10 case studies highlight the challenges and opportunities facing entrepreneurship in the region

Unemployment and lack of financial inclusion have been longstanding issues facing youth in the region, as a result of persistent structural issues.

In the past few years, unstable socio-economic developments have drive more and more youth toward building their own businesses and attempting to turn their passion and sense of purpose into a viable business model.

In “Entrepreneurship in the Arab World,” a book by the El-Khazindar Business Research and Case Center (KCC) at the American University in Cairo’s (AUC) School of Business, 10 case studies chronicle the opportunities and challenges of startups in the Arab world.

The casebook, developed in partnership with AUC Press, aims to expand the currently limited avenue for academic research on entrepreneurship in the region. To do so, the project’s Editor-in-Chief and Professor of Global Brand Management at George Washington University, Salah S. Hassan, teamed up with a group of over 15 scholars and contributors to analyze cases in areas ranging from Upper Egypt to the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

“Entrepreneurship has always been a part of society. At a time when many businesses suffered the complete demise of their projects as a result of social pressures, many cases presented throughout this casebook exhibit the strong-willed dedication of the bright entrepreneurs who managed to engage their problem-solving skills in the salvaging of their dreams,” Hassan remarks in the book’s introduction.

The page turner presents the narrative of each story in a way that does not disappoint.

As an added plus, each case study gets its own author so the writing is dynamic and not monotonous. From start to finish, the casebook is a learning experience, providing insight and knowledge of some of the most well-known startups in the region.

“Entrepreneurship in the Arab World” does not attempt to derive overly hopeful outlooks for the generally successful stories it presents. Rather, the casebook lingers more on the struggles in the startup scene rather than on any innovative solutions taken to solve them.

Its main theme is determination, not success.

For instance, it is not exactly hard to see why startups such as Ariika, a burgeoning furniture brand specializing in the production of beanbags, or Bey2ollak, a widely popular phone application that utilizes user input to measure travel congestion around the country, have made it to the top. After all, they both offered comfort-based services to society.

Since both companies’ founders were young and without any significant business experience, it is easy to take for granted how much hard work has gone into building these businesses.

When analyzed through the case studies, it is becomes clear that their successes were achieved after navigating bumpy roads that required consistently steady hands.

Ariika not only had to deal with fierce competition in the furniture industry, but also with a failed attempt to venture into the American market.

Bey2ollak, for its part, needed to find a way to stand out among competition from navigation giants such as Google Maps, as well as answer foundational questions raised in the book such as: Would people care to update the routes?

The casebook leaves no doubt behind its view that remaining at the top is at the very least just as hard as getting there.

Where “Entrepreneurship in the Arab World” succeeds is showing readers that the entrepreneurial journey is perhaps more significant than the end point.

The book is available for purchase through AUC Press  http://bit.ly/2lYwGy9 

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