MAPPING THE AGRI-FOOD ECOSYSTEM IN THE MENA REGION
An Introduction to Food, Agriculture and Water Ecosystems in The Middle East and North Africa
Part IX – Egypt
Smart agriculture, food-tech, delivery, blockchain technologies, investors, accelerators, public organizations… How to keep up with the agri-food ecosystem and track the frontrunners in this world? To address this question, we try to create a database of the agri-food world and map it. Since the beginning of this year, we have dived into the MENA Region and published several maps as a part of our research work. For our ninth map in the region, we are about to zoom in on the Egypt Agri-Food Ecosystem and draw a clear picture.
The Agri-Food sector (from the farms to the supermarkets and catering) remains one of the most crucial sectors of the current economy and fundamental to face food security challenges in the upcoming years (1). To understand the sector, it is critical to understand the stakeholders in it. Therefore, while creating the map of the agri-food ecosystem, we aim to know the actors in it and understand the relationship between the involved parties such as governmental organizations, start-ups, companies, accelerators, academia, etc.
When we look at the agri-food sector for a specific country, we see complex networks. Egypt has no exception. Several actors engaged in the agri-food businesses; with this map, we aim to catch a comprehensive view of the agri-food ecosystem in Egypt.
Egypt’s Entrepreneurship Ecosystem: An Ecosystem of Potential
A bridge between Africa and the Middle East, the cradle of the civilization, land of Nile and pyramids, Egypt, with its population of nearly 100 million people, is a crucial country in the MENA Region for entrepreneurship. The country has immense growth potential; the investment volume shows it clearly. According to Magnitt “2020 Egypt Venture Investment Report, Egypt-based startups received $190M investment, a record amount of total funding. Moreover, the country ranked second and accounted for 22% of the number of deals in the MENA region(2).
Governmental & Public Organizations
We started our research to understand which governmental organizations are involved in the sector. Governments have a pivotal role to play as stakeholders in driving the growth of the entrepreneurship ecosystem. The Egyptian Government also gives importance to the promotion of entrepreneurship in the country. The Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation has created several different startup programs, such as Falak Startup. Falak Startups aims to find and empower talented and ambitious seed-stage tech startup founders and help them thrive in the region’s rapidly changing entrepreneurship landscape(3). TIEC, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology initiative, is another governmental entity that funds startups in the information and communication technology sector(4).
Moreover, according to Startup Scene News, the Egyptian Food Security Project proposed by the Egyptian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to the 2021 World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS) has been selected among the top five best projects for the prize competition(5). The project focuses on food security and aims to boost agriculture production by providing local farmers with the required know-how to increase food production. In addition, you will discover many more governmental, public, and non-profit organizations that work for Egypt’s blooming entrepreneurship ecosystem on our map.
Startup: A Promising Ecosystem
As Kök Projekt, we are an agri-food startup accelerator. We follow startups from all over the world. We used our database and searched on the internet for Egypt’s startup world developments to create our map. Egypt has vibrant, tech-savvy, ambitious entrepreneurs. Thus, the country has a good food and agriculture entrepreneurship ecosystem. One of them is Mozare3 which raised over $1 million in pre-seed at the end of May 2021(6). Mozare3 is an ag-tech startup that helps farmers sell their crops by working with institutional buyers like processors of frozen vegetables and large wholesalers and retailers. You will find many more startups on our map working on various fields from smart farming, marketplace/e-commerce, delivery, food services to waste management, etc.
Incubator & Accelerator & Support Organizations
Being an entrepreneur, starting a business, creating a startup is more than sleepless nights. Entrepreneurship is a long journey of coping with uncertainty. Even if almost all of them have a fighter mentality, entrepreneurs need support and advice to turn their ideas into valuable business. Incubators, accelerators, and support platforms are the primary helpers during their journey. They often develop a golden touch for entrepreneurs to exceed obstacles. In Egypt, With innovation and entrepreneurship flourishing, incubators, accelerators, and support organizations are growing to empower entrepreneurs to launch and scale their startups. There are many government initiatives and private enterprises providing accelerator and incubator services in the Egyptian entrepreneurship ecosystem. One prominent accelerator is Flat6Labs, which offers many programs for entrepreneurs. An excellent example of support organizations in the country is Startup Haus Cairo, home for workspaces, services, and an entrepreneurial community. You will find many more incubators, accelerators, and support organizations on our map.
Events: Make Networking Easier
Events are an excellent opportunity for startups to network with investors, entrepreneurs, and experts. In Egypt, there are Techne Summit, Riseup, and Vested Summit events. Apart from the Riseup Summit, GrEEK Campus hosts several meetups and events.
Universities can contribute to local economic development and innovation by using the outcomes of faculty research and applications. For example, in Egypt, Nile University has NUTechspace, a technology-focused program supporting tech startups. Another academic initiative is the Venture Lab of The American University in Cairo. V-Lab is Egyp’s first university-based accelerator program.
As Kök Projekt, we are an innovation partner for the food, agriculture, and water sector companies. We work with them closely. In recent years, private companies have also become active supporters of the startup ecosystem. They also support incubator and accelerator programs to reap the benefits of innovation. In Egypt, one of the country’s prominent banks, EGBank, offers an entrepreneurship support program called MINT(6). The support includes an incubation program, career coaching workshops, and more. In our Egypt Agri-Food Ecosystem map, you will find many companies from various sectors such as food production, CPG, finance, agricultural production, etc.
Investors play a significant role in the success and growth of a business. Access to money has a critical importance for startups, and investors offer quick access to capital. They guide entrepreneurs by providing mentorship, sharing their knowledge to make the business successful. They assist in business plans and advice to manage the funds accurately. In the Egypt ecosystem, one prominent VC is Egypt Ventures, which empowers the entrepreneurial ecosystem by investing in accelerators and co-investing in high-growth enterprises. Moreover, there are Algebra Ventures which invested in Elmenus, a food services startup, and A15, which invested in Mumm, a food delivery startup. You will find many other investment bodies and firms on our map.
This is not a full-scale map of the Egypt Agri-Food Ecosystem.
You can reach our 2021 Egypt Agri-Food Ecosystem Map here.