By Hadeel Hegazy
AlMaqarr is a place where people can brainstorm and organise their ideas and plans; it is setup to be unlike a traditional office environment, it is more homely but still serious work is being done. If you need a comfortable place to prepare for a start up or organise an initiative with your partners, AlMaqarr is the place for you. Such a meeting point is relatively new to Egypt and the concept of AlMaqarr is popular among young people particularly. Before the arrival of AlMaqarr people used different venues to discuss their ideas but these locations were not the ideal to take them to the next level; AlMaqarr provides a space for thinking or co-working.
AlMaqarr as described on their Facebook page is “a co-working space; supporting entrepreneurs, student initiatives, NGOs and others, with a community of innovation and collaboration.” It is not only a place where you develop your thoughts, but also a place that could be a turning point for a small idea to bring it to life. It basically serves as the headquarters for a NGO, company, student activity and projects, where its members can feature their organisation, promote it and present it to community.
The idea for AlMaqarr was developed by four young people from different universities. While at university they experienced the same problem students are currently still experiencing; they did not have the place where they could meet to discuss their ideas and small student activity campaigns. “At university we had a space problem, we used to meet in coffee shops and centres which were not qualified places for us to study or work,” said Mohammad Nagi, one of AlMaqarr’s founders, and the operation manager. “So we got the idea of creating a place that would function as a meeting space for people who would like to promote their ideas.”
Realising the need in the market it took the founders some time to bring AlMaqarr into being. “We founded the place in October 2012, but we had been working on the idea since April 2012,” Nagi said.
Since the space opened its doors many different entities have used the facilities. “Forty to 50 NGOs, entrepreneurs, and new businesses have been working in AlMaqarr, as well as multinational and international companies and several universities, for instance Cairo, Ain Shams, AUC, BUE,” Nagi said.
AlMaqarr provides more than just a space though: “We collaborate with the company that works in AlMaqarr, and we provide them with a good work atmosphere and the contacts of other companies if they need,” Nagi said. “We also offer them direct marketing through social media on Facebook and Twitter, and they do the same for us.”
Nagi explained how they can help NGOs with their projects like providing them with a place to display their products for instance. He said that the main role of AlMaqarr is to present a comfortable workspace; however there are other options and support that is available.
The founders have business development of their own, according to Nagi they would like to expand their business and open other AlMaqarr’s in different neighbourhoods in Cairo as well as in other cities.