Cairo was - surprisingly - named one of the top 10 cities in the world to found a tech-startup last year, and that is likely partly due to the incubators and accelerators that have popped up all over the country.
From clean tech, to pure tech, to social, they’re designed to help aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the tricky waters of putting a brilliant idea into motion.
Here is a list of startup incubators (usually for newer startups) and accelerators (generally for more mature businesses) currently running in Egypt.
With many initiatives like Egypt Innovate and Hay, an innovation initiative focused on startups serving their immediate neighborhoods, running throughout Upper Egypt and the Delta as well as in its headquarters in Cairo, TIEC is a government entity providing incubation for budding entrepreneurs. Funding amounts go up to 120,000 Egyptian pounds (US$13,500) and it doesn’t take equity, and TIEC offers services such as office space, mentoring and investor showcases.
In May, TIEC launched a new competition in partnership with phone company Etisalat called StartIT that focuses on six ‘challenges’: gamification, smart electricity meters, fitness and healthcare, smart cities and smart silos. The competition concludes with a 10 month incubation from December for the two winners.
With a focus on teaching college and high school students how to be entrepreneurs, Injaz runs two competitions, Dare to Dream for school students and Startup Egypt for early stage startups. They provide incubation services for 3-6 months for the winners, who are drawn from across Egypt but hosted in Cairo. Incubation winners receive office space, exposure to marketing and business mentoring, plus undisclosed funding amounts depending on the business model.
Injaz Egypt is part of the regional Injaz NGO that started in Jordan and focuses on youth education, development, and employment.
Location: Mokattam, Cairo
Incubation period: 6 months - 1 year
Famous graduates: Jozour
An initiative launched by the Misr El-Kheir Foundation, Gesr focuses on startups working on water, energy, food, health and education issues. The initiative runs a six month acceleration program, with funding of up to 200,000 Egyptian pounds available, and a one year incubation program with funding of up to 500,000 Egyptian pounds available.
Gesr takes a minor equity stake, and offers office space, mentorship, and investor showcasing. They also run two interesting laboratories for young innovators.
With chapters across the Middle East, Flat6labs Cairo was the first. It accepts 10 startups twice a year for its three month acceleration program, and provides funding of $10,000-15,000 in exchange for up to 10-20 percent equity as well as the usual perks of coworking office space and mentoring.
The next Cairo round will start in Spring 2017. Fla6labs was the startup builder envisioned and initially backed by venture investor Sawari Ventures.
Location: Giza, Cairo
Acceleration period: 14 weeks
Famous graduates: None yet
Run by Flat6labs in partnership with Barclays Bank Egypt, 1864 is Egypt’s first dedicated fintech accelerator. It offers funding of up to 150,000 Egyptian pounds (US$16,800) in exchange for a minority stake of 10-15 percent.
1864 has started its first incubation round which will end in December 2016.
Location: Heliopolis, Cairo, Assiut
Incubation period: 3-6 months
Famous graduates: Qabess
Ebni, run by Eitesal, is Egypt’s first dedicated incubation program for Internet of Things (IoT) startups. Located at their coworking space in Heliopolis, it offers 50,000 Egyptian pounds (US$5,600) seed funding in return for 5 percent equity, coworking space, a state of the art IoT lab, mentorship and legal walkthroughs.
Eitesal, the ICT industry’s lobby group, is aiming to use the incubator to invest in information technology, telecommunications, electronics, and software makers in general.
Incubation period: Minimum of 3 months
Famous graduates: None yet
Launched by the University of Assiut in partnership with the European Commission, Hmaa offers incubation and acceleration programs for young entrepreneurs with a focus on industrial technology and bio-medical solutions.
It doesn’t offer any funding and is only for Assiut locals.
Innoventures runs an incubation program called Reactor. It’s open to 25 startups and the top three are eligible for 10,000 euros (US$11,000) of cash prizes and investment opportunities from Innoventures and VC4Africa.
The company also holds out the possibility of equity funding at the end of the once-a-year cycle.
With a special focus on early stage social enterprises and socially conscious startups, social causes NGO Nahdet El Mahrousa offers a nine month project development program called Masr Ta3mal.
It’s funded by Egypt’s Social Fund for Development, the European Union, and the World Bank and includes peer to peer collaboration programs, mentorship, funding when money is available, and demo days.
This is strictly a tech startup accelerator that focuses on taking one or two early stage (or idea stage) startups per cycle, held once a year, to guarantee complete focus.
Juicelabs offers an office space, mentorship by some of the brightest entrepreneurial minds in Egypt, $20,000 in funding as well as investor and partner exposure to participating startups.
The first university-based accelerator and incubator in Egypt, operating two cycles a year in spring and autumn, this program offers 20,000 Egyptian pounds (US$2,200) in seed capital to winning startups from all walks of life and is currently in its seventh cycle.
It also offers a coworking space, access to American University in Cairo campus facilities, mentorship, investor exposure and networking events. It recently partnered with CIB bank to launch a fintech accelerator with a 12 week program.
Incubation period: 3-12 months
Famous graduates: Ecotaqa
This incubator looks for startups with a sustainable impact. It’s open for startups working on food, renewable energy and water related issues. It provides office space, mentorship and an all-inclusive residency in one of its locations throughout Cairo and Upper Egypt cities such as Sohag and Assuit.
Founded by Environ and Delta Aromatic, this incubator has two options: incubation in exchange for 10-20 percent equity stake or direct funding for a 12-20 percent stake.
Another government incubator launched by the General Authority for Investment & Free Zones, Bedaya offers incubation space, 150,000 Egyptian pounds (US$17,000) in funding, technical and business development services, access to labs and manufacturing spaces, networking events among other features.
They have what is called the ‘Bedaya Fund’, which offers growth stage startups funding of between 2 million Egyptian pounds (US$225,000) and 50 million Egyptian pounds (US$5.6 million). The fund is managed by Al Ahly For Development and Investment (ADI) and is focused on businesses in food and agriculture, manufacturing, services, and IT.
According to their website, 60 percent of fund portfolio will be dedicated to governorates other than greater Cairo and will be invested directly for a period that ranges from three to five years with different exit scenarios.
Feature image via Gesr.