Growing the Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: AUC Partners with RiseUp for Annual Summit
Continuing to make its imprint as an innovative institution with extensive reach in the community, AUC has recently launched a strategic partnership for the RiseUp Summit, the largest innovation and entrepreneurship summit in the MENA region, taking place in the heart of downtown Cairo annually. As part of the partnership, AUC is offering its Tahrir Square campus as one of the venues for the summit and supporting the organization of the event as a "strategic partner and first believer."
RiseUp is a well-known organization that aims to boost startups and widen their access to resources through an annual RiseUp Summit and its online platform, RiseUp Connect. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between AUC and RiseUp highlights the start of a long-term partnership –– a collaboration aimed at supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem in Egypt and the MENA region.
“We are proud of RiseUp, which has grown to be a prominent contributor to the entrepreneurship scene in Egypt,” said Ayman Ismail '95, '97, Abdul Latif Jameel Endowed Chair of Entrepreneurship at AUC’s School of Business and founding director of the AUC Venture Lab. “Through our strategic partnership, we ensure that AUC and RiseUp will be sharing a variety of resources in order to enrich the ecosystem. AUC will mobilize a wide network of its entrepreneurs, faculty members, students and alumni to support the RiseUp Summit.”
Ismail will be among the numerous experts speaking at the summit, concentrating on Egypt’s evolving entrepreneurship ecosystem. His talk will trace current entrepreneurial trends, outlining how individuals can learn more about this expanding environment and how they can tap into its opportunities. Among the many other AUCians participating in the forum will be Hisham El-Khazindar '96, member of the University’s Board of Trustees and co-founder and managing director of Qalaa Holdings, and Hoda Mostafa, associate professor of practice in the Center for Learning and Teaching.
"The holistic approach to thinking about human experience design is one of the many strengths of the 2017 RiseUp Summit," said Mostafa. "Engaging in and combining the creative, capital and tech tracks all in one place with fantastic guest speakers during this three-day event is sure to kickstart ideas and inspire collaborations in Egypt."
Celebrating growing entrepreneurial endeavors in the Middle East and Africa, the annual summit invites eager entrepreneurs from any industry to join in on workshops, listen to talks and panel discussions, participate in competitions as well as visit stations featuring industry experts. The theme of this year’s summit, Innovation to Improve Human Experience (HX), invites attendees to consider how entrepreneurial projects have a hold on our daily lives, driving how we experience our world and interact with others.
As a strategic partner, the University will be hosting several sessions at the Tahrir Square campus this year and will have a large presence at the summit. Several faculty members and alumni will be participating as speakers, and students from AUC’s Entrepreneurs’ Society will be contributing as volunteers. Attendees will also have the opportunity to stop by an AUC booth, which will include representatives of the AUC Venture Lab, the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, and other stakeholders.
RiseUp’s only student partner, AUC’s Entrepreneurs’ Society, helped to sell discounted tickets to students and provided volunteers to help manage the event. They have been actively promoting the summit through their social media challenges, and student volunteers have been preparing with training sessions every week leading up to this weekend. "The RiseUp summit is an amazing opportunity for people to gain knowledge about the entrepreneurial ecosystem and see all the different stakeholders, such as investors, community partners and students,” said Jenny El Boushy, president of Entrepreneurs’ Society and business major with a concentration in finance. “It’s important for students to be involved so they can start getting the experience of entrepreneurship because this isn’t something you learn in a course. Students are exposed to different ideas. They get to work on their networking skills and make connections.”
Student volunteers will have opportunity to engage with important figures in the entrepreneurial field and connect with individuals from various backgrounds. “RiseUp is one of the most unique initiatives in Egypt,” said Salma Fishier, double major in economics and political science and member of the Entrepreneurs’ Society who will be volunteering at the summit. “It says we’re here to develop, here to advance. It really aims to do something good for the country. It’s amazing when entrepreneurs, big multinationals and small startups come from all over the world. We get to see the world in just three days.”
RiseUp’s main partner for the summit, AUC Venture Lab, will take the event as an opportunity to promote its programs and highlight its successful startups. It was also provided with discounted tickets to sell to its entrepreneurs. Launched in 2013 as Egypt's first University incubator, the AUC Venture Lab acts a liaison between AUC and external entrepreneurs, offering a space for learning and research. It provides the resources to support Egyptian startups as they identify business plans, develop innovative technologies and situate themselves within the country’s economic landscape. The AUC Venture Lab has been named for two consecutive years among the Top Five Most Promising University Business Incubators in Africa (2014) and a high-impact incubator in the Middle East and North Africa region (2015) by the Swedish-based ranking company, UBI Global.
Numerous AUC alumni who have now seen success in their entrepreneurial initiatives will be speaking at the summit, sharing advice and reflecting on the social influence their projects have had. "We at Ahead of the Curve believe in the power entrepreneurship has in driving driving sustainable development," said Hanzada Abou-Youssef, senior associate at Ahead of the Curve and AUC alumna. "Through our Impact Training Program, we empower, inspire and educate entrepreneurs to solve societal challenges through their innovative businesses."