Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat emphasised that developing an entrepreneurial environment is a key element to ensure progress and achieve development at the local and global level.
Al-Mashat also noted that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the role that technology and digitisation play in finding sustainable solutions.
These remarks came during the minister’s participation in the Atlantic Council’s virtual event — ‘Developing ecosystems: How Middle East governments drive entrepreneurship.’
The event was also attended by the UAE’s Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs Ahmad Belhoul Al-Falasi; Jordan’s Minister of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship Ahmad Al-Hanandeh; and Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce, and Tourism Zayed R. Al-Zayani.
The Atlantic Council is one of the most prominent think tanks in the US; this event is part of the organisation’s ‘EmpowerME Initiative’ to support entrepreneurs, start-ups, and SMEs.
Al-Mashat shared that 60% of the Egyptian population is under the age of 35, confirming the importance of entrepreneurship, innovation, and job opportunities created through SMEs, coupled with developing the capacity of youths, and the role of the private sector in achieving these goals.
The minister also noted that entrepreneurship and emerging start-ups can play a key role in promoting digitisation and in transitioning to a green economy, as the development and sustainability of the entrepreneurial environment has a multiplier effect on creating job opportunities and in progressing towards a circular economy.
Furthermore, Al-Mashat referred to the Egyptian government’s keenness to support the entrepreneurial environment and start-ups in the country through Egypt Ventures, the first venture capital company with government contributions aiming to develop an entrepreneurial, innovative environment to enhance the skills of entrepreneurs and to increase competitiveness for GDP growth.
By the end of 2021, Egypt Ventures’ direct and indirect investments amounted to EGP 92m to enhance the entrepreneurial environment and start-up scene in the country alongside supporting the transformation towards becoming a regional centre for innovation and entrepreneurship in the Middle East and North Africa with EGP 75m worth of investments in start-up companies in addition to EGP 17m in indirect investments in business accelerators.
Al-Mashat also pointed to the role that youths play as a potential force in the Egyptian economy through innovative ideas. She added that the World Youth Forum (WYF), that was held in Sharm El-Sheikh in January supports youths in developing their skills and expanding their perceptions.
Furthermore, the Egyptian government is committed to empowering its youths, supporting them with leadership positions, and encouraging them to play a greater role in development efforts, noting that the WYF is an opportunity to create effective communication with youths from around the world and to inform them about the efforts of governments and decision-makers.
For his part, Al-Falasi said that the UAE’s government is working to support entrepreneurship. As an example, he said that the UAE provides residence visas to attract young entrepreneurs, not only from Gulf countries but also from around the world. He added that the UAE ranked first for 12 consecutive years in supporting youths at work.
Jordan’s Minister Al-Hanandeh added that supporting the entrepreneurial environment requires enhancing the availability of financial support for start-ups as well as intensifying access to a cooperative market, pointing to the importance of bridging the gap between education and the requirements of an entrepreneurial environment by launching programmes and partnerships with various stakeholders.
Moreover, Bahrain’s Al-Zayani referred to the growing population, especially of youths, adding that changing the mindset of youths from becoming job seekers to job creators is much needed.
“We are moving towards achieving this; it will not change overnight, but we are seeing positive signs,” he said.