“Timing, perseverance, and ten years of trying will eventually make you look like an overnight success,” co-founder of Twitter Bizz Stone says. Being an entrepreneur is basically creating an opportunity for yourself; thinking that if opportunity doesn’t knock, you just build a door. Just look at Egypt’s Abdullah Hussein, co-founder of Cairo Runners, who turned disappointment into a dream come true; or Aly Mohamed, who uses augmented reality to allow deaf people to see sounds they are not able to hear through his startup Vound. So we've decided to do just that, open doors. As incredibly eventful weeks loom in the horizon for Middle Eastern startups, we’ve decided to compile a list of some of the most promising events for Arab entrepreneurs. From the Digital Summit in Dubai, to entrepreneurial camps for kids, to a two-week programme for youth in Gouna, here are 10 of the most exciting and impact-driven events to attend in the coming months.
1. MBC's Shabab 2030 initiative. Guided by the belief that we can solve our problems by unleashing the creativity within our youth, MBC group has launched its cooperative initiative Shabab 2030 to scale up social ventures' growth and support them with both the know-how and funding to contribute to the success of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted by the United Nations in 2015 for a better future in 2030. Qualified participants will get a chance to network and get mentorship, leadership training, workshops, and funding. The initiative is holding an introductory session on April 3rd at the Zain Innovation Campus in Jordan, and they are accepting applications through this link.
2. The World Economic Forum (WEF)'s top 100 startups. Ahead of their annual regional conference set to take place near Jordan’s Dead Sea coast from May 19th to 21st, the WEF is setting off to find the region's 100 best startups through their initiative Startup4IR, launched in partnership with the International Finance Corporation (IFC). The international non-profit is aiming to pick up the MENA's top startups, in order to integrate them into the Fourth Industrial Revolution - Information & Communications Technology - a theme that was adopted at the 2016 WEF conference in Davos. Their deadline is on April 3rd.
3. Dubai's Step Conference has launched its application for one of the biggest gatherings and networking events in the MENA region, set to take place on April 5th, 6th, and 7th at the Dubai International Marine Club in the UAE. This interactive gathering brings thousands of entrepreneurs, investors and tech and media enthusiasts together with the best in the technology, digital and entertainment industries in a 2-day event loaded with talks, exhibitions and signature happenings.
4. Maker Faire Cairo. This year, the now globally buzzing event is extending to an entire Maker Week, aiming to spread the word of the Maker movement in the MENA region. The week will include several satellite events organised across many Egyptian governorates and Arab countries during the week between April 1st and April 7th. Under the umbrella of the initiative, the hustlers behind Fablab Egypt are organising a special day for kids, on April 7th (Orphans' Day), hosting underprivileged kids from shelters, NGOs, and public schools. The main event, however, will be held on April 8th at Cairo's Smart Village, featuring drone battles, car racing and the coolest robots. Last year, they surprised us with the Hulkbuster Iron Man. What will they come up with next?
5. Arcadia Camps for children. Arcadia Camps provides programmes dedicated to experiential learning to middle and elementary school children in order to build independent future leaders with an entrepreneurial mindset, teaching children how to think instead of what to think. Inspiring children between the ages of 9-18 can increases their awareness of their potential and increases their positive impact. Their next camp, set to take place on April 8th, will showcase the work of children from the Manchester International School. For more information, visit Arcadia.
6. El Re7la Camp has just opened its new application for campers, entrepreneurs, business professionals, doers, decision makers, and educators to connect with a new community and learn from each other. The camp's methodology is based on connecting both introverts and extroverts throughout four days to learn from each other and make things happen together. They are accepting applications until April 8th through their site.
7. Cairo's Creative Industry Summit. Set to take place on April 10th and April 11th at the Four Seasons Nile Plaza, Creative Industry Summit are organising a series of events and activities that capitalise on the huge potential of Egypt’s creative eco-system and connects its stakeholders. A unique networking and learning experience, the summit is also a matchless opportunity to hear from local and regional stakeholders across different creative sectors representing brands, agencies, and academia. The summit not only appeals to marketeers, advertisers, designers, publicists, creative agencies, but also to entrepreneurs and business owners, as well as creative freelancers and career seekers looking for inspiration. For more information, visit the Creative Industry Summit's website.
8. GESR's incubation cycle for social startups. The initiative, which springs off Misr-El Kheir Foundation and its commitment to contributing to a knowledge-based economy, is focusing on startups tackling socio-economic challenges in the fields of water, energy, food, health and education. The oganisation aims to establish social business incubators across Egypt's 28 governorates and is now launching their third incubation cycle to support to go-to-market journeys of eight startups with a promising technology, a functional prototype, a viable business model, and social impact. The winning startups will receive financial, technical and business support during the 6-9 months incubation. To apply, visit GESR's website and submit proposals before April 12th.
9. Flat6labs Beirut's Accelerator: In partnership with ArabNet, Flat6Labs Beirut is launching a new round of their accelerator program to help Lebanese startups grow, providing not only seed fund but also mentorship opportunities. Through their wide-reaching network, they will help the Lebanese entrepreneurs with opportunities to scale their businesses in regional and international markets. Their deadline is May 15th. Apply through the Flat6Labs website.
10. SPARK entrepreneurship camp. SPARK is a developer of change-makers and cultivator of young leaders through a variety of entrepreneurship, educational and youth programmes for the brightest minds setting off to transform Egypt and the Middle East, from middle schoolers, to high school and university students. The camp was first launched in 2007 by Sherife Abdel-Messih, CEO of Future Energy Corporation, and has seen the rise of their change-maker alumni, such as Coterique’s founder Dana Khater, Mohamed Sherif El Dib, founder of Monkeys and Tuxedos, and CairoSitters' mastermind Hossam Taher. Held for 13 days of entrepreneurship development, personal growth, and beach fun at El Gouna, the summer camp for middle school students will be held between July 13th and 25th. Last year, the camp shined a light on incredible teenage entrepreneurs who were recognised by Google for their innovative approaches. For applications and more information, visit SPARK Ventures' website.