AUC-MIT Enterprise Forum Partnership to Build Entrepreneurship in the Arab World

The Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP) at AUC’s School of Business signed a multilateral agreement with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Enterprise Forum (MITEF) of the Pan-Arab Region to help foster entrepreneurship in Egypt and the Arab world. MITEF Pan-Arab is one of 28 chapters of the MIT Enterprise Forum, a nonprofit networking organization that has been serving the entrepreneurial community for more than 35 years.

“MITEF is best known for innovation and startups in the Pan-Arab region, and AUC has the most active entrepreneurship programs in Egypt, so it’s intuitive for those two organizations with the same goals to get together to promote innovation and entrepreneurship in the region,” said Ayman Ismail, assistant professor of management and Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship.

Highlighting the importance of this collaboration, Hala Fadel, chair of MITEF Pan-Arab, noted, “The partnership between the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan-Arab region and AUC is about applying innovation and education to startups and businesses in Egypt and the Arab region. It is a commitment to supporting the education of entrepreneurs, to offering a platform for their ideas and a space for the community to interact and share knowledge,” said

Throughout the year, the School of Business will collaborate with MITEF Pan-Arab to organize workshops, lectures and events that encourage entrepreneurship and innovation in the business world. “AUC students will benefit from the fact that an MITEF Pan Arab representative is at AUC,” Ismail noted. “They will receive maximum exposure, as well as being among the first to know about all MITEF-related events.”

Currently, the School of Business is working with MITEF Pan-Arab to help promote the seventh annual MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition, in partnership with Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives. “The MITEF Arab Startup Competition has been one of the leading events for supporting entrepreneurship in the region,” Ismail said.

The competition, which targets 21 countries in the Arab region, has helped train more than 900 entrepreneurs and has led to the introduction of more than 200 companies in Yemen, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Tunisia and other countries. Last year, 40 percent of the applicants to this competition were startups from Egypt, proving Cairo’s big market for entrepreneurs.

The School of Business provided a platform for Egyptian entrepreneurs to attend the launch of the competition in late October. About 80 people filled Moataz Al Alfi Hall to participate in a webinar that connected 21 Arab cities via Google Hangout. The webinar speakers included Tamer Ford, chief executive officer of Inphi Corporation; Michael Cassidy, project leader for GoogleX’s Project Loon; Sandy Herz, director of strategic alliances at The Skoll Foundation; and Ossama Hassanein, chairman of TechWadi.

The webinar signaled the opening of the competition, which has several different features in comparison to last year. The competition is now introducing three tracks for potential applicants. The first track, labeled as the "ideas track," is for entrepreneurs with ideas who are looking to establish a company. The second track, called the "startups track," is aimed to foster startups with a working prototype that already started generating revenues. The third track, the "global track," is for established companies seeking Silicon Valley exposure and funding from international venture capitalists.

Habiba Helmy, MITEF Pan-Arab representative in Egypt noted the importance of this startup competition in Egypt’s current political and economic climate. “Egypt is witnessing a startup boom right now,” said Helmy. “With the political, social and economic conditions, there are a lot of loop holes, as well as market needs and services, that are in demand in this country. It’s a good time to start, be creative and test whatever you want to do because the whole country is in testing mode.”

EIP was established at AUC to educate students about entrepreneurship and infuse them with the desire to create and innovate entrepreneurial ventures. The program aims to create a healthy entrepreneurial environment inside AUC, serving Egypt and the region at large.

To learn more about the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan-Arab Region,click here.

To learn more about the MITEF Arab Startup Competition,click here.

To learn more about the Entrepreneurship and Innovation Program (EIP) under the School of Business,click here.