Since 2013, RiseUp has been striving to connect startups to relevant resources across Egypt and the region. The mission has always been to design and develop an environment where startups, entrepreneurs, innovators, and the enabling community can communicate and collaborate as efficiently and effectively as possible.
Very quickly, RiseUp realized that this was not an undertaking to be accomplished on it’s own and that the only way this up and coming grassroots community was going to connect and collaborate was if all the relevant stakeholders actively worked together on a better network. That’s the same premise behind RiseUp Summit, where very little of the annual entrepreneurship conference is built exclusively by RiseUp itself. Most of the features, activities, events, happenings, and content attendees interact with at the Summit is produced and executed by partners who believe in the ecosystem and believe in the ROI behind investing value and effort into the ecosystem.
So when the time came to activate the ecosystem network stakeholders and begin to address the issues facing the Egyptian entrepreneurship ecosystem and it’s startups’ success and potential, there was no shortage in volunteers ready to pick up the challenge. The main obstacle to tackle? Policy. Re-designing the policy framework that governs how startups do business and interact and engage with the rest of the ecosystem.
The Manifesto provides a detailed overview of the current state of the startup ecosystem, the startups engaged in it, the laws and policy that govern them, the circumstances of the network, and the participating stakeholders, from investment organizations to educational institutions and everyone in between. The Manifesto also outlines the challenges and proposes actionable solutions for different stakeholder groups participating in the ecosystem.
But what does this all mean? So happy you asked! In a few simple words, the Startup Manifesto initiative is a project created by the ecosystem, for the ecosystem, where the people and organizations involved in the entrepreneurship network are working to make starting and scaling a startup in Egypt much easier through programs designed through the Startup Manifesto document itself.
So, what’s the story? How did the Startup Manifesto come to be?
The Manifesto came to life one September evening at AUC Tahrir Campus’ Oriental Hall. A little over 30 ecosystem representatives gathered to discuss potentially working together on an ecosystem development advocacy and initiative project. In the hall were representatives of organizations across the board. Educational institutions, investment firms, NGOs, law firms, government, support organizations, and of course... a bunch of startups sat together and outlined the issues facing the ecosystem and how to design a process to develop it.
Thus, the idea to write a manifesto materialized. RiseUp started a specialized team working exclusively on gathering data and insights for the document. With support from a small but growing community of Manifesto first believers, the team slowly but surely started accumulating data, insights, and thoughts from as many key ecosystem players as possible. The following months featured dozens of conversations and interviews with representatives of ecosystem players, industry specific review sessions (think tanks), large forum-style meetings, countless hours of research and literature review, and even a 3-day ecosystem builder retreat!
By March 2018, we had an initial draft of the Startup Manifesto and a Big Ecosystem Meeting was called. The community participating in the initiative had grown to represent an even wider spectrum of relevant players willing to invest in the future. At the meeting, the initial draft was circulated amongst attendees who reviewed it and provided more input and feedback. Discussions materialized between organizations that highlighted key obstacles in their industries or fields of work.
In collaboration with our dear friends and first believers, el Rehla, the Startup Manifesto team organized a Rehla retreat in Ein Sokhna for the Manifesto community. 60 representatives of the ecosystem participated in the 3 day think tank designed to completely familiarize everyone involved with the initiative, onboard new believers, build the framework for the initiative, and decide on the next steps.
11 program initiatives were chosen to work on by the Manifesto community at the Rehla
Advocacy and Positioning
Purpose driven startups
Decentralization and Localization
Research and Data
Mentorship and Coaching
The community split into action groups dedicated to each program. Representatives of organizations joined the program that was most relevant to them and each group are planning and executing projects and campaigns dedicated to developing the ecosystem and its resources into a better network.
Ramadan came rolling in and we held the Startup Manifesto Community Iftar. Over 200 people attended a night of fine Ramadan dining under a starry Downtown Cairo sky on MO4’s beautiful Greek Campus rooftop venue. While everyone munched on some delicious Mumm-supplied food, the 11 program action groups presented their projects and their future plans.
Ever since then, the initiative has been steamrolling ahead exponentially. The Startup Manifesto document concluded at a certain point and was designed into book format, ready to be published. The initiative travelled to Alexandria and held it’s first event outside of Cairo, activating a huge element of the ecosystem with plans to visit more hubs. The 11 program groups have been working on policy, advocacy, and development in their respective specializations. Frequent meetings are being held and the Startup Manifesto team has been gearing up for the official public launch of the Startup Manifesto on the 4th of December with free published versions of the Startup Manifesto itself!
This is only the beginning, as the project grows, more and more relevant insights and ideas are collected and added. The story of the Startup Manifesto and it’s community of changemakers will be one for the history books and you can still be part of this journey. Explore the website and find out how you can contribute to the future of our startup ecosystem!
By: Sami Awa
Vice President for Marketing Affairs Microsoft & RiseUp.
December 1, 2018.
Enter: The Startup Manifesto. A development reform initiative in collaboration with the ecosystem community and key players. The initiative was born from the Startup Manifesto itself. A 114 (and growing) page action plan for the development of the ecosystem.