Ideas that can change the world, entrepreneurs who will disrupt industries, social development pioneers who will transform communities, and leaders who will inspire generations—these are all flavours of SPARK!, recently held in El-Gouna this summer.
This 10-day programme brought together some of Egypt’s most talented young people to nurture their skills and provided them with a launch pad off which they can achieve their high-impact ambitions.
Two separate programmes were held, the first being SPARK! Entrepreneurs which equipped talented college students and recent graduates with the tools and skills they need to turn their ideas into startups or social ventures.
The second was SPARK! Summer Camp which brought together top secondary school students for a life changing experience that involved character building, entrepreneurial thinking, leadership skills, career planning, emotional intelligence workshops, as well as sports and fun activities in El-Gouna.
Graduates of the SPARK! programme have gone on to attend prestigious universities around the world such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Harvard, McGill, Duke, and Wharton to name a few. Additionally, many graduates have founded some of Egypt’s brilliant startups in the fashion, energy, education, media, and real estate sectors.
The programme featured a line up of star-studded speakers, including founder of Future Energy Corporation Sherif Abdel Messih; founder of Fawry Ashraf Sabry; co-founder of Mori Sushi, Tamara Bistro, and Mince Burger Tamer El Leithy; and regional manager for IFC Nada Shousha, in addition to a number of Egyptian star entrepreneurs living in the US such as co-founder of DemandForce Sam Osman; co-founder of Affectiva Rana El Kaliouby; and co-founder of Bluecore Mahmoud Arram.
SPARK! was founded and designed at the prestigious MIT by Egyptian entrepreneur Sherif Abdel Messih as a way of giving back to his country. “When life shows us favour and rewards us, we must dedicate some of our resources towards empowering others. The future of our country lies in our ability to inspire, empower, and harness the energy of youth. There is a tremendous amount of talent in Egypt; we need to identify it and magnify it. That will be the source of our growth as a country—this is where solutions to our challenges will come from. This is what separates developed countries from developing ones and we need to make this shift,” said Abdel Messih.
The programme was developed at MIT with some of the world’s leading authorities on entrepreneurship and economic development. It was successfully launched in Egypt in 2007 and later grew to become a Mediterranean programme and then a global one, hosting students not just from Egypt but also Europe, Asia and the United States. SPARK! suspended its operations following the 25 January Revolution in 2011 and was re-launched again this summer in El-Gouna from 14 to 23 July. The programme is sponsored by the Future Energy Corporation and is hosted by El-Gouna.