doroob: Cultivating a new generation of socially driven young creatives and entrepreneurs
Creativity surrounds us everywhere we go. It is reflected in the smallest details of our day: the clothes we wear, the buildings we live in, the music we listen to, and the art we observe. Creative industries contribute significantly to economic development on a national level through job creation and empowering local production, and on a social level through promoting inclusion and diversity. Given its inherent economic, social, and psychological benefits, more and more effort is now being dedicated to supporting the creative economy worldwide.
Egypt is a country with a great talent pool of creatives. According to a cluster mapping by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), the Architecture sector has more than 100,000 architects, with 6,000 new entrants annually. Additionally, Egyptian theater and film have historically been amongst the most popular and influential in the Arab region. The country also has one of the most promising handicrafts markets worldwide, estimated to be around $168.5 million USD in 2017. But, despite the abundance of talent and market size, the creative industries in Egypt still struggle to reach their fullest potential as creatives are faced with many challenges on their path to growth.
doroob is an integrated support program for empowering future entrepreneurs to develop practical life skills and create social impact. It aims to identify students and recent graduates with innovative ideas that tackle challenges in four economically and socially crucial sectors and support them in building their impact-driven businesses. The first edition of our doroob program focuses on creative industries and its sub-sectors, including interior & furniture design, handicrafts, and performing arts. Through the innovative and socially driven ideas presented by young entrepreneurs, we are hoping to find viable solutions to such challenges and support them in building their impact-driven businesses.
In furniture design, doroob has addressed challenges in sustainably enhancing production processes and creating unique and globally competitive products. In interior design, our program sheds light on the importance of producing sustainable raw materials in driving the industry forward. For Egypt’s realm of handicrafts, it is designed to empower innovative ideas that support local communities and small-scale crafters in accessing the market or sourcing sustainable yet affordable raw materials; and for performing artists, doroob opens the doors for ideas that enable them to openly express themselves, spread awareness and drive change through their art.
Driving social impact through entrepreneurship
24 young entrepreneurs from all around Egypt were chosen from over 250 applications to take part in the on-ground idea competition for the creative industries track. Prior to the idea competition, the teams received two online training sessions, which tapped into pitching fundamentals and the ideation process to prepare them for their pitches. Throughout the day, the teams presented their socially driven ideas to a jury of industry experts, who selected 8 teams to move on to the 3-month pre-incubation phase. Each idea was evaluated based on its social impact, how it addresses the challenges, feasibility, and scalability.
“The teams I have seen today have very high potential. Their ideas address the needs of the market and the customers. Additionally, the ideas are working to create high social and environmental impact, and many incorporate a technological edge. The majority of the team leads have a solid background and experience that will very much help them implement their idea,” says jury member Hadeer Shalaby, Founder of Freeziana.
Building the pipeline in the creative industry
The creative industry in Egypt is currently attracting a lot of attention. A nascent sector in many aspects, it has enormous potential for growth, innovation, and cultural development. In order to harness this potential and build a robust creative economy, it is essential to create a pipeline that supports and empowers creatives across the country.
“Through the doroob project, enpact, in collaboration with DROSOS FOUNDATION, we aim to build the pipeline in economically and socially crucial sectors, starting with the creative industries,” says Rawan Bassam, Egypt Country Manager, enpact.
One of the key aspects of building this pipeline is raising awareness about the creative industry and its significance in driving economic growth and cultural enrichment. By shedding light on the diverse range of creative professions, such as design, handicrafts, and performing arts, we can generate interest and attract talented individuals to pursue careers in these fields.
Empowering creatives is another crucial element of building the pipeline. Providing them with the necessary tools, resources, and support networks will enable them to thrive and succeed in their respective fields. This is what doroob aims to achieve through connecting participants with experts, mentors, and spaces that will support them and their ideas.
Furthermore, pushing forward cultural development and investment in the arts and crafts sector is essential for building a sustainable creative economy. Whether it is through public funding, private investments, or partnerships with corporations, it is crucial to provide opportunities for artists and craftspeople, develop infrastructure, and support cultural events and festivals. According to a report on the features of the cultural and creative industries (CCI) in Egypt, there have been initiatives to provide financing for cultural and creative projects and companies, although there are still hurdles when it comes to limited access to finance and business advice in the sector.
What comes next?
Moving forward, 8 teams are now selected to join the second phase of the program: three months of pre-incubation, where participants will receive comprehensive training, access to maker spaces and workstations, and technical support to support them with prototyping and developing their proof of concept.
The ideas selected include innovative approaches that refurbish second-hand items, source sustainable raw materials, create high-quality & local handmade products, and inclusive theater and drama production.
Get to know doroob’s Idea Competition winners, who made it to the Pre-incubation phase of the creative industry edition:
Jackleen Saad, leader of team Mulberry
Jackleen has a passion for volunteering with children with disabilities. After pursuing her Master’s degree in counseling, Jackleen spent three years conducting research on the human soul and psychological health. She believes strongly in the importance of giving people with disabilities, especially children, safe spaces to express themselves and voice their thoughts. Over the years, Jackleen has developed a comprehensive range of skills in creating safe resources of knowledge and learning for families and young mothers for the best ways of dealing with their differently able children.
Mahmoud AbdelSalam, leader of team Geneya
Mahmoud is a creative with a breadth of experience, and a dedicated professional who thrives on creativity and collaboration. With his diverse skill set and passion for storytelling, he strives to make meaningful and impactful moves in various mediums and fields.
In 2013, Mahmoud embarked on a content creation journey for a radio archive, where he managed content and web development, and led a multinational team. In addition to his writing prowess, he is an experienced graphic designer, having worked with various clients and companies in commercial and cultural spheres. With expertise in social media graphic design, branding, and print design, he has delivered impactful designs that align with my clients’ visions. As an independent filmmaker, he has spent six years crafting four short films and showcasing them at renowned festivals such as the Marrakech Short Film Festival, Liftoff NY, and the Malmo Arab Film Festival. You can watch his showreel here.
Moreover, Mahmoud possesses proficiency in video editing, film production, scriptwriting, and using tools like Adobe Premiere Pro. During his tenure at the Arab Digital Expression Foundation (ADEF), he organized film club events and curated content as part of his full-time role. He established monthly screenings and initiated an annual short film event called “أيام سيما دكة للفيلم العربي القصير,” providing a platform for emerging filmmakers to showcase their work. He holds a Bachelor’s degree in Screenwriting from the Higher Institute of Cinema, where he developed a deep understanding of storytelling and narrative structure. To complement his professional experience, he has acquired certification in the field of digital journalism through Reuters, as well as credentials in content marketing and inbound sales from HubSpot Academy. Now, he is working remotely as a webmaster at MGNT, a digital business development studio, based in the UK.
Maykel Safwat, leader of team Re-Fur
Maykel is a motivated architect. He graduated from Collége de la Salle with a French Baccalaureate in 2016 and embarked upon an academic journey at the University of Ain Shams, specializing in Environmental Architecture and Urbanism. In 2021, Maykel proudly obtained a dual degree from the University of East London. Currently serving as a Junior Architect at Wassef Design Group, a Consultant Office, he is dedicated to creating sustainable and innovative designs. Hand in hand with his father, Maykel also runs his furniture family business named “Moris Furniture”. Recently, he was recognized as a finalist by the Youth Architect Competitions (YAC) for a competition called “Eternal Bellenza”.
Sherif Nehad, leader of REALM
Sherif is a passionate entrepreneur with a background in sales, design consultation, and marketing. He holds a degree in business management and has worked in the creative design industry for several years, developing his skills in working with a diverse array of materials like pottery, halfa, wood, interior design, and sales. Sustainability is of great interest to him. Sherif dedicates his full knowledge and skills to both design and sustainability, developing REALM into a successful product brand. Furthermore, his experience as an account manager has allowed him to develop strong interpersonal and communication skills, which will be instrumental in building relationships with clients for growing his business.
Aya Saied, leader of team El Quseir Handmade Crafts
Aya graduated from the Faculty of Social Work at Helwan University and holds an educational diploma and a preliminary master’s degree in mental health. During her studies, she participated in several community activities. Among those initiatives is the Active Citizens Project, where she trained 30 young men and women in her city. After getting trained by the British Council, Aya worked on the Sea in Colors initiative, which aimed to restore one of the old streets inside the city, and it is currently a tourist attraction (Al-Saqifah Street). Aya also worked on organizing the Red Sea Festival in Darb 1718 in Cairo, which displayed the special cultural heritage of the Red Sea governorate. She also participated in organizing the People and Heritage initiative.
Furthermore, Aya organized the activity of free drawing and photography of the historical and tourist places of her city, Al-Qusayr, as a citizenship ambassador in the project of the United Nations Women’s Organization. There, she also organized many environmental projects which aimed to spread environmental awareness in the local community. Amongst those projects was a plastic research project in cooperation with Greenwich Company, with the support of the HIPCA Foundation and the organization of the Vision Association. The project aimed to educate children about the damages resulting from environmental pollution of marine organisms. She is currently the Executive Director of the Roaya Foundation in the city of Al-Qusayr.
Moemen Sobh, leader of team Visenleer
Momen is a 23-year-old climate activist from Portsaid, Egypt, who has a strong commitment to addressing environmental challenges in his community and beyond. Currently, he is a senior year student majoring in Architecture Engineering and Environmental Design, and the founder of MycoTech and Visenleer, two initiatives focused on promoting sustainability and eco-friendliness. Moemen’s passion for environmental conservation and sustainability started in 2019 when he began researching solutions to save his community in Egypt and Africa after his family lost their business due to the effects of climate change on the fishing industry. Since then, he has been actively involved in various initiatives focused on promoting sustainable practices and raising awareness of environmental challenges.
Moemen has been invited to represent Egypt in the United Nations and other international forums to showcase his projects and promote sustainability, including FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Environment to represent MycoTech at Dubai EXPO 2020 – Food for Future summit and the United Nations Water Conference in New York, USA. He also got selected for the Facebook / Meta Young Climate Prize and got a chance to be on the list of 25 under 25 for Facebook and got a chance to present the first youth climate action plan at COP 27. He has experience working in social enterprises and advocacy for SDG 14, which demonstrates his ability to navigate the complex landscape of sustainability and environmental conservation.
Zeinab Wagdy, leader of team WAJDI
Zeiab graduated with a business degree from Cairo University in 2015. She is now the FP&A section head of a real estate developer in Egypt. She is a self-taught footwear designer and pattern maker. Since 2020, she has been working on her project, WAJDI, a footwear project that creates affordable and wearable art that speaks to your personality. She realized that footwear in Egypt is one of the most challenging industries; it is also one of the most flourishing in early years, with the assistance and sponsorship from German, Italian and English craftsmen consultants. Now, with almost over 80 percent of these factories closed, Zeinab introduces her brand, WAJDI, as a revival for the industry.
Zeinab manages WAJDI solely while collaborating with factories undertaking the production process. After meeting almost every factory and workshop in Egypt, she has acquired knowledge and developed a strong network. Although she still faces challenges, her passion for creating shoes is magical to her and is worth all such struggles. When it comes to funding, Zainab is taking small steps throughout the process and is currently funding WAJDI with her savings whilst mitigating risks as much as she can. Her goal is to tackle the lack of quality and designs and to contribute along the way to solve such challenges more broadly in the industry, not just relating to her brand.
Abdallah Abdelrahman, leader of team Plastle
Abdallah is a researcher with an entrepreneurial mindset and a mission to accelerate sustainable development for all. His current focus is youth empowerment and the circular economy. He has an M.Sc. in Mechatronics Engineering and a B.Sc. in Engineering & Materials Science. His experience in social entrepreneurship propelled his passion for combining research, technology, and business in solving problems related to sustainable development. Abdallah’s previous experience in research projects on circular economy, as well as his technical engineering background, and social entrepreneurship journey, enabled him to develop his idea. He has joined multiple regional and international competitions and was able to be among the finalists in several ones. Furthermore, he has already piloted his idea’s concept back in university when he was the president of Enactus, at the German University in Cairo.