Mansoura: High entrepreneurial potential, decentralized ecosystem

There are no courses, no guidance and no mentorship to help cultivate the concept of entrepreneurship inside the city

Egypt’s city of Mansoura is the capital of Dakahlia governorate. In continuation of Techne Drifts 2018’s visits to the cities of the Delta region, Mansoura was the second halt after a swift stop in Tanta.

Inside the University of Mansoura, entrepreneurs and young people assembled to join the workshops and panel discussions of Techne Drifts to work on their business ideas and to learn more about startup success stories, customer acquisition and revenue generation.

Double the effort to succeed in Mansoura
CUBII is a startup that designs and manufactures high-industrial solutions in the food industry. The company rose out of Mansoura, was incubated in a Cairo-based incubator, landed 12 deals and has pulled over $80,000 in revenues since 2009.  

Eman Hassan, who founded the company with her husband, tells Business Forward that Mansoura is similar to all the Egyptian cities that are not Cairo and Alexandria.

“When we need any help with our business, we are obliged to travel to Cairo; or else, we have to wait for events to come to Mansoura, which were not very common at the time we started,” Hassan says.

Mansoura is similar to all Egyptian cities that are not Cairo and Alexandria

She states that it is already stressful and costly to start a business, so asking a startup in Mansoura to move to Cairo, with all its financial burdens, in order to receive help is too much. During CUBII’s incubation period in Cairo, the husband-and-wife founders used to spend five hours a day commuting between the capital and Mansoura in order to participate in the program.

“Big incubators and accelerators in Cairo should regularly come here for events, mentorship and assistance,” Hassan concludes.

Different city, different problems
Mostafa Abdel Kader, an aspiring entrepreneur from Mansoura, tells Business Forward that there are no courses, no guidance and no mentorship to help cultivate the concept of entrepreneurship inside the city, as opposed to Cairo.

“Cairo is a hub for entrepreneurs and investors. It is a complicated city with a lot of problems. These problems generate the entrepreneurial mindset and assist with creating solutions through startups,” he adds.

As an example, he refers to ride-hailing apps. “[These] applications would have never achieved the same success here in Mansoura as they did in Cairo. It is a different community with different problems. Hence, the startup ideas are different. Incubators and accelerators should come here to know more about the nature of startups and the community as a whole,” Abdel Kader concludes.

Service providers rarely cooperate with new ideas

The lack of cooperation between entrepreneurs and service providers
However, the issue does not only lie in the lack of access to knowledge, but also in the lack of cooperation. Other founders from Mansoura, who have been developing a business model for over a year, are suffering from the lack of cooperation of service providers, which hinders them from kicking their business off the ground.  

“It is easy to pinpoint a problem and create the solution to it. Nevertheless, service providers in Tanta with whom we were planning to deal with to implement the idea are not cooperating,” one of the cofounders says.

In Cairo and Alexandria, people are more likely to engage with new ideas introduced in their community. In Mansoura, however, it is harder to approach people, another cofounder adds.

The issue of communication
Additionally, the issue of effectively communicating with Mansoura-bound young people interested in entrepreneurship adds to the weight of challenges in the city. Although some entrepreneurship stakeholders in Egypt try to extend their efforts to Mansoura, they are unable to reach those who are interested.

In the eyes of the entrepreneurs, this is caused by ineffective marketing and a communication gap, as many people in Mansoura are not familiar with the concept of entrepreneurship to begin with. The consequence is a low turnout, since even those who are interested, are not informed about the activities and the opportunities that are available.

Techne Drifts 2018 is currently touring the Canal cities Port Said and Suez. Stay tuned for more pieces on the entrepreneurship ecosystems in other Egyptian governorates.

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