designed for customers to buy and sell unwanted items at fair prices. Their slogan “El Ghaly Yerkhaslak” reflects the essence of their work, as it implies that you can get a good quality item for a bargain price. El Wekala started off as a Facebook group where the content was mainly user-generated. Clients who wanted to sell any of their unwanted items were to contact the admin first, and after checking that the quality and price were appropriate, El Wekala would accept to post the entry. After buyers showed their interest, El Wekala would then take the item from the seller and deliver it to the buyer in a now door-to-door process.
In order to maintain good quality exchange and satisfied customers, El Wekala only accepts items in great condition and at low prices, as well as offering the buyers the option to return within 24-hours if the item does not meet the standard they expected.
As of now, El Wekala is receiving items from sellers only in Cairo and Giza, but deliver to the buyer anywhere in Egypt. Their next step is to expand receiving products from Alexandria, as there is high demand there.
Egypt Foods Hub: Da Bakers
Da Bakers is a pre-baked pastry business under the mother-company Egypt Foods Hub, and was founded by Karim Soliman. Showcasing their products in the Food Africa exhibition, Da Bakers has been able to provide its customers with a very quick and healthy way to eat baked products. This idea has a huge place in the market as it can cater to people who do not have the time to cook and prepare meals, but still want to protect a balanced diet. Some of their products include fresh-tasting pizza that can be microwaved in its packet, as well as cheese stuffed pastries.
Da Bakers’ are now looking to expand to selling their goods to hypermarkets like Carrefour, Metro, and Spinnys.
Starting as a maker of dairy products and selling them from home, Shaimaa Yassin now has her own small dairy shop in central Cairo, aiming to expand to many chains around the country. Targeting to sell her products to schools and universities first, then hospitals in the future, Dairy House’s aim is to introduce and encourage a healthier lifestyle to the upcoming generations. After appearing in the Food Africa exhibition, she caught the eye of several supermarket chains, enabling her to widen her audience.
Dairy House sells three types of products: dairy, fresh juices, and sweets. Unlike many other dairy stores, this startup wants to create health awareness on the harms of certain additives, and the benefits of using organic substances and products. Their dairy products include yoghurt, rice milk, and pudding, where fresh juices include hibiscus, Tamr Hendi, and Doom, and finally, cupcakes and cookies baked organically.