As Egypt moves steadily towards promoting digital financial inclusion, the cabinet as well as local and international business organisations are pushing towards a revolutionary economic transition. Although millions of Egyptians still prefer to keep their money at home instead of using banks, the Egyptian government is keen on changing the narrative.
During the past three years, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) significantly contributed to Egypt’s transition towards a cashless economy, facilitating access to financial services, streamlining reforms, digitizing payless solutions to limit cash transactions, and eventually improving public services. An affiliate of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, CIPE strives to promote legal and market-oriented reform through its partnerships with business associations, NGOs, local private sector leaders, and think tanks.
With more than 60 percent of Egypt’s population constituting youth, the country’s economy is slowly becoming more and more startup-centric and investment-oriented. Home to countless investment opportunities, and millions of ambitious youthful dreams, Egypt currently boasts one of the fastest-growing startup ecosystems in the MENA region. To connect these startups with relevant investment opportunities, the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) launched ‘Tamweely’ (My Finance) in 2017.
Egyptian Streets spoke to Randa Al-Zoghbi, Egypt Program Director at CIPE, about the organisation’s efforts in Egypt’s transition towards a cashless economy, promoting financial inclusion among Egyptians, and supporting rising entrepreneurs and start-ups in the country.
According to Al-Zoghbi, it was striking to witness large sums of money being collected from homes, after the national call for donations for the Suez Canal Corridor Area project in 2014.
Available on the Apple App Store and Google Play Store, Tamweely is a mobile application designed to assist entrepreneurs in Egypt by connecting them to financial institutions and individual investors.
As an entrepreneur, you open Tamweely’s website, register by classifying your profile, sector and size of business, and then describe your scope of work and type of business. Once registered, the entrepreneur can connect with a financial institution that may be interested in the business.
One segment of entrepreneurs the application is hoping to target is Egyptian women. In some Egyptian governorates, many women can face multiple difficulties if they wish to start their own business or finance a business idea.
“We hosted training sessions in universities. Young women across different Egyptian governorates, who used to sell products through social media, took their first steps towards e-commerce. They transformed into actual businesses and made deals with cashless payment companies,” she proudly explains, highlighting that Tamweely offers fair opportunities because it has no religious, social, or gender bias.
“Tamweely deals with the business idea, not the person.”
The promising Egyptian platform, which started with 100 entrepreneurs in 2017 and currently has more than 10,000 entrepreneurs, does more than just connect entrepreneurs with investors. To help business owners and prepare them for the business environment, Tamweely also offers educational resources.
“Tamweely helps entrepreneurs learn how to create a business plan, cash projection, and balance sheets to ease the process and help them meet the requirements of the financial institution that approaches them,” she says. Al-Zoghbi also explains that start-ups often request large sums of money without having a proper cash flow or business plan, and, at other times, their connection with the investor halts as soon as he or she is requested to submit paperwork.
“Previously, the standard approach was getting a loan from the bank, and there were very few loan options for startups. Tamweely was launched to provide start-ups alternative access to financial opportunities,” says Al-Zoghbi.
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