The US embassy in Cairo launched the ATX + EGY entrepreneurship programme on Tuesday, according to the Minister Counsellor for Public Affairs at the US embassy in Cairo, Helen Lafave. The programme will train about 30 participants over three days in Cairo.
“Austin is a creative centre for south western US, while Cairo is also a creative centre for the entire Middle East and North Africa region. Both cities should be connected over the creative economy sector,” she said at an event held on Monday night to announce the programme.
The creative economy contributes with $760bn to the US economy, offering about 4.9m jobs, Lafave added, noting that Egypt’s creative sector is an essential part of the country’s economy, but it can play a more important role.
Egypt and the US can do more in boosting the connection between the creative economy in both countries, she said, adding, “We are delighted to see this connection between Austin and Cairo.”
The programme’s goal is to strengthen existing ties between the people of Austin in Texas and the people of Egypt while simultaneously developing and supporting innovative programming and partnerships that will enhance economic and entrepreneurial activities, cultural art exchanges, and social good initiatives within both communities.
The project will cost about $300,000, the US embassy told Daily News Egypt, nothing that the main partners of the project are Austin city and the American University in Cairo.
David Kurtenbach, international programme coordinator at Austin’s Economic Development Department, said, “We aim at promoting business in Austin. We are a small team, but we work very hard. We have 30 participants here in Cairo for over three days training on very diversified areas in the creative sector, including visual reality, gaming, visual arts, music, fashion, foods.”
The Economic Development Department oversees Austin’s incentive and loan programmes that support job creation and the growth of new and existing businesses.
ATX + EGY is a type of cooperation project between Egypt and Austin for boosting entrepreneurship in Egypt, Kurtenbach added, noting, “We will bring the participants down to 10 finalists who will be hosted in Austin for 10 days in May to attend the Austin Small Business Week and help them to enter the US business.”
An eight-member delegation from Austin will visit Egypt to participate in the RiseUp summit in December, he said, pointing out, “We are looking for investors and decision makers to participate in the delegation, and then we will take one Egyptian finalist to Austin in March 2020 for exploring more opportunities with Egyptian investors.”
Egypt is a strong emerging market (EM) and home to one of the most promising startup scenes in the world, as the population is robust with a rich supply of dynamic and talented young people influencing the local community with their cutting-edge ideas. Egyptians are historic powerhouses in the creative sector: film, media, food, and music. Similar to many countries, Egypt is currently focused on rebuilding their economy, but with little access to resources and capital, the embassy said.
Lack of access to resources and capital is a barrier to the success of many promising startups in Egypt. Limited funding resources for digital or technology-based products or services in Egypt’s creative sector is an inhibiting factor in overall growth of the local startup ecosystem. Lack of exposure to potential investors in international markets means the talent and potential of many entrepreneurs in Egypt goes untapped. Additionally, Austin companies are pursuing international expansion into EMs like Egypt, but lacking in contacts and technical resources to expand.