Business Lessons from Egyptian Startup Revolution

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Business Lessons from Egyptian Startup Revolution

 Image credit: iqoncept / 123RF Stock Photo

When the going gets tough, the tough get going. One place where things have grown tougher is Egypt. At the same time, however, it has also produced a wave of innovation, in some cases from unexpected sections of the population.

Coming up with new business ideas and then using business banking accounts and funding to pursue them, more and more people in Egypt are starting online businesses. Such ventures aren’t just the solution there, so it seems, but are gradually becoming the general way forward.  And they’re teaching us some business lessons along the way.

Doing the right thing

Traditionally, women stay at home to look after the baby in Egypt, so they’re one of the surprise sections of the country’s population to have started new business ventures. It's not about setting up a blog to make a few extra Egyptian pounds here and there, but about serious online businesses.

If you’ve never raised a child before, or even if you have, parenthood is a journey that’s as scary as it is thrilling. Sometimes it’s hard to know whether you’re doing it ‘right’. Realizing that many mothers share the same worries when bringing up children — such as health, sleeping patterns, diets, etc. — one Egyptian mother set up a business to create MummyChitChats, a special cell phone app for mothers in the Middle East. The app provides them with reliable information, and by doing so, with reassurance.

Count on me

Another Egyptian startup that has picked up on the need to do things right created Supermama. This online community for mothers, mothers-to-be, and even fathers provides verified advice and information from specialists on all aspects of parenthood.  Importantly, it caters for the Middle East, providing content in both Arabic and English.

The founder’s original thinking was that not many women in the Arab world knew English, and that they need sources of information they could trust. This inspired the localization of the website content.

Trust me

Meanwhile, a team of young entrepreneurs have set up Jumia Egypt to increasing shopping convenience for consumers. Growing rapidly, they hope it will become Egypt’s largest shopping mall.

However, while Egypt’s new entrepreneurs are embracing online business ventures to combat the economic turbulence, surveys and business feedback indicates that consumers still don’t trust online retailers. They’d rather enter a store; ask questions about products and services; then pay where they can see the transaction taking place. Jumia Egypt is looking into how its own services can increase potential business.

What can you take from this?

These tales from the Egyptian business revolution teach us a serious of business lessons:

    Identify a specific need, and you may have an innovative business idea

    Tailor your product or service to your customer’s needs

    Make your business one that people feel they can trust

    Ask for feedback to improve your business, and to keep up the good work.

The financial crisis has produced all kinds of developments in Egypt. One of them has been a promising new wave of entrepreneurs who are open to the solutions online business can provide — both for them and for Egypt’s economy. As they pursue their business ventures, we can learn from their exploits, for as we’ve seen: inspiration, innovation, and learning can come from the unlikeliest sources. Trust them, they know.

If you’d like information on starting up a business, you can visit the US Chamber of Chamber website at

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