MADE to empower young entrepreneurs in Egypt: Driving innovation to tackle water scarcity
Water is a basic need for life – it’s the most straightforward fact since the dawn of humankind. However, as we are in 2023, some people take water abundance for granted, while others, around 2 billion people around the world, suffer from poor access to drinking water and almost half of the planet’s inhabitants lack access to proper sanitation services.
On the occasion of World Water Day 2023, the United Nations published a report describing the global water crisis as an imminent risk, calling out to take collaborative actions. Because, it goes without saying, water scarcity adversely affects all life aspects, from food security to health care and, eventually, economic growth. It’s a snowballing situation after several years of water misuse, overconsumption across various sectors, and climate change. In order to start to reverse the damage and slow the consumption, action needs to be taken now.
In the same month, March 2023, as we kicked off the second edition of the Manufacturing Advancement and Development in Egypt (MADE) program, we found a glimpse of hope with the innovative ideas presented by aspiring entrepreneurs and innovators working on securing the sustainability of water resources across Egypt’s manufacturing sector.
MADE to inspire innovation in youth
Over 20 teams of young entrepreneurs from all around Egypt joined us on the ground at Startup Haus Cairo, our hub in North Africa, for the program’s idea competition. Prior to joining, they received a two-day training on pitching and prototyping fundamentals to get fully ready for this phase. They pitched their innovative ideas to a jury of business and manufacturing experts, who selected the top eight teams to advance to the program’s second phase based on the ideas’ innovation level, feasibility, and scalability.
The purpose of the idea competition is to spark innovation. For an entrepreneur to innovate solutions, they need to feel the urge for change – they strive to challenge the status quo and hence come up with the right solutions at the right time. It requires a youthful spirit to steer this forward, and Egypt has proved to have the best talent force for that.
Why the focus on youth?
Egypt boasts one of the most flourishing entrepreneurial scenes in the region. With youth representing around 40 percent of its over 100 million population, the country’s startup ecosystem has evolved in the past few years with new generations of young entrepreneurs who aim to solve pressing global challenges.
On the other hand, the country has already reached the water poverty stage, as declared by the Minister of Local Development in May 2022; with almost 550 cubic meters of water as a yearly share per capita, the Egyptians are working to maintain an amount that is halfway below the minimum rate that is needed to meet the people’s needs of water and food. Depending on the River Nile as the sole freshwater source and having a growing population, Egypt urgently needs to sustain and avail more water systems than ever.
Opening doors for youth to bring impact-driven innovation
During the idea competition of MADE’s water track, the young participants presented promising solutions for securing water availability and enhancing water usage efficiency for the manufacturing sector. Their ideas ranged from intelligent irrigation systems to simple wastewater treatment and wave energy utilization.
Following the idea competition, the top eight teams are now in the program’s second phase, which is three months of pre-incubation. They receive comprehensive training and access to maker spaces and workstations. With the support of experts from MADE’s technical partner, Fab Lab Egypt, the teams also receive weekly coaching sessions for technical applications. Their aim is to develop a proof of concept and prototype their ideas by June 2023, where each team will pitch their progress to a jury of experts for the chance to advance to the final stage, a six-month incubation.
MADE program is implemented in cooperation with GIZ Egypt, with an overarching goal of driving the manufacturing realm in Egypt towards the sustainability nexus – energy, water, and food – through empowering young entrepreneurs. In September 2022, we launched the first edition with a focus on tackling industrial energy challenges. And due to the interlinking nature of water scarcity and food security challenges, the second edition has launched with two cohorts for the two tracks, running simultaneously. If you are interested in getting involved and supporting as a mentor, expert or partner, you can fill out this form and the MADE team will be reaching out to you.
Get to know MADE’s Idea Competition winners, who made it to the Pre-incubation phase of the water track:
Nour El-deen Magdy, team lead of OWM
Nour graduated from the faculty of Engineering at Helwan University. He is a software engineer and research assistant with expertise in Python, Java, and C++ and proven integration problem-solving tenure of 3 years. Skilled in artificial intelligence, data science, the internet of things, cloud computing, and system architectures, Noor took part in developing academic and educational content tackling these topics.
Maha Ahmed, team lead of Smart Sip
Maha is a mechanical engineering student specializing in mechatronics at Cairo University. Her journey in making and fabrication started seven years ago from being a STEM school Fab-lab member leading it, training the new team, and operating the machines. In 2021, Maha earned a silver maker badge at san3a-tech after she finished a three-month hands-on training program, “Maker Diploma,” instructing and guiding students through the diploma modules and final projects. Later in 2021, Maha joined the Sector-B5 designers program after she had finished a three-month internship practicing digital fabrication and prototyping concepts as a technical product designer by putting design for circular economy ideas into action. Recently, Maha has worked as a part-time product designer at Creatables 3D, where design for 3D-Printing and recycling concepts are utilized in developing a new product.
Karem Tawfeek, team lead of Sputnik
Karem is a student at the sustainable engineering department at Cairo University. Interested in sustainability, he firmly believes the world can be a better place with more green initiatives. Together with his team, Kareem joined various competitions, including Finalist NASA Space App Cairo, and the Dimond Challenge, and achieved 4th place at the Real Life international competition.
Hammad Mohamed, team lead of Safe2go
Hammad graduated from the science faculty at Ain Shams University, interested in R&D and environmental solutions, especially those related to water and energy challenges. He worked as a farm manager and lab chemist conducting honey bee production analysis. Currently, he is focusing on developing environmental solutions for factories and markets.
Sondos Tarek, team lead of Sapsoil
Sondos Tarek is a College of Home Economics student interested in sustainable development and climate issues. She studied in Kuwait and participated in various entrepreneurship competitions, including Ebneeha and Intecmed, along with joining the incubator of Helwan University. Sondos is now working on projects targeting agriculture process enhancement and productivity improvement.
Abdelrahman Arafa, team lead of Mega Watt
Abdelrahman Arafa is a student at Assuit University’s Faculty of Engineering in the mechatronics department. He has always been interested in automation and renewable energy, particularly wave energy. Abdelrahman worked on several projects involving automation and embedded systems. Along with his studies, he also participated in several training programs with the national holding company for water, in addition to testing and reviewing wave energy generators.
Ahmed Ramadan Ouf, team lead of Farawlatech
Ahmed Ramadan holds a Bachelor’s degree in agriculture engineering from Benha University. He joined various training programs for entrepreneurs and is currently on his way to establishing his experience to launch his startup, besides grasping knowledge about the green economy and circular business models.
Mahmoud Abdo, team lead of PPS
Mahmoud Abdo is an electrical and renewable energy engineer holding a master’s degree in electrical engineering. He has been interested in green technologies, especially in water and agriculture. Mahmoud gained a good experience in the renewable energy sector and contracting sector. Besides his work, he participated as an external lecturer in Mansourah University’s Faculty of Engineering, aiding the students to relate the theoretical study to the market. Mahmoud now focuses on developing smart irrigation techniques to obtain locally manufactured intelligent irrigation systems in Egypt.