Egypt vs MENA: Startup Edition

The past year (2019) was a big year for the startup scene, the overall positive entrepreneurial trend continued, with more progress towards growing an entrepreneurial culture in Egypt, particularly through the growing number of entrepreneurs launching their new businesses. In spite of the challenging economic conditions (currency devaluation, growing inflation, rising interest rates and the reduction of government subsidies), the growing interest in entrepreneurship persisted.

Despite the struggles in the Egyptian economy over the past decade, 46% of Egypt’s adult population identify themselves as entrepreneurs, according to the latest Egypt National Report by Global Entrepreneurship Monitor.

Ayman Ismail, Director of AUC Venture Lab and one of the National Report authors, stated “Entrepreneurship is a key driver of economic growth for Egypt and around the world”.

According to MAGNiTT’s report, a total of 564 closed deals occurred in Middle East and North Africa. Egypt ranks first with 25%, (estimated at US $704M) followed by UAE, Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Jordan with 23%, 12%, 6%, 6%, respectively. Moreover, as stated in the report, Egypt funded 14% of startup-sealed deals in the MENA region, ranking in second place after UAE with 60%. Saudi Arabia ranked third followed by Jordan and Lebanon with 9%, 6%, 4%, respectively.

The report also shed light on Egypt’s critical role in enhancing the startup ecosystem through Vision 2030 initiative. The initiative, launched during 2018, aims to improve Egypt’s social, economic and justice sectors, positioning Egypt as a leader in the region.

It is also worth mentioning that 2019 witnessed a significant growth in the financial technology sector. Fintech ranked as the most active industry with highest number of deals with 13%, whereas the e-commerce sector occupied only 11%. On the other hand, Transport industry lands the most cash in deals with 19%, followed by real estate, e-commerce, Fintech with 15%, 14%, 11%, respectively.

Enterprise named SWVL and Adzily among the top 11 funded startups in the MENA region. SWVL closed a US $42M deal, while Adzily received US $12.2M.

Overall, the ecosystem is thriving, with new opportunities arising every day and startups have a fighting chance to make it. The market is allowing business enthusiasts to take their initiatives and ideas live with Egypt witnessing a 31% increase in startup investment deals compared to 2018, becoming the highest country with closed deals in MENA region (according to the MAGNiTT’s report). So, if you feel like you have an idea and see a gap in the market, now is the time to start!


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Mariam Hatem - 02/02/2020

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