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Catalyzing Egyptian Entrepreneurs- Gessur Initiative

One Global Economy (OGE) has made significant progress with Catalyzing Egyptian Entrepreneurs, the Gessur Initiative in Alexandria, Egypt. Since July 2012, OGE has been working in partnership with local entrepreneurship organization, Entrepreneurs Business Forum Egypt (EBF) to bring together young mobile application developers with small business owners. In Arabic, gessur means bridges. Through the program, application developers can identify demand for and develop products that serve the needs of the small business owners, small business owners may improve their business technical skills through the use of communications technology, and both groups inform the creation of digital and mobile tools that serve Egyptian small businesses and motivate computer science and engineering students to start technology-focused social ventures.

In August, OGE and EBF established a partnership with the Alexandria Business Association, which grants small loans to micro-entrepreneurs. OGE and EBF designed a survey aimed at identifying the challenges small businesses face in managing, growing and marketing their enterprises, and understanding their current technical skill set.

Throughout August and September, OGE and EBF conducted intensive interviews with 30 micro- enterprise owners, who are members of the Alexandria Business Association and include specialized owners of manufacturing companies, printing houses, as well as woodwork and glass workshops.  The videos featuring these interviews are available here:http://www.gessurinitiative.org/viewprojects.php.

OGE launched Gessur Initiative on October 14 at Alexandria University with a selected group of micro-enterprise owners, application developers and key stakeholders from the Alexandria Business Association and Alexandria University, including an entrepreneurship and innovation center for student entrepreneurs and a student-run engineering society.

At the launch, OGE introduced the project to both participating populations and launched the official website in Arabic and English: http://www.gessurinitiative.org, a platform that will feature pictures and videos of training workshops, allow application developers to apply to the program and submit mobile application ideas, and most importantly, host the online competition for the best business solution.   The site is designed to feature participants’ stories as well as track application development. It fosters understanding of current small business owners’ needs through their interviews. This way, participating application developers, as well as developers everywhere, may design targeted and locally-relevant mobile phone and web-based application solutions that support small Egyptian business growth. The website also seeks to increase collaboration and problem-solving between local micro-businesses and the growing population of young computer science and engineering leaders.

A core component of the website is that it facilitates a public voting system. Leaders from the local and international Egyptian business community will be invited to weigh in on the applications. The best business solution will receive a cash reward and the following top concepts will receive 40 hours of training and mentoring during Global Entrepreneurship Week.  Application developers will also be introduced to the Egyptian Business Angeles Network and be given the opportunity to present their products to potential funders.

As the competition begins, OGE looks forward to further engaging micro-enterprise owners and application developers in a series of training workshops, which will be locally led by OGE, EBF and the Alexandria Business Association.  The combined curriculum will have a particular emphasis on business planning and the use of technology in marketing and growing a small business. Small enterprise owners will create business plans that integrate their newly acquired skills and applications into their businesses. Application developers will create business plans that outline ways they can leverage their digital products and market them to a wider audience.

Read about the launch of Gessur Initiative in Alexandria here: http://www.ahram.org.eg/Economy/News/180797.aspx

Employment through Technology and Innovation

This January, One Global Economy, in partnership with the Christian Evangelical Organization for Social Services (CEOSS) and Hands Along the Nile (HANDS), launched the Egypt Employment Beehive ,a national-level portal and two additional portals localized for the Cairo and Minya governorates. The Egypt Employment Beehive is supported by USAID/Egypt’s Employment through Technology and Innovation initiative, and is complemented with an asset-based youth employment and livelihood program, with information technology as the principal means of delivery.

In June 2012, OGE and local partners CEOSS, launched the Asset Mapping Initiative in Cairo and Minya to map out the current skill set of unemployed youth and human resource needs of local businesses in an effort to connect qualified job-seekers to available outsourcing opportunities in their communities.   The data will be entered into a job-matching system, which will be hosted online on the Egyptian Employment and Economic Information Beehive, as well as exist in a mobile format developed by partner, Souktel, to match job-seekers to opportunities via SMS.

OGE conducted a Stakeholders Engagement Workshop with local NGOs and businesses to build consensus around content addressing issues of employment and entrepreneurship specific to the local community.

OGE has also implemented its Community Connectors digital literacy training program at 30 rural computer centers with the aim of training 1200 local youth in technology, leadership and entrepreneurship throughout Cairo and Minya, and has created a social network platform in Arabic, which will serve as an online collaboration space between trainers and connector youth enrolled in the program.