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AUC School of Business Celebrates the Entrepreneurial Spirit

On October 26, the AUC School of Business held its Mentorship Roundtable and Panel event which marked the launch of the School’s Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP), in addition to the launch of the Techwadi 100 mentorship program. The day started with a roundtable for thirty two pre-selected young entrepreneurs, meeting mentors from TechWadi 100 in the Silicon Valley and the region to discuss challenges and opportunities. Entrepreneurs also had the chance to present and discuss their ideas to groups of advisors in closed sessions, addressing business plans, tackling entrenched challenges and discovering avenues for collaboration and expansion. The day concluded with a leadership panel titled “The Promise of Entrepreneurship for Egypt”, which was open to AUC students, alumni and business executives. The panel discussed the promise of entrepreneurship in Egypt and the role local leaders can and must play to ensure a vibrant and thriving ecosystem. The aim was to build bridges, provide mentorship opportunities to the country’s aspiring entrepreneurs and promote entrepreneurship in Egypt. 

TechWadi, a Silicon Valley-based non-profit organization seeking to build bridges between the U.S. and the Middle East and North Africa region, is partnering with AUC’s School of Business to support innovation and foster economic development in Egypt.  A delegation of TechWadi leaders and mentors came to AUC to launch the new Plug and Play (PnP) incubator in Cairo, which is fast becoming the center of the region’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. PnP Cairo, like its Silicon Valley counterpart, will accelerate the growth of hundreds of entrepreneurial companies in the next three years.

TechWadi leaders and mentors who came to AUC included the two-person team that is bringing Silicon Valley to Cairo; Ossama Hassanein, Chairman of TechWadi, and Saeed Amidi, founder and CEO of PlugandPlayTechCenter. as Constantin Delivanis, founder & CEO of BDNA, Wael Ghonim, head of Marketing for Google MENA, Hanan Abdel Meguid, CEO of OT Ventures, Sam Badawi, CEO of Perceptia Devices, Samir Kamal, Chairman of Ascendiente, and Ahmad Al Sari, Executive Partner at Malaz Capital.

“There are numerous emerging markets throughout the world, but Cairo, Egypt is the launch pad for the Middle East with regards to technology,” said Andy Duncan, chairman of Boardwalktech, explaining his decision to join this mentorship project in the Middle East. “The entrepreneurial potential is nurtured in the universities because young people are the future.  I am here because I love entrepreneurship and I want to see it spread,” explained Duncan.

Saeed Amidi, founder and chief executive officer of Plug and Play Tech Center, explained his company’s role in the initiative. “The entrepreneurial world is exciting. With the change in business models, less startup capital is needed. We are witnessing the rise of small, profitable applications. It doesn’t matter where you are, you can build a great company. This heightens Plug and Play’s interest in expanding outside the U.S.”

Building off the experience of Ireland’s Diaspora, which helped to usher in a new era of entrepreneurship in that country, the Rising Tide initiative championed by TechWadi connects the experience of Egypt’s expatriates in Silicon Valley with the creative ideas of Egypt’s young minds, explained Ossama Hassanein, Brown Chair in International Business Leadership in the Department of Management, AUC’s School of Business, chairman of TechWadi and a prominent US-based venture capitalist. “By the end of the coming year, we hope to have five companies from Egypt incubated in the U.S.,” added Hassanein.

Photo Caption: Left to right: Wael Ghoneim, head of marketing in Google's Middle East and North Africa, Constantin Delivanis, co-founder and CEO BDNA, and Ossama Hassanein