Arab Partnership, a joint Department for International Development (DFID) and Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) initiative, sponsored a competition to encourage small, socially responsible businesses that can benefit the Egyptian agricultural sector.
The competition, sponsored by the “Small Farmer Market Development and Investment Initiative”, was organised by MCEgypt, a for-profit subsidiary of Mercy Corps, which attempts to encourage businesses that have specific social and pro-poor benefits for Egyptians.
MCEgypt is currently implementing the initiative, which is funded by the UK through the Arab Partnership in Upper Egypt. The initiative aims to provide research, data and advice to agribusinesses with a socially-responsible element to their business plans and provide them with financial resources that can help them expand their businesses further.
Six businesses participated by pitching their ideas, which were reviewed by the panel consisting of entrepreneurs, business men, agricultural experts and the Arab Partnership First Secretary in Egypt Sam Grout-Smith.
The participants were asked to lay out the social and financial details of their business plans and the state of the market demand for the products and services they offer.
The winner of the competition was Nile Co. and Nakhla from Aswan. The two separate companies have decided to merge their businesses together in order to present a better business plan.
The focus of the winning project’s plan is to use palm fronds to manufacture ecologically-sound furniture, domestic items and toys. The business also aims to use palm waste to produce low-cost animal feed.
The prize awarded to the winner includes $5,000 and technical support to help expand the existing business, upgrade its marketing plan and expand its labour force.
“Supporting small businesses to grow and create jobs while also ensuring a positive social or environment impact is a key challenge in Egypt. I am proud that the UK, through MC Egypt, can assist in this process,” Grout-Smith said, adding: “I wish all the entrants the very best of success as they build their companies and develop their staff.”