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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: Ecosystem?

I keep hearing the big plans of support entities seeking to train many entrepreneurs on accounting, marketing, and management topics. I wonder how that is different from going to business school and why that would result in the creation of potential entrepreneurs and not just the typical business managers? How are these programs creating the next thinkers, deal makers, innovators, or captains of industries?

I keep seeing scarce funding going to the same kind of non adaptive programs over and over again. I wonder what are the results that we have accomplished so far?

Entrepreneurship as disguised unemployment

This approach has created many “entrepreneurs” by job title but not by skill nor capabilities. As a result, we have a growing number of unemployed, inexperienced individuals, burning time and efforts under the assumption that they are building future companies. Instead, what we have is a generation of 20 something years old CEOs without any fundamental employable skills and without profitable companies. We don’t have the proper support to offer these entrepreneurs to move on and continue forward after their companies have closed and have lost everything. No one dares to write about the fallen entrepreneurs, their mental challenges, and their shattered life. How come we never did a follow-up on the top 25 under 25 and see where they are now? How many of them survived the entrepreneurship grinder and actually built something by themselves? And how many of them did that with the support of the ecosystem programs? So much can be learned from this simple exercise.

Entrepreneurship as an ecosystem of selected “individuals.”

Our ecosystem is built on a hierarchal system where only a few control most of the keys. Those few allow the selected few to enjoy the privileges of being “selected.” Fair enough. This is the reality of the world, and one must understand and embrace reality. However, when a growing number of young talented individuals with good potential startups are convinced that this entrepreneurship setup is not for them and only for those who graduated from private universities, it makes me wonder whether we are empowering the youth of our country to imagine, create and innovate or are we simply asking them to lose hope and leave to another ecosystem ?!!!

Questions I am not sure I will ever hear answers to!

Entrepreneurship programs as a replacement for extra-curriculum activities

Students in universities like to participate in extra-curriculum activities. They are a lot of fun and allow them to meet new people, network with the selected few, and add something they can be proud of to their CVs. Entrepreneurship support programs are now nothing more than overfunded extra-curriculum activity. It is also more fun, and I hear the catering is also good.

Venture Capital is not really venturing.

I keep hearing this statement repeatedly: Egypt will not produce innovative startups, only SMEs.

Well, the thing is, if all our venture funding is not venturing enough, than what do you expect! So it is no wonder that the people repeating this statement mainly were from local VCs.

We have plenty of potential innovative entrepreneurs. Their startups die early. Why? Because they can not find enough seed funding to take it to the next level. Most of the funding offered in the country is seeking startups that are operating, making sales, and growing before they can give them seed funding. So with all due respect, if an entrepreneur is doing all that by himself, why would he need to take your money? And if he did, why should he be running after you begging for some attention?

We keep repeating the same actions, over and over, and keep expecting to get different results!

Or perhaps we no longer care about the results or who we do impact, as long as the numbers are made, and the money is spent!

May be we just care about having an ecosystem more than the people in the ecosystem. I leave that to you to decide!

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