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  • Writer's pictureHani W. Naguib

Mentor Journey: Reflections on The Ecosystem Notes


As we usher in a new year and reflect on the state of entrepreneurship in Cairo, it's insightful to draw a comparison between the observations made in 2019 and the current state of affairs in 2023. In this reflective journey, we'll explore the evolving dynamics of early-stage founders and the transformative landscape of support programs crucial to their growth.


Founder Dynamics:

2019: Entrepreneurial Necessity vs. Opportunity

In the blog post from 2019, the emphasis was on Egyptian entrepreneurs building startups out of necessity, driven by a desire to explore personal potential rather than exploiting immediate opportunities. The focus was on creating careers rather than businesses.

2023: A Shift from Inquiry to Response

Fast forward to 2023, and a notable shift is observed among early-stage founders. The inclination towards critical inquiry has dwindled, giving way to a focus on providing satisfactory responses to investor queries. This shift raises concerns about neglecting foundational startup value logic and inhibiting innovation during formative stages.


2019: Tech-Enabled Startups

The earlier post highlighted that most startups in the Egyptian ecosystem were tech-enabled rather than tech-based. Innovation was suffering due to a lack of investor appetite for risks associated with innovation-focused startups.

2023: Pitfalls of Overstated Achievements

In the current landscape, there's a prevalent issue of founders exaggerating their accomplishments, posing a threat to the credibility and authenticity of emerging ventures. This inflation of results raises doubts about the trustworthiness of startups in their nascent phases.


Insights on Support Programs:

2019: Accelerators and Incubators

In 2019, the critique focused on the prevalence of accelerators over incubators, emphasizing the need for nurturing the entrepreneurial mindset and allowing ideas to evolve over time.

2023: Devolution in Acceleration Programs

The acceleration programs, once pivotal for founders, have encountered a transformation towards systematic irrelevancy. Founders now delegate program participation to interns, highlighting a shift in perception. Program legitimacy is now tied to associations with renowned startups rather than the program's endorsement.


The entrepreneurial landscape in Cairo has undergone significant transformations over the years. The shift from entrepreneurial necessity to opportunity, a change in founder dynamics, and the evolution (or devolution) of support programs all contribute to the complex entrepreneurial ecosystem in Cairo.

As we contemplate the Cairo Conundrum presented in 2023, encouraging critical inquiries, fostering transparency, and revitalizing support programs become crucial imperatives. True success for the ecosystem lies in creating an environment where founders are not only nurtured but inspired to remain and actualize their entrepreneurial ambitions. The journey continues, and only time will reveal the next chapter in Cairo's entrepreneurial story.


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