By: Ingy ElSafy & Moslem Ali
Cairo – Mubasher: Bahrain is opening its arms for Egyptian startups with flexible and progressive sentiment, and is keen on doing what is best for organizations, startups, and regulators, as described by Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager of Business Development for Startups at Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB).
“I encourage startups and ecosystem builders in Egypt to visit Bahrain and connect with us to arrange a startup tour,” Pakiza Abdulrahman said in an interview with Mubasher on the sidelines of the RiseUp Summit 2019, held at the American University in Cairo from 5 to 7 December.
What would you say to Egyptian startups looking for opportunities abroad?
I encourage startups and ecosystem builders in Egypt to visit Bahrain and connect with us to arrange a startup tour, which can be done through our website.
We will be more than happy to help and introduce them to different government and private sector funds and angel networks, which can help facilitate the startups’ experience to establish their business in Bahrain.
We have done that with Flat6Labs last October when we hosted eight of their startups and scaleups in a startup tour to Bahrain.
I would [announce] about the follow-on funding where Flat6Labs has been able to achieve over $1 million only this year from their startups in Bahrain. This is a testament to the growth and potential.
Would you share some of your collaboration with Egyptian entities?
The Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) recently signed a memorandum of understating (MoU) with the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) to exchange expertise and fintech collaboration between the two countries.
In addition, Bahrain Fintech Bay is not only an incubator, as it acts as an ecosystem for the region. It operates in Silicon Valley and Singapore, capitalizing on those collaborations in different markets to bring the best in practices and experiences for banks while building their trust and ability to adopt technology and innovation and embed them in the market.
I have seen a collaboration with Amex [American Express Middle East] that is based out of Bahrain. Amex created a corporate hackathon solving challenges they are facing with millennials and segments they do not reach across the region. During one of the startup week events in Bahrain, they got 60 coders to come and pitch their solutions. The winners have been signing up collaboration and procurement deals with Amex.
Do investors from Egypt have to follow up certain criteria to team up with you?
It does not really have a specific confined shape. We are very flexible, progressive, and look forward to what makes sense to the organization, startup, and the regulator.
It differs from a setup to another. For example, we build very close relationships with the Greek Campus to establish synergies between the Egyptian market and Bahrain.
The Greek Campus should be announcing a lot of amazing news very soon. We look forward to this kind of collaboration.
Do you think you need to promote more for Bahrain presence in Egypt and to market for your efforts and initiatives?
We would love to. We visit Egypt all the time for events like Flat6Labs demo days. We have met amazing individuals and different companies here.
MIT Enterprise Forum holds an annual competition. We are partners with them and we promote that where we join as mentors and virtual judges.
We are always available to engage and support.
Do you hold any startup competitions in Egypt?
Not right now. But we took part in Bahrain Runway to Web Summit last year where the winner was an Indian founder.
This helps us accelerate our experience and have diversity.
Apart from RiseUp, have you recently attended other events in Egypt?
Yes, in November when the Angel Oasis 2019 [the second edition of an annual conference launched by The Middle East Angel Investment Network (MAIN)] was held in El Gouna. The event, and of course El Gouna too, is amazing because it has put us in contact with different corporate VCs and angel investors from Alexandria, Cairo and other backgrounds.