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Twenty-five Egyptian social entrepreneurs concluded a five-day social entrepreneurship boot camp in Cairo on Thursday, May 7. Organized and conducted by Entrepreneurship with Impact Ventures (EWIV), a subsidiary of Ahead of the Curve founded in partnership with regional social initiative Silatech, the Cairo boot camp is the first in a series of five fully immersive training sessions to take place over the coming months in Egypt, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Lebanon. The local host for the Cairo training was UNDP Egypt.

The series of five boot camps is designed to create a regional network of social entrepreneurs who are inspired, empowered and equipped to build sustainable social businesses. Participants gain market and industry knowledge, design tools, an understanding of how to go to market, and access to other social entrepreneurs as well as leading experts and investors.

While traditional entrepreneurs usually measure success in terms of profit and return, “social entrepreneurs” apply an entrepreneurial approach to solving social problems. Most “social enterprises” pursue a specific mission to benefit society, while ensuring their sustainability by generating revenue through products and services.

Alia Said, Learner’s Program Manager at Tahrir Academy says: “I truly wish I’d had access to a boot camp like this three years back, it would’ve saved me from lots of the confusion I went through trying to run our start up. What I’ve gained here has given me a clear roadmap on how to sustain and scale our social enterprise. This is the first time I attend such a unique boot camp that combines knowledge, inspiration, and experiential learning all in one.”

Entrepreneurship with Impact Ventures

Entrepreneurship with Impact Ventures is a social initiative that supports the creation and growth of social and inclusive business models across the Middle East and other growth markets. Founding members Silatech and Ahead of the Curve launched EWI in June 2014 to provide financial and technical support to existing and idea stage social enterprises, as well as large businesses that are willing to connect low-income and underserved communities in rural and semi-urban areas (”base of the pyramid”) to the core business of large national and multinational corporations, thereby creating jobs.

The first impact investment venture of its kind in the MENA region, EWIV provides training and incubation services as well as equity investment opportunities for the most promising businesses.

EWIV has already invested in two Egypt-based social businesses: Tawseela is an innovative bus service that addresses the adverse impacts of Cairo’s traffic congestion. Tatweer is revamping the traditional Egyptian kiosk with a new concept design that optimizes the retail, advertising and communal aspects of this ubiquitous street landmark. Additional investments are being explored in Lebanon, Jordan and Morocco.

In addition, EWIV includes a physical a One-Stop-Shop for inclusive businesses based in Cairo which provides advice and capacity building services to large businesses looking to develop inclusive business approaches. This facility is operated with support from the German GIZ.

“We, at Silatech, are proud to be part of this unique and much needed initiative that can create value in so many ways”, said Justin Sykes, Director of Enterprise Development at Silatech.  “In the battle against young unemployment in the region, innovative solutions are sorely needed.  We at Silatech strongly believe that social entrepreneurship can create thousands of sustainable jobs and also transform people’s lives, their communities, and the region at large.”

Dina Sherif, Co-founder and CEO of Ahead of the Curve, said: “The Impact’s Cairo boot camp is the first of a regional English and Arabic series that empowers leaders with the tools needed to achieve sustainable impact through profitable business models. The program takes you through a process of validating an idea, to developing and scaling a business model. We at Ahead of the Curve and Entrepreneurship with Impact Ventures, believe that social enterprises can be not only a pathway to systemic social change, but also to the sustainable creation of jobs needed for our region’s youth.”