Rise in Start-Ups After the Arab Spring
I recently wrote about a rise in entrepreneurship among the younger generation who were involved in the social protest. This was inspired in part by a sudden rash of articles in the New York Times, Reuters, Huffington Post and elsewhere claiming that the political revolution in Egypt had spawned an entrepreneurial revolution.
While true, there are two significant objections:
First, there is a tendency toward hyperbole that exaggerates the potential power of dozens, even of hundreds of start-ups in solving economic problems that have been decades in the making. The regime in the last decade used to exaggerate this capacity as well. The fact is, most start-ups fail.
Second, because entrepreneurship creatively overcomes obstacles and gets around resource scarceness, there’s a tendency to blame failure on the lack of ingenuity and creativity of the entrepreneur, rather than looking seriously at the overwhelming infrastructural problems that get in the way.
That said, entrepreneurship is fascinating to watch because it is derived from human energy and creativity. Here I thought I’d list some of the companies I’ve been reading about in these articles:
Currently in Beta testing, Bebasata is a technology e-commerce retailer, hoping to change the ways people in the increasingly connected Middle East and North Africa choose to shop for technology products.
an app that lets users warn each other about congested traffic routes
From the same people who plan to bring you bebasata.com, this is an on-line Arabic/English bookselling service.
Launched in 2006, dna is a leading Egypt-based digital-advertising agency providing creative and professional services.
Google’s start-up incubator for Egypt
This is an “enterprise mobile solutions” company–that is, they create apps that help you have more information about your business on your mobile phone. Their most recent app, however, is mparent, designed to help parents be more involved in their children’s education.
an app to locate hospitals anywhere in the world. The name means “rescue me” in Arabic.
A location-based social networking platform
An “e-wallet” on-line payment system
Mashaweer is a service which helps customers avoid the traffic in Egypt’s gridlocked cities by running errands for them, from shopping and paying bills to arranging replacements for lost IDs. It started in Alexandria in 2010 with three scooters and investment of LE30,000. It launched in Cairo Dec. 2011 and now boasts 130 of its distinctive orange scooters, 15 cars and a speedboat.
PlugandPlay is designed to find, select, and accelerate the successful growth of the most promising young companies.
A web site of information and advice for mothers.
Curley, Nina. 2012. How Endeavor Entrepreneurs Are Faring After the Egyptian Revolution. Endeavor, Feb. 1
Selgson, Hannah. 2011. Arab Spring, Startup Summer? New York Times July 16.
Stangler, Dane and Robert Litan. 2011. In Egypt, Will an Economic Revolution Follow? Inc. February 12.
Torchia, Andrew. 2011. Egypt’s Entrepreneurs See New Dawn Post-Revolution. Reuters (Huffington Post)
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