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Women Entrepreneurs in Action: Global initiative spurs economic development

“Mentorship, strategic advice and connections are our main instruments in helping innovative, high-impact entrepreneurs to achieve large-scale change and become extremely competitive in the market,” said Ahmed Ezzat, managing director of Endeavor in Egypt.

Endeavor is a global non-profit NGO that aims to open the door to economic empowerment through supporting entrepreneurs in emerging countries, many of whom already enjoy considerable success but nevertheless lack adequate contacts and effective management capabilities. Endeavor supports "high-impact" entrepreneurs by offering access to a worldwide network of financial experts, business leaders and professional institutions.

Raising awareness and dispelling young people's fears about starting their own businesses are among the organization’s overriding objectives. According to Ezzat, if the next generation learns how to deal with failure and build trust, Egypt will find itself in a better position to alleviate unemployment and combat poverty.

On the occasion of World Entrepreneurship Week, Endeavor organized an event on Friday at Cairo's Townhouse Gallery entitled, “How I See it: Experiences Shared.” The event brought together a number of prominent Egyptian entrepreneurs from various fields to share their experience and motivate young people to participate in the country's economic development through small- and medium-sized business enterprises and entrepreneurship.

“Since launching, we have successfully supported all companies in our portfolio to employ more workers and generate greater profits through providing customized support," said Endeavor Communication and Outreach Officer Miral Brinjy. "Diwan bookstore, Azza Fahmy Jewelry and SySDSoft are among our seven high-growth businesses for whom we have set up advisory plans."

A recent study conducted by Endeavor revealed that the creation of only 50 large companies–employing some 500 people each–could dramatically enhance a given country’s overall gross domestic product.

According to 2010 growth indicators, Endeavor has played a vital role in improving Egypt’s economic condition by achieving 60 percent average sales growth, 30 percent average workforce growth and some US$4 million in average sales for the companies in its current portfolio.

“The idea of joining Endeavor came to Naguib Sawiris, board chairman of Endeavor Egypt and executive chairman of Orascom, while he was attending the International Economic Forum, in which the importance of promoting small- and medium-sized enterprises to boost the global economy was highlighted,” Ezzat said.

He added that US President Barack Obama’s speech in Cairo last year, in which Obama stressed the need to support small enterprises in order to face the global economic crisis, had been another factor in Sawaris’ decision.  

In 1997, Endeavor opened its first branch office in Latin America. After achieving considerable success in several emerging countries–including Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Jordan, South Africa and Turkey, among others–the organization launched its Egyptian affiliate, which is managed by several prominent businessmen, in 2008.

The initiative comes as particularly good news to Egypt's would-be female entrepreneurs, many of whom are currently considering starting their own small businesses.

Women Entrepreneurs in Action is Al-Masry Al-Youm's new series devoted to women who start their own businesses from home.

Whether as a means of increasing income or as a result of extra time, women all over Egypt are employing their creative energies in different fields and organizing their ideas into small businesses. This is, of course, a global phenomenon and entrepreneurship is a trend for both genders.

In this series we look at women who have created businesses from scratch, discuss the origins of their ideas and the steps they took to realize their dreams and–for those who ventured out into boutiques or online–the catalysts for their growth.

Even greater are the numbers of women who live, day by day, with an idea that has yet to be actualized. This series is therefore fueled by profiles of women who have stepped up to launch their own enterprises. It will also feature articles about  the necessary resources for starting your own business.

Are you considering starting your own business project? If so, send us your information or let us know what resources you would like us to highlight.

Email comments and queries to Al-Masry Al-Youm's Life & Style Editor: [email protected]

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