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We've received word that Vodafone Egypt is launching an EGP 20 million (US $3.3 million) investment fund that will focus on small, web and mobile-focused ventures, with the goal of supporting youth, encouraging innovation and creativity, and boosting the Egyptian economy.
In addition to the fund, Vodafone is also launching an incubator in Egypt'sSmart Villages, named "Xone," in collaboration with the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center. Xone, which will have close ties to Vodafone Xone in Silicon Valley, will provide 15 startups with state-of-the-art telecommunications technology while providing them with financial and legal advice, as well as hiring services, to help them scale and reach new markets.
Hatem Dowidar, the CEO of Vodafone Egypt, pointed out in a statement that Vodafone's goal in launching both the fund and incubator is to support the Egyptian economy. (translation from Arabic is ours): "Vodafone believes in the creativity of young people in Egypt and is keen to have a role in facilitating the development of SMEs as one of the main pillars of economic development, so it will be the fund's mission to invest in early stage companies to help them gain international experience and become competitive on the global stage."
Mohammed AlAyouti, Business Development Senior Manager at Vodafone, pointed out that many web startups forming today in Egypt don't possess the resources that can truly help them survive and scale, and that Vodafone will assist them in developing and building the tech sector in Egypt. "We launched the fund to help facilitate the budding local ecosystem, accelerating innovation and growth. It will help us bridge the gap between what entrepreneurs are doing today, and what VCs as well as global markets expect from them. From a broader perspective, it is a good time for investing in Egypt, as it supports the economy and sends an important message to the world," he said.
When it comes to the unique value that Vodafone can lend startups, he added, "Startups will have access to Vodafone's infrastructure, be it the mobile network, marketing reach, distribution network, and more. The sky's the limit, and we're as flexible as our partners will take us. They will also be exposed to other Vodafone operating companies around the world. A lot of exciting stuff is going on there -- watch this space!"
Xone will join Flat6Labs and Tahrir2 as incubators in Egypt. With Egyptian small businesses hoping for economic stability, more funding opportunities will hopefully bridge the financial gap to help them reach global markets.