Social Enterprise in Egypt: Start-Ups with Staying Power

In partnership with RISE Egypt, the Middle East Institute will host the first class of RISE Entrepreneurs for an inside look at the role social entrepreneurship is playing in spurring the Egyptian economy.
Friday, June 5
9:00 am - 2:00 pm
SEIU Conference Center
1800 Massachusetts Ave NW
Washington, District of Columbia 20036

Event Information

Egypt needs millions of jobs to overcome economic stagnation and youth unemployment. Young entrepreneurs are working to fulfill that need while leading innovative efforts to address some of their society's key challenges in education, health, and environmental protection. RISE Egypt is one of the organizations working to support this generation of young business leaders who are creating jobs and having a vital social impact in their communities and beyond.

In partnership with RISE Egypt, the Middle East Institute hosted the first class of RISE Entrepreneurs for an inside look at the role social entrepreneurship is playing in spurring the Egyptian economy. Each RISE Entrepreneur leads an enterprise addressing Egypt's most vexing development challenges. With viable, scalable, and inspirational solutions, their budding enterprises are poised for national, regional, and global expansion. On June 5, they were joined by policy experts and investors for a series of presentations and conversations focused on expanding the role of entrepreneurs in development.

Conference Recap:

Panel 1: Connecting Global Investors to Social Entrepreneurship for Development in Egypt [PODCAST]

  • Najy Benhassine Practice Manager, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, MENA Region, World Bank Group
  • Racha Helwa Senior Economist,  University of Cambridge
  • Alex Shalaby Chariman, Mobinil
  • Mona Mowafi (Moderator) Co-Founder and President, RISE Egypt

Panel 2: Entrepreneur Presentations: Enterprises in the Environmental Sector [PODCAST]

Panel 3: Entrepreneur Presentations: Enterprises in the Education Sector [PODCAST]

Luncheon Discussion [PODCAST]

Participant Information

Mohamed Abdel-Kader
Deputy Assistant Secretary, International and Foreign Language Education, U.S. Department of Education
Mohamed Abdel-Kader is the deputy assistant secretary in the office of International and Foreign Language Education (IFLE) at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Postsecondary Education. He is responsible for promoting the study of foreign languages and the study of the cultures of other countries at the elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels in the United States. Previously, Mr. Abdel-Kader served as the director of development for the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University, managed the university’s advancement strategy in the Middle East region, and led donor development efforts for the Krasnow Institute for Advanced Study. He has advised clients on organizational strategy, doing business in emerging markets, intercultural communication, cultural competency in international philanthropy, and strengthening fundraising operations domestically and abroad.

Najy Benhassine
Practice Manager, Trade & Competitiveness Global Practice, MENA Region, World Bank Group
Najy Benhassine is the practice manager for the Middle East and North Africa region for the trade and competitiveness global practice of the World Bank Group. Prior to his appointment in this position, he was the global manager of the business regulations practice for the World Bank Group. Previously, Mr. Benhassine was based in Rabat, Morocco between 2007 and 2011 and was in charge of the private sector development portfolio of the Maghreb for the World Bank. He also worked on education, land reform and health service delivery. An Algerian national, he joined the World Bank Group in Washington D.C. in 2001, after working with McKinsey and Co and teaching at the Swiss Graduate Institute of International Studies.Mr. Benhassine is the co-author of the 2009 World Bank flagship publication on the private sector in the MENA region,"From Privilege to Competition."

Jennifer Bremer
Visiting Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies
Jennifer Bremer is an economist, researcher, and policy analyst. She is currently the vice president of the Association for Middle Eastern Public Policy and Administration, an organization that works to promote governance in the Middle East. With more than 35 years of experience in international development, governance, and private enterprise, her career focuses on expanding business opportunities in developing countries and bringing private sector resources and strategies to address development challenges. Previously, Dr. Bremer held the position of professor of practice and chair of the Department of Public Policy and Administration at the American University in Cairo and served on the staff of the Agricultural Policy Analysis Project directing the agricultural and dual development practice. Her extensive international experience includes assignments in Egypt and 30 other countries, where her work emphasizes policy reform, trade and investment, corporate responsibility, infrastructure development, and private enterprise promotion.

Wendy Chamberlin 
President, The Middle East Institute
Ambassador Wendy Chamberlin has been president of the Middle East Institute since 2007. Previously, as deputy high commissioner for refugees from 2004 to 2007, she supervised the administration of the U.N. humanitarian organization. A 29-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, she was ambassador to Pakistan from 2001 to 2002, when she played a key role in securing Pakistan’s cooperation in the U.S.-led campaign against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan in the wake of the terrorist attacks against the U.S. on September 11.

Rana El Kaliouby
Chief Strategy and Science Officer, MIT Startup Affectiva
Rana el Kaliouby is the chief strategy and science officer and co-founder of Affectiva, the global leader in emotion sensing and analytics. She invented the company’s award winning, automated facial coding technology, Affdex, used by over 1.400 brands and one third of the Fortune Global 100 today. Prior to starting Affectiva, Ms. el Kaliouby was a research scientist at MIT Media Lab where she spearheaded the applications of facial coding from autism to advertising. Her work has appeared in numerous publications including Reuters, Wired, Forbes, Fast Company, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times and The New Yorker. She was recognized by Entrepreneur as one of the “7 Most Powerful Women To Watch In 2014”, inducted into the “Women in Engineering” Hall of Fame, a recipient of the 2012 Technology Review’s “Top 35 Innovators Under 35” Award and listed on Ad Age’s “40 under 40”. She is also co-Chair of TechWadi, a non-profit organization on a mission to create bridges between the diaspora community of entrepreneurs and tech professionals in the U.S. with those in the Middle East. 

Amena El-Saie
Co-Founder, Helm
Amena El-Saie is a co-founder of Helm, an NGO that provides programs and employment services for individuals with disabilities in Egypt. Helm also partners with the Entaleq project, the first accessibility certification project in Egypt. As a student, El-Saie collaborated with the American University in Cairo’s School of Continuing Education to establish Alemny, an organization focused on improving education in Egypt. El-Saie has been recognized for her social entrepreneurship by AUC’s Entrepreneurs’ Society.

Yasmin Helal
Executive Director, Educate Me
Yasmin Helal is the founder and executive director of Educate Me, an NGO that helps underprivileged children complete their education.
Her entrepreneurial efforts have been featured in national and international media. Helal has received several awards for her work at Educate Me, including the King Abdullah II Award for Youth Innovation and Achievement, the Mobaderoon Masr Award, the NEGMA ImpactEgypt Award, the SHE Entrepreneurs fellowship, and the Arab Women’s Professional Fellowship.

Racha Helwa
Senior Economist,  University of Cambridge
Racha Helwa is a senior economist with a PhD in economic policy from the University of Cambridge, a masters in international political economy  from the London School of Economics, and a second masters in finance, banking and risk management from the University of Paris.  She has fourteen years of work experience in both the private sector and government where she specializes in private sector development, investment climate assessment, and public policy evaluation. She also assesses the locational determinants and spillover effect of foreign direct investment. Her research focuses on developing countries, particularly the developing countries of the Middle East and North Africa. 

Metwaly Magdy
Co-Founder and Marketing Manager, Recyclobekia
Metwaly Magdy is a co-founder and marketing manager at Recyclobekia, a start up that focuses on waste collection. Since 2011, Magdy has served as the international sales manager, marketing executive, and marketing manager at Recyclobekia. As a co-founder, Magdy also contributes in the planning and execution of Recyclobekia’s many projects.

Mona Mowafi
Co-Founder and President, RISE Egypt
Mona Mowafi is the co-founder and president of RISE Egypt and a visiting research scientist at Harvard's School of Public Health. RISE Egypt, a global nonprofit, is a "think and do tank" that links capacity-building for growth stage social enterprises with world class research to enable an evidence-based scale-up of its portfolio companies. Through its events, RISE also promotes collaboration across sectors and facilitates important conversations between stakeholders in the private sector, civil society, and policymaking communities about the roles of impact investing, public-private partnerships, and research in accelerating development. Ms. Mowafi has numerous publications in her area of research, and in 2011, she was recognized as an emerging leader in global health research by the Global Health Council. She also recieved the Judith O'Connor Award for nonprofit leaders from Boardsource and one of 20 National Service Leadership Awards by Americorps Alums.

Alyaa Said Ahmed
Learners Program Manager, Tahrir Academy
Alyaa Said Ahmed leads the learners program in Tahrir Academy, which focuses on maximizing students’ educational experience at the Academy. Said Ahmed became interested in online education during her time at Yahoo, where she led the company’s expansion markets. She has also worked with several educational organizations, including AMIDEAST.

Mark Scheland
Director of Programs and Government Relations, MEI
Mark Scheland is the director of programs and government relations at The Middle East Institute.  In his 28-year career as a Foreign Service officer, Mr. Scheland served in the U.S. embassies in Pakistan, Oman, and Germany, studied Arabic in Tunis, and worked in several functions in Washington, D.C. He worked in the German Foreign Office as an exchange diplomat and in the U.S. Senate as a legislative fellow. His tenure with the Department of State culminated in service as U.S. consul general and principal officer in Leipzig, Germany (2005-8) and then as counselor for nuclear affairs in the U.S. Mission to International Organizations, Vienna, where he led the inter-agency staff engaged with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Scheland subsequently worked in the IAEA secretariat 2011-14.

Christopher Schroeder
Entrepreneur, Venture Investor, Author of Startup Rising
Christopher Schroeder is an American entrepreneur, advisor, and investor in interactive technologies and social communications.  He is author of the recent best seller, and first book on startups in the Arab World, Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East (St. Martin's Press, 2013. Read more about or buy the book here.).  Mr. Schroeder was the CEO and publisher of washingtonpost.newsweek interactive and co-founder of the Silicon Valley venture capital backed startup, sold in 2012.  He is an investor in consumer facing enterprises including Vox Media, Skift, Quibb, iBotta, Zignal Labs, BrightSky Labs, Parlio among others, and in leading Silicon Valley venture capital funds. He serves on the board of advisers of the American University of Cairo School of Business, American University School of International Service, the Jordanian startup incubator Oasis500, and the boards of directors of the American University of Beirut, The German Marshall Fund and the American Council on Germany.  He is on the Investment Committee of The Wamda Fund, one of the largest venture capital funds in the Middle East.  He has written extensively on startups and innovation as well as emerging growth markets and the Middle East for The Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, Fortune, Fast Company, TechCrunch, Pando Daily, and Business Insider.  He was named one of LinkedIn's first 50 Influencers.  He also served on the staff of secretary of state James Baker and under secretary Robert Zoellick.

Alex Shalaby
Chairman, Mobinil

Alex Shalaby was appointed chairman of the Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil) by board consensus in September 2008, after his appointment as its president and CEO in 2005. Under Mr. Shalaby's leadership, Mobinil witnessed market share leadership, tripled the subscriber base from six to 19 million, doubled revenues, and increased net profits by 30%. Mr. Shalaby came to Mobinil from Washington, D.C. where he was AT&T's director for public affairs, serving as the company’s link to lawmakers on Capitol Hill and lobbying the executive branch of the U.S. government. He helped in achieving more liberalization of the telecoms sector internationally for the emerging nations of the Middle East, Africa, and Eastern Europe. During these years, he served on the boards of the American Chamber of Commerce, becoming its president from 1991-1992, the Bi-national Fulbright Commission, and Seeds of Peace; he currently chairs the board of Injaz and SIFE in Egypt. Between 1993 and 1995, he became regional director for international public affairs for AT&T, based in Cairo, Egypt, where he was the principal interface with key agencies within the governments in the region on matters impacting AT&T’s operations.

Mahmoud Sherif
Business Development Manager, Jozour
Mahmoud Sherif  is co-founder and business development manager of Jozour, a company that recycles agricultural byproducts. In addition to its recycling program, Jozour supports initiatives for both social empowerment and the development of rural areas. Sherif is currently pursuing a graduate degree in technology management from Nile University.

Paul Salem 
Vice President for Policy and Research, MEI
Paul Salem is vice president for policy and research at The Middle East Institute. He focuses on issues of political change, democratic transition, and conflict, with a regional emphasis on the countries of the Levant and Egypt. Salem writes regularly in the Arab and Western press and has been published in numerous journals and newspapers. Salem is the author of a number of books and reports on the Middle East, including most recently Broken Orders: The Causes and Consequences of the Arab Uprisings (Beirut: Dar Annahar, in Arabic, 2013) and "Iraq's Tangled Foreign Relations” (Beirut: Carnegie Middle East Center Report, December 2013). Prior to joining MEI, Salem was the founding director of the Carnegie Middle East Center in Beirut, Lebanon between 2006 and 2013.  From 1999 to 2006, he was director of the Fares Foundation and in 1989 founded and directed the Lebanese Center for Policy Studies, Lebanon's leading public policy think tank.