7 Egyptian startups to watch in 2019
- 19 December 2018
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When Abdelhameed Sharara first launched the RiseUp Summit in 2013, little did he know how big an event it would become for local and regional entrepreneurs as well as big international names.
“Today we’re seeing a lot more MENA entrepreneurs, investors and ecosystem players on stage because these are success stories built over the past six years,” the CEO and co-founder said. “Throughout the first few editions of the Summit, the majority of speakers were led by global stories; today, we have local and regional stories to tell, share and learn from because the reality is that these are the lessons learned that we can apply practically to our ecosystem.”
The 2018 edition of the popular entrepreneurial summit in Cairo, which ended earlier this month, saw over 6,000 attendees from 48 countries, including 240 participating startups and 289 investors. We headed to the event in search of the most promising startups to watch. Read on to find out what they are.
A lot of rural areas in Egypt and the Middle East have streets that are too narrow for cars, leaving many to walk or take a scooter, bike or tuk-tuk. Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen saw an opportunity to help an underserved population that is rarely catered to by tech-driven transportation services.
Enter Halan. Launched last year, the ride-hailing app and on-demand logistics solutions, currently available in Egypt and Sudan, lets users order a motorbike or tuk-tuk ride with drivers vetted and trained by the company.
Ten months after the launch, the former regional director of Careem joined Halan (Arabic for “Now”) as co-founder and chief commercial officer.
And this is how promising the start-up is: during RiseUp Summit, Halan announced that Oscar Salazar, the serial entrepreneur best known as one of Uber’s co-founders, has invested in the company and joined its board of directors. “While everybody is fighting to bring ride-hailing to 1 billion people in the world, Halan is focusing on the remaining 6 billion,” Salazar commented.
Winner of a “Crowd Champion” vote at the Summit, Garment IO a “plug-and-play” garment-manufacturing management solution that offers factory managers and owners a complete overview of production processes, worker performance and production cost calculation, all accessible in real time. The company was founded in 2016 by Mahmoud Sabae and Ahmed Nounou.
Roadside assistance can be a real headache anywhere, but it’s especially true in Egypt (just ask any car-owner in the country). MayDay is promising to remove the personal breakdown associated with a vehicle breakdown by providing real-time and safe roadside assistance to motorists in need.
Currently available in Cairo and Giza, at RiseUp the startup won a prize of EGP 5,000 credit in Uber rides, access to FBStart by Facebook, an artificial intelligence and blockchain course by IBM, and fast-track entry into the Falak StartUps bootcamp programme.
Another prizewinner at RiseUp was Vetwork, an app that provides veterinary services on demand in Egypt. The startup boasts a strong team that includes veterinarian and CEO Fady Azzouny, veterinarian and CMO Abdelrheem Hussein, and COO Zainab Al Jazeery. The team also includes Welfare Director Kelly King and Medical Director Ahmed Aboelenain.
Winner of a Social Impact Award at the Summit, TakeStep is a platform that helps people with addictions by guiding them through recovery and by connecting them to professionals and other resources on an ongoing basis to prevent relapses.
It was founded in 2017 by Mohamed Khashaba, who serves as CEO. He relocated last year to Albuquerque after the startup was accepted into accelerator ABQid’s health-and-wellness cohort.
THE MEAL KIT
Founded by Abdel Rahman El-Mahdy, The Meal Kit offers healthy food at an affordable price compared to takeaways and restaurant deliveries in Egypt. Aimed at students and people living solo who don’t like cooking because of the waste associated with shopping for one, this healthy food service delivers dish ingredients pre-washed, -sliced and -weighed, with a maximum cooking time of 30 minutes.
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The startup currently only operates in Cairo.
Using an app to organise a wedding might seem like every bride’s worst nightmare, but Etgawez, Egypt’s first wedding organiser app, has reportedly attracted just over 4,500 users within five months of being launched in March this year.
Co-founded by Ireni Faheem and David Magdy, Etgawez provides couples everything from jewellers to venues and music to lighting. There are also as bride- and groom-specific services, such as stylists, makeup artists and hairdressers.
Etgawez also provides 5–20 per cent discounts for any services used.
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