Sparking a future of innovative energy solutions MADE by young entrepreneurs: Three teams, three stories, and a lot of progress and determination
From idea to product: As tempting as the notion might sound, this journey for every entrepreneur has always carried with it loads of challenges, sometimes setbacks, but also opportunities for knowledge, network building, and self-development – this is the essence of the journey. But the real treasure of it lies within the moment the entrepreneur realizes that their idea has emerged from the cocoon of its initial concept and evolved into a viable, marketable solution to spread its wings and enter the market.
The three teams – Green Flames, Eco-rise, and Windy – have experienced this transformation. As part of the Energy Track in the Manufacturing Advancement and Development in Egypt (MADE) program, we had the opportunity to work with them and witness the progress of their energy solutions from the very beginning.
The program was kicked off with each of the teams participating in the idea competition, the program’s first phase, alongside 22 other teams of young entrepreneurs joining on the ground from all over Egypt. The potential of their ideas qualified them for the 3-month pre-incubation, after which they advanced to the 6-month incubation, where they embarked on setting up their minimum viable products (MVPs) with access to tailored business and technical training, dedicated mentoring, and an in-kind support package.
And now, as they are reaching the end of the MADE scholarship, we are happy to see them on track, equipping their solutions for the market and getting ready to start their businesses.
So, how was their experience with the program? How did their ideas evolve through it?
In the coming lines, you will meet the story of each team, with highlights of the challenges they faced, the development their ideas went through, and glimpses of the personal growth they have experienced. It’s been a 9-month journey of transformation, and we are immensely proud of being part of it.
Green Flames: Innovation driven by a growing family of young entrepreneurs
Led by Moataz Mostafa, Physicist and Researcher at the British University in Egypt, team Green Flames introduces a welding device that utilizes hydrogen energy to generate high-temperature flames of up to 3000 Celisus with zero carbon emissions. Not only solving welding hazards, one of the biggest firing challenges in Egypt’s manufacturing sector, but Green Flames also aims to provide their product as a 100% locally manufactured, safer, more efficient, and affordable alternative to conventional welding machines.
“I couldn’t design a critical component in the device without Mona’s expertise. Also, ensuring its user-friendliness would never be possible without Sarah’s input and knowledge. We complete each other – and this is how innovation and change can happen” – Moataz Mostafa, Leader of Team Green Flames, one of MADE Program’s Energy Track Teams.
To build the prototype of Green Flames’ idea, Moataz teamed with his wife, Mona Samir, a Chemist and Researcher at the British University in Egypt. Her take on designing the water-splitting cells, an integral part of the welding device, was crucial for efficiency enhancement.
Moataz’s sister, Sarah Mostafa, who happened to be an industrial designer and lecturer at Helwan University, also joined the team. With her design skills, she gave the device an edge in easy usability, ensuring that even those with little technical knowledge would be able to operate it efficiently.
What’s even more remarkable is that this young family of entrepreneurs was preparing for their first baby alongside growing their business idea throughout the course of the program.
It was impressive that besides focusing on prototyping their idea, this small family received their first baby in the first month of the pre-incubation phase. As they ventured into the incubation phase, the team, including the new mother, Mona, has been attending the business sessions on the ground with Analia, the newborn daughter, joining on board. And as baby Analia grows, so does Green Flame’s idea – a beautiful reflection on their journey of nurturing and development.
Over the six months of MADE program’s incubation, the innovative idea of Green Flames went through various iterations and adaptations from business and technical perspectives:
- The team refined their business model while exploring revenue streams different from what they had earlier anticipated.
- The technical coaching sessions by Fab Lab Egypt guided them toward new technologies for the hardware implementation of their device by integrating a custom-made control system.
- They realized further design adaptations to their MVP that helped enhance the production rate from 0.5 liters of gas per minute to 7 liters – which is the average requirement for the most common welding procedures
Finally, in preparation for the demo day, the final event in MADE program, Green Flames aims to test the MVP at one of the industrial factories in Egypt. In addition, the team focuses on developing their marketing strategy, with the goal of reaching their target audience of manufacturers in Egypt.
Eco-rise: Innovative solution for factories to go green
From a graduation project to a business idea to a functional MVP—Led by Omneya Ahmed, Mechanical Power Engineer, Team Eco-rise introduces their eco-friendly burner as a renewable energy source for factory combustion processes with a low carbon footprint.
Together with Elaf Moataz, an Automation Software Testing Engineer, and Seif Hazem, a Mechanical Engineer and Project Manager, Omneya shaped the team Eco-rise with a vision of driving sustainability across Egypt’s manufacturing sector.
The burner idea started as their graduation project at the Engineering Department of Helwan University a year ago. Today, they are taking it further to produce it as a 100% locally manufactured product that can support factories across Egypt in going green.
“Factories can be eco-friendly! It all lies in the energy source utilized. This source can be cleaner, with lower carbon emissions, more affordable, and efficient at the same time. And our burner serves it all.” — Omneya Ahmed, Leader of Team Eco-rise, one of MADE Program’s Energy Track Teams.
Throughout MADE Program’s pre-incubation and incubation phases, Eco-rise entrepreneurs dedicated their time to working at Fab Lab Egypt’s makerspace and the combustion lab of Helwan University. There, the team worked closely with technical experts and the academic staff from the university’s Mechanical Engineering department to test the prototype and experiment with further adaptions to perfect their final MVP.
Mentoring is crucial for growth and development
MADE program’s community of business and industry experts was also there by the side of Eco-rise step by step along their journey. As cited by Omneya, the insights they received during the training and mentoring sessions guided them to apply multiple development stages to their product:
- During the pre-incubation phase, the team developed their first business model canvas that they further updated during the incubation period, according to the product’s design progress.
- From a technical standpoint, Eco-rise enhanced the burner’s body structure by incorporating the assemble-and-disassemble concept into its design for easy and seamless maintenance.
- To ensure safety and user-friendliness, the team developed an intelligent control system, enabling its users to adjust the flame levels.
Prior to presenting their product on the demo day, Team Eco-rise aims to first explore their burner’s accreditation possibilities in order to enter the market. Their target segment includes factories that undergo heating, electricity generation, water desalination, grain drying, and construction materials or pharmaceutical manufacturing across Egypt.
Windy: Harnessing the power of the wind vertically!
Windy is a team of three engineers and aspiring entrepreneurs: Ahmed M. El-Shahat, Mohammed Raiyah, and Mohamed Saad. Their futuristic vision of sustainable communities has been their driving force toward developing and growing their innovative idea: a small-scale vertical axis wind turbine. Through it, the team is introducing a decentralized solution for the lack of access to electricity and the inadequate infrastructure that many regions across Egypt suffer from. Their solution can serve various sectors, including agriculture, telecommunications, and transportation electrification.
“We believe that harnessing the wind is a key solution for energy and environment issues in Egypt. For that, we aim to provide our solution with a smart and efficient design that can contribute to a sustainable future for the coming generations,” — Ahmed El-Shahat, Leader of Windy, one of MADE’s Teams in the Energy Track.
During their participation in MADE program’s activities, Team Windy has proven remarkable determination in growing their idea. The challenge they first faced was prototyping the vertical design of the turbine that can also work for generating customized amounts of energy upon demand. With the support of Omar Seif El Islam, Digital Fabrication Expert at Fab Lab Egypt, the team was able to experiment with intuitive software programs along with utilizing their 3D printing technology to develop the MVP.
How to adapt and adopt agility
Exploring opportunities, asking questions, and being alert to market updates – this is what it takes for an entrepreneur to stay ahead, and that’s what Windy has been doing along their journey with MADE program. The team was able to develop a growth mindset that embraces agility as a way to implement the solution and penetrate the market:
- Guided by the program’s community of mentors and experts, Windy established a business model that boasts various revenue streams besides manufacturing and selling the turbine itself, which might be pricey, especially in the early stages of their startup.
- With the support package that Windy received throughout the incubation phase, the team was able to contract a digital media expert, who created Windy’s brand identity and kickstarted its online presence on LinkedIn, laying the foundation for its B2B approach.
- Windy reached out to potential customers to get to know their requirements, upon which they applied changes to their MVP’s design and the business model to meet a diverse range of needs besides adopting various revenue streams.
In the meantime, the Windy entrepreneurs are investigating validation techniques for the software that operates the turbine alongside a physical verification for the MVP that they aim to conduct as a small-scale simulated wind turbine.
Empowering young entrepreneurs to drive manufacturing toward sustainability
The journey of these three teams, as the initial cohort of the program, was transformative for us as it has been for them because as the program continues, we realize the boundless potential that lies within the courage and determination of youth. The limitless possibilities they hold in their ideas are the catalyst we all need to build a sustainable future.
Currently, we, as well as the participants, are rolling up our sleeves in preparation for the upcoming demo day, taking place in December 2023, to mark the culmination of the program. During this event, Green Flames, Eco-rise, and Windy, alongside the six teams in MADE Program’s Water and Food Tracks, will showcase the progress they achieved with their ideas over the duration of the program.
MADE Program was launched in September 2022 in partnership with GIZ Egypt with the focus of empowering future entrepreneurs to work together on developing innovative solutions for the manufacturing sector in Egypt. It has been a fresh, exciting chapter in our work at enpact.
In the same vein, we aim to continue and extend our efforts to empower more and more of the determined entrepreneurs and changemakers across their journeys. With tailored support of training, mentoring and networking opportunities, we strive to enable them to build their businesses and add value to the world with their own solutions.
If you are interested in getting involved and supporting the program, you can fill out this form, and the MADE team will be reaching out to you.