2016 Action Project – Egypt-US Startup Connection

Building Bridges of Innovation Through Youth Entrepreneurship


Yasser El Zahhar, Hani Elzoumor, Robert Sheldon and Alexis Taylor

The Challenge

Youth unemployment is a major challenge facing both Egypt and the United States, and the highest rate is among recent college graduates. In the present day we have access to postsecondary education. However, economic situations limit the ability for communities to fully utilize their most educated members and talent becomes stunted. This challenge provides a unique economic growth opportunity: to engage university youth in entrepreneurship workshops and enable them to use their talents to create ventures.

Project Overview

The Egypt-US Startup Connection is a diplomacy initiative for 80 American and Egyptian students, who will receive intense entrepreneurial training on how to startup ventures that focus on addressing problems in their communities. The initiative will mould the next generation of Egyptian and American entrepreneurs into innovation bridges between the East and the West, by promoting virtual and in-person dialogue among participants. Within 10 months, 200 Egyptian and American university students will have participated in the initiative, developing cooperative and collective solutions to their region’s most pressing issues.

Project Goal

  • Cultivate the entrepreneurial mindset, specifically risk taking and innovative thinking • Develop cross-disciplinary teamwork skills
  • Engage participants with local talent pipelines that align with their skills and interests • Increase the mutual understanding among Egyptians and Americans through building constructive ventures that address problems in their communities

Population Served

Full-time students from Cairo University and the University of Texas, Austin.

Project Milestones

Phase 1: (Leadership Development): Select students from Cairo University and the University of Texas at   Austin, and begin a 3-month leadership training program.

Phase 2: (Recruitment): Leadership training program participants engage 200 students from diverse   backgrounds selected through an educational application process.

Phase 3: (Venture Creation and East-West Dialogue): 80 students participate in 3 Day Startup’s rapid- format, immersive venture creation workshop and corresponding virtual seminars. An American   3DS facilitator will lead the program at Cairo University and they will also train an Egyptian 3DS   facilitator to lead the same program at the University of Texas at Austin.

Phase 4: (Measure Impact): In partnership with the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, the action project team will submit a final impact evaluation to the Shafik Gabr Foundation.

Expected Outcome

  • Development of 10-14 early stage ventures
  • A positive change in the entrepreneurial mindset of participants
  • Participants will gain a mutual understanding of the people of Egypt and the United States

Furthering the Foundation’s Mission

The Egypt-US Startup Connection furthers the Foundation’s mission by engaging youth in Egypt and the United States in entrepreneurship training workshops. These workshops will spark action-oriented dialogue on how to develop cooperative, collective solutions to their region’s most pressing issues.