Meet Gigi and Hesham from the Nescafe ad: two promising programming and media students politely trying to explain themselves and career choices to their older family members. The humor in both ads arise from communication failure due to generation gap and how the young fellows are ridiculed because of their supposedly “stupid” university majors.
Sounds familiar? Don’t we hate it when we are misunderstood trying to explain (if not defend) whatever we are doing in our lives to others who just don’t get it? With the rise of the popularity of entrepreneurship in Egypt, it seems Egyptian millennial entrepreneurs won’t have a lot of explaining to do.
The most recent Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) Report 2016/2017 highlights the popularity of entrepreneurship among Egyptian millennials with around 17% of early stage entrepreneurs being 25-34 years old and 15% between 35-44 years old. The report is meant to assess the potential and dynamics of entrepreneurship in Egypt and notes that such a rise in “ Youth Entrepreneurship” is more likely the result of either an interest in launching a private independent business (Opportunity-driven entrepreneurs) or lack of employment opportunities (Necessity-driven entrepreneurs). However, is this the case? Are these the only reasons entrepreneurship is on the rise among Egyptian millennials? Maybe.
Here are 4 reasons we think drive Egyptian millennials to choose entrepreneurship:
1. Thanaweyya Amma
Ever wondered why many entrepreneurs are career- shifters? Egyptian millennials were promised to lead a decent life if they study hard in Thanaweyya Amma or majored in the field their families dreamed of. Only then if one is able to study engineering or gain a medical degree will they find a good paying job to make ends meet. Little did they know that by the time they grow up, technology will have become a game changer.
Realizing they are climbing up the wrong career ladder, they ditched whatever they were studying to pursue their passion for entrepreneurship when no one knew what that meant. In doing so, they understand that being an entrepreneur involves a great deal of hard work, taking calculated risks, working in unsocial hours and multitasking but are still willing to lunch their startups and challenge established views on career path choices.
Luckily, entrepreneurship is a field where skill transfer is welcomed and appreciated given the multiple hats an entrepreneur has to wear.
2. Technology and The Internet
Make no mistake, many startups wouldn’t have been possible without the advent of technology. Thanks to technology and Artificial Intelligence(AI), some startup operations are entirely carried online (e.g. IT solutions, online learning) or at least mediated by technology (e.g. car booking, food-delivery, online payment apps).
The internet has opened a world of possibilities for tech savvy millennials to lunch and market their startups at the comfort of their homes. No need for an office (at least at the beginning) when they can meet their team online wherever they are. No need for expensive marketing campaigns when they can reach out to many potential users via social media.
3. Community Support
Missed the deadline of a possible funding opportunity? No worries! Zero-equity incubator and accelerator program cycles are running throughout the year. Egyptian millennials are lucky to enjoy the support of multiple stakeholders in Egypt from fellow angel investors to local banks funds to promising startups. Not to mention the frequent networking and mentorship events available now thanks to the spread of co-working spaces.There is still indeed a need for more funding resources to take the entrepreneurial scene in Egypt to a whole new level.
Going beyond the entrepreneurship community, “Hona Al Shabab”, a TV competition for startups that has been running for two seasons, aims at introducing the Egyptian and Arab viewership to promising startups which inadvertently has turned some entrepreneurs to celebrity influencers.
The GEM report notes that Egyptian national culture has become more accepting of entrepreneurial ventures over the past few years and will continue to be more supportive in the coming years.
4. Social Impact
Egyptian millennial entrepreneurs understand that there is more to entrepreneurship than financial revenues. Of the many psychological rewards of being an entrepreneur comes the positive impact a startup can create in the lives of people. Being in entrepreneurship has helped Egyptian millennial entrepreneurs leave their mark on society as many startup businesses have redefined various aspects of Egyptians’ consumer patterns and everyday lives.
Regardless of the reasons that may have led to the rise of entrepreneurship in Egypt, Egyptian Millennial entrepreneurs have become the pioneers of entrepreneurship in Egypt setting the stage for future generations of entrepreneurs who will find lots of inspiration and success stories to learn from and follow.
Share your thoughts. Which reason resonates with you most? What sparked your interest to become an entrepreneur? Do you think these are the “real” reasons why Egyptian millennials are turning to Entrepreneurship?
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