Egypt entrepreneurs see new dawn post-Revolution

Thu Jan 19, 2012 8:18am EST
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By Andrew Torchia

CAIRO (Reuters) - Two months after mass protests ousted Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak last February, Ahmed Essam resigned from his job at a well-established software company to set up a six-person venture developing applications for smart phones.

The economic turmoil which engulfed the country after Mubarak was overthrown played a part in his decision, says Essam, 28. With many firms freezing investments and shedding jobs, his salaried post no longer looked as stable.

"I felt the current situation might not continue after the Revolution. Most of the old companies will not make it in the new era," he said.

But the euphoria of the Revolution was also a factor. With the end of 30 years of rule by Mubarak, during which much of Egypt's economy was dominated by state-run companies and businessmen linked to the Mubarak regime, Essam thinks hard work and commercial vision have a greater chance of succeeding.

"People had lost hope -- you would walk along the street and nothing was yours, nothing was under your control. The Revolution created a feeling that people can change the world for the better."

In a 1920s apartment building across the street from the Giza Zoo outside Cairo, Essam now works 15-hour days to develop an application which rearranges social network feeds such as Facebook and Twitter according to their relevance to the user. He hopes the application will be used not just in Egypt or other Arab countries but around the world.


A year after Mubarak's ouster, economic conditions in Egypt remain grim. The risk of a currency devaluation, and continued uncertainty over how much power the military is willing to hand over to a democratic government, are deterring new projects by many large businesses, including foreign investors.   Continued...

<p>Ahmed Alfi (L), Chairman of Sawari Ventures, Ramez Mohamed, CEO of Flat6Labs and Ahmed Essam (R) CEO of F16Apps, talk while posing for a picture during an open day at Flat6Labs headquarters in Cairo, January 16, 2012. REUTERS/Asmaa Waguih</p>