Thursday, 16 September 2021

The central bank is likely to leave interest rates unchanged when it meets today

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Well, ladies and gentlemen: We have the meatiest workaday issue that we can remember to close out the week. Before we get down to it though, as we say every six weeks…

It’s interest rate day here in Egypt: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet later today to review interest rates. All 10 analysts we polled last week expect policymakers to leave rates on hold for a seventh consecutive meeting, pointing to the uptick in inflation and the pressure to maintain foreign inflows into Egyptian debt. Participants in a Reuters poll also expect the MPC to leave rates unchanged.

WHAT ELSE IS HAPPENING TODAY-

The Egyptian-Libyan Higher Committee is set to meet for the first time today since 2009. A Libyan delegation headed by interim PM Hamid Debeibeh arrived in Cairo yesterday for the meeting. Dbeibeh will hold talks with Prime Minister Moustafa Madbouly ahead of the committee’s main session. The committee was revived this spring following the restoration of official ties between Egypt and Libya. Libyan General Khalifa Haftar and the speaker of the Tobruk-based House of Representatives Aguila Saleh — who haven’t always seen eye to eye with Dbeibeh — were in Cairo on Tuesday for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

Infrastructure diplomacy ahead of the meeting: Transport ministers from both countries signed two agreements that will see Egyptian companies work on Libyan infrastructure works such as roads and bridges as well as projects to upgrade Libya’s ports and lower pollution.

The semi-finals of the CIB Egyptian Squash Open are being played today: In the women’s draw, world no.1 Nour El Sherbiny plays third seed Camille Serme while world no.2 Nouran Gohar faces fourth seed Amanda Sobhy. In the men’s, first seed Mohamed El Shorbagy is up against Tarek Momen while world no.2 plays Paul Coll.

ALSO- EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference continues today, running through to 21 September with the theme of “After Reflation — FEMs in 2022.”

The UN General Assembly is ongoing in New York until 30 September. The general debate will take place from 20-28 September. Leaders from at least 83 countries are expected to attend in person — in contrast to last year, when the meeting was almost 100% virtual. There’s no word yet on whether President Abdel Fattah El Sisi will attend in person or virtually.

NEXT WEEK- The US Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates on 21-22 September. Pressure has been building on the Fed to take a more hawkish stance to combat inflation by bringing its stimulus programme to a premature end and start raising interest rates earlier than planned. But a slight slowdown in US consumer price inflation last month could give the Fed a breather and relieve pressure for a policy change.

The Cityscape real estate investment conference gets underway next week at the Egypt International Exhibition Center. The event runs from Wednesday, 22 September to Saturday 25.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.

***IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-

  • Egypt will start shipping natural gas to Lebanon before the end of the year, Oil Minister Tarek El Molla told Bloomberg. The gas will be sent through a currently out-of-use pipeline connecting Egypt to Jordan and Syria, and be used to power a 450 MW plant in northern Lebanon, hopefully lessening the chronic power shortages plaguing the country.
  • Could the world’s most indebted company spark a systemic banking crisis in China? Evergrande, China’s second-largest property developer, could be on the verge of defaulting on its massive debts, forcing it to offer units for sale at cut rates to clear out inventory and try to keep up with repayments
  • The EU will ship another 200 mn vaccines to Africa by the middle of 2022, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said yesterday. This takes the EU’s total commitment to 450 mn shots.

enterprise

We can’t wait to see the endurance sports community back at Somabay Redsea, taking on the Supersprint, Sprint, Olympic, Youth, & Kids Races at a destination that’s truly outstanding by nature.

ECONOMY

Remittances hit record high in FY2020-2021

Remittances hit a record high in FY2020-2021, growing more than 13% to USD 31.4 bn compared to USD 27.8 bn the previous fiscal year, according to central bank figures (pdf) released yesterday. Inflows rose almost 30% to USD 8.1 bn in 4Q, up from USD 6.2 bn in the same period last year.

Inflows held up well through the pandemic: Remittances shrugged off covid lockdowns and the global oil price crash to rise 7% to USD 29.2 bn during 2020. In the second quarter — during which the initial wave of covid coincided with a historic slump in the price of oil — inflows slipped 10% y-o-y, only to rebound immediately the following quarter, reaching a multi-year high of more than USD 8 bn. Many analysts had issued more apocalyptic forecasts for Egyptian remittances, which rely heavily on expats living in Gulf economies that were hit hard by the oil crash and months of lockdown.

Egypt was one of the top five remittance destinations in 2020, according to Ripple. Central bank data put the value of remittances last year at USD 29.6 bn, up 10% from 2019 in spite of the disruption caused by the pandemic and the turmoil in the energy markets.

ENERGY

Two renewable energy producers want to delay work on their Egypt projects

Global inflation is delaying renewable energy projects in Egypt: Two major Middle Eastern energy companies have recently asked to postpone renewable projects under pressure from rising input prices, an official at the New and Renewable Energy Authority (NREA) tells Enterprise. Saudi Arabia’s ACWA Power and the UAE’s Al Nowais have in recent days asked the Electricity Ministry to extend the timelines for implementing their projects, according to the NREA’s Deputy Director Ehab Ismail, who says that rising shipping costs and an increase in the prices of solar cells are putting the companies over budget.

This follows reports in the local press earlier this week that claimed ACWA is seeking to postpone work on its 200 MW Kom Ombo solar plant by nine months and Al Nowais wants to extend fundraising for its solar power projects by six months until June 2022. Another source familiar with the matter confirmed to Enterprise yesterday that the company has asked the ministry to delay the project, but denied that it requested nine months and declined to disclose further details. Enterprise was unable to reach a representative from Al Nowais to confirm the claims made by Al Borsa.

Delay or sell? Al Mal claimed earlier this week that Al Nowais is ready to sell its license to operate a solar plant at Benban, writing that 10 companies are in the running to acquire it. Enterprise was unable to verify the claims.

The projects could be halted until inflationary pressures ease: The two companies said the cost of implementing their projects would go over budget and sought to delay their implementation “until prices settle down,” Ismail said. The two companies did not seek to renegotiate the agreed upon price per unit of electricity with the Egyptian government, he added.

EETC has not yet granted the approvals, and is considering the technical reasons laid out by the companies before issuing a decision, he added.

ACWA Power has been a player in the Egyptian market for some time now, owning a minority stake in three plants in Benban. It also has an upcoming project with the Egyptian Electricity Transmission Company to convert a 2.25 GW combined cycle electricity plant in Luxor to run only on renewable sources. The company has also expressed interest in Egypt’s potentially very significant investment in desalination. Meanwhile, Al Nowais in2019 signed a contract to construct a 500 MW solar plant in Kom Ombo and a 500 MW wind project in Ras Ghareb.

Egypt has ambitious plans for the renewable energy sector, with authorities planning to have authorized 2.4 GW worth of renewable energy projects that would cost a combined USD 1.5 bn by 2022. Several new projects will also be funded through the USD 750 bn green bond issuance Egypt closed in September 2020, when it became the first country in the region to sell climate-linked debt. The government has set a goal of seeing 42% of the country’s electricity generated from renewable sources by 2035.


Egypt intends to sign a bilateral agreement with Cyprus to export electricity next month, Electricity Minister Mohamed Shaker told Al Borsa yesterday. The pact will come ahead of a tripartite agreement to be signed by Egypt, Cyprus and Greece for the USD 4 bn EuroAfrica connector project, which Shaker said yesterday could have a transmission capacity of 3 GW. According to the project’s website, the link will have an initial capacity of 1 GW.

The EuroAfrica project has been in the works for a while: Egypt in 2019 signed with Greece and Cyprus a cooperation framework agreement for the project, which will link Egypt’s electricity grid with mainland Europe via Cyprus, Crete and Greece. The first leg of the connector linking Egypt with Cyprus is scheduled for completion at the end of next year, while Cyprus will be connected to Crete by the end of 2023.

EDUCATION

Lighthouse Education weeks away from EGP 500 mn first close

Education investment fund Lighthouse Education is only weeks away from its first close of EGP 500 mn, Lighthouse Managing Director Mohamed El Sherif tells Enterprise.

United Bank joins the fray: El Sherif was speaking to us a day after the United Bank of Egypt announced (pdf) that it would contribute EGP 50 mn to the fund, joining founding partners the Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE), Misr Ins. Holding Company, Banque Misr, and the Suez Canal Bank.

United’s contribution brings the platform’s total commitments that we know of to EGP 425 mn, but El Sherif tells us that other private sector investors are on board, taking it closer to the EGP 500 mn target. He declined to disclose the identities of the investors. MIH and its subsidiaries contributed EGP 125 mn to its initial paid-in capital, the SFE and Banque Misr EGP 100 mn each, and Suez Canal Bank EGP 50 mn, MIH Chairman Basel El Hini told us in July, soon after the fund was announced.

About Lighthouse: Announced in July, Lighthouse Education was set up as a joint-stock company designed to channel investment into K12 private schools. It will start off by investing in 10-12 schools, focusing initially on Cairo and Giza before turning its attention to other areas of the country such as Alexandria, Beni Suef, Assiut, Port Said, Gharbia, and Qalyubia. It hopes to eventually increase its capital to EGP 1.75 bn.

The platform is aiming to reach its second close before the end of 2022, according to the statement. Under the new partnership agreement, the platform will be managed under the supervision of Al Orman schools founder Hossam El Kabbany along with and privately-owned financial advisor Ironwood Investments, and Banque Misr’s investment arm Misr Capital.

Advisors: Beltone Financial Holding was the financial advisor while Matouk Bassiouny law firm was the legal advisor to Lighthouse. The Sovereign Fund of Egypt tapped Renaissance Capital as its financial advisor and Baker Mckenzie as its legal advisor, and Al Kamel Law Firm was Banque Misr and Misr Capital’s legal advisor.

M&A WATCH

Pharos Energy to sell majority stakes in Egypt oil concessions

Pharos Energy has reached a farmout agreement that will see it sell majority stakes in its two Egyptian oil concessions as it looks to repair its balance sheet following a tough year through covid. The energy company will sell a 55% working interest in each of its El Fayum and North Beni Suef concessions to IPR Energy Group subsidiary IPR Lake Qarun for up to USD 63.4 mn, it said in a statement (pdf) yesterday. The agreement, which values the assets up to USD 115 mn, should be completed during 1Q2022, according to the statement.

2020 was tough for Pharos: The combination of the pandemic and the oil crash took their toll on the London-based company, which reported a USD 216 mn loss (pdf) last year. In response, Pharos was forced to make salary cutbacks, suspend dividends, and start the process to farm out its Egypt assets last year.

What Pharos is getting from the agreement: Pharos will receive USD 5 mn when the transaction is completed and USD 38.4 mn to fund future costs associated with its remaining shares in the concessions. Another USD 20 mn will be paid depending on Brent prices between 2022 and 2025, the statement said.

What they said: The move will “instantly boost” the company’s balance sheet, and by bringing in a new partner will result in increased production, CEO Ed Story said.

Advisors: Financial services company Jefferies is acting as financial adviser and sponsor to Pharos on the transaction.

Earlier this year, Pharos Energy announced an oil discovery with potential of 4.3 mn barrels in its Abu Rawash Lower “G” reservoir, and a smaller 430k barrel deposit in its Upper Bahariya reservoir, which is part of its El Fayum concession.

COVID WATCH

Health Ministry says 13 mn Egyptians have now been jabbed

Some 13 mn Egyptians have received a first dose of a covid vaccine, Health Minister Hala Zayed said during yesterday’s cabinet meeting, in a further indication that the government’s vaccination campaign is ramping up.

Wait, wasn’t it 8 mn just two days ago? According to presidential health advisor Mohamed Awad Tag El Din, who gave the figure during a Monday night interview on Ala Mas’ouleety. For both these numbers to be true, clinics around the country would have had to have handed out some 2.5 mn shots a day on Tuesday and yesterday. Unfortunately we have no way of explaining the discrepancy in these figures.

Travel vaccine centers will open their doors to all: Zayed said that travel vaccination centers would be opened to all registered Egyptians who are waiting for a vaccine in efforts to eliminate waiting lists. She said at the cabinet meeting that 617k people have been issued QR-code certificates after being vaccinated for travel purposes, while 5k people have been issued vaccine certificates for local use.

On local Sinovac production: Vacsera has so far manufactured 5 mn doses of Sinovac. The state-owned vaccine-maker earlier this month upped its production to 300k shots per day. Half of those 5 mn doses are being distributed this week, with the aim of supplying 2 mn every week, Zayed said.

The government expects to obtain 17 mn doses during September, including AstraZeneca, Sinovac, Sinopharm, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, Sputnik, and Pfizer, the minister said. Egypt is expecting the delivery of an additional 5 mn doses of Sinopharm by the end of the month and between 100-250k doses of AstraZeneca by an undetermined date.

Universities are a big part of the vaccination drive at the moment, as students of all ages resume face-to-face learning. More than 300k jabs have been given to staff, faculty, and students at university vaccination centers around the country, the statement says.

The Health Ministry reported 531 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 503 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 294,482 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,908.

STARTUP WATCH

Fintech startup Dopay raises USD 18 mn in series A round

Egypt-based fintech startup Dopay has secured USD 18 mn in funding in a series A round led by UK VC firm Force Over Mass Capital, Dutch development bank FMO and NN Group, the company said in a statement yesterday. African investor Mbuyu Capital and Nordic fund Alder Tree Investments also participated in the round.

About Dopay: Established in June 2014, Dopay provides payroll services and prepaid cards for the unbanked to accelerate financial inclusion in Egypt. The firm’s customers include McDonalds, mass transportation app Swvl, Barclays-Egypt and Bank ABC, and last month received an agent banking license from the Central Bank of Egypt.

Dopay has MENA-wide expansion plans: The funding will help the digital payments firm develop its existing business in Egypt and offer new financial services to its platform, according to the statement. The company also has “extensive MENA-focused expansion plans,” it reads, without elaborating. “We will serve a rapidly growing number of Egyptian businesses, from SMEs to major corporations, and their employees,” Dopay founder and CEO Frans van Eersel said, adding that the company was “ready to aggressively grow our solutions, leveraging up- and cross-selling opportunities, as we increase dopay’s range of services and partners across MENA.”

The company is coming off a pre-series A funding round five years ago during which it raised USD 2.4 mn from Techstars Ventures and Force Over Mass Capital. In March 2019, FMO invested EUR 1 mn in the company.

It’s shaping up to be a lucrative September — and year — for Egyptian fintech: MNT-Halan last week landed USD 120 mn in financing, in what we believe is the largest fintech round ever to take place in MENA. Meanwhile, B2B e-commerce startup and digital lender Capiter this week announced a USD 33 mn series A round, following MaxAB’s USD 40 mn round in July as the second-largest “A” round we’ve seen in 2021. Fintech and microloan solutions provider Kashat also announced a more modest USD 1.75 mn bridge funding round at the start of the week.

DEMERGER WATCH

Pioneers Holding applies to register two new subsidiaries ahead of EGX debuts

Pioneers Holding submitted a request to register its two new subsidiaries with the Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA) in preparation for their debut on the EGX, the company said in a bourse filing (pdf). The new companies — Pioneers Properties and Gadwa Industrial Development — will focus on real estate and industrial development, respectively, while the parent company will remain the financial services arm.

The company had said it plans to split into three arms in what was at the time a first-of-its-kind move in Egypt. The company hopes the move will create value for shareholders by making its various activities more easily understood by investors. The company had previously said it would spin its three subsidiaries off onto the EGX under three separate tickers in 4Q2020.

Pioneers Properties will have authorized capital of EGP 23 bn and issued capital of EGP 4.7 bn distributed among 1.05 bn shares, with each share costing EGP 5.4. Gadwa Industrial will have EGP 10 bn capital and an issued capital of EGP 2 bn distributed among 1.054 shares with each share amounting to EGP 1.9.

The demerger has been in the works since 2019, when Pioneers Holding announced its plans to restructure into three companies. The company’s shareholders approved plans to split the firm last July.

CABINET WATCH

Ins. fund for medical staff approved by cabinet

There was not much of note from the cabinet’s weekly meeting yesterday, which saw the approval of:

  • An ins. fund that would pay out EGP 100k to the families of medical professionals who sustain an injury that causes disability or die on the job. Compensation of EGP 20k-80k would be paid to those who had sustained a partial disability, while 100k would be paid in the event of total disability or death.
  • A draft presidential decision to establish a branch of Canada’s Ryerson University in Egypt, and amendments to the 2019 law regarding the establishment of Canadian universities in Egypt to allow them to offer MBA programs.
  • A partnership between the Education Ministry and Silo Egypt for Food Industries for the provision of school meals. This comes as part of a larger presidential mandate to improve child nutrition which is expected to cost a total of EGP 7.7 bn.

DIPLOMACY

Turkey could soon hand over Egyptian fugitives amid attempts to mend ties: Turkey has agreed in principle to extradite at least 20 people suspected of involvement in terror attacks in Egypt, the National reports citing Egyptian security sources. In return, the sources said Egypt would consider clamping down on the activities in Egypt of exiled US-based Turkish preacher Fethullah Gulen, whom Ankara has accused of attempting to force a 2016 coup.

Turkey really wants us to be friends: The move comes as Turkey looks to mend an almost decade-long rift with Egypt. But after a second round of talks aimed at normalizing relations last week ended seemingly without concrete progress, both Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said that Turkey needs to fulfil certain requirements before diplomatic ties can be restored. If Turkey agrees to Egypt’s demands to withdraw from Libya and end its “foreign interference,” Madbouly this week said that the two countries could potentially restore diplomatic ties before the end of the year.


UN Security Council politely declines to weigh in on GERD: As expected, the UN Security Council has issued a vanilla statement on the dispute over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), urging Ethiopia, Egypt and Sudan to return to the negotiating table under the auspices of the African Union (AU). The statement is more or less a repeat of what the council said when it laid out a neutral stance on the conflict and backed the AU process in July, despite concerted lobbying by Egypt and Sudan for a stronger stance against Ethiopia, which over the summer completed a second filling of the dam’s reservoir.

GERD talks remain gridlocked: Sudan and Egypt have long lost faith in the AU as a mediator and have been trying to persuade a new mediator to enter the fray. Ethiopia has refused to accept a new process and wants to continue with the current format. We can consider this the UNSC’s last word on the topic unless the situation changes drastically: as the council’s Indian representative put it, “as a general rule, transboundary water issues do not belong on the council’s agenda.”

Egypt acknowledged the UNSC statement: Egypt’s Foreign Ministry said that the release showed the special importance that UNSC members attach to the GERD issue.

MOVES

Alaa Eldin Mohamed was elected chairman of Misr for Central Clearing Depository and Registry in elections yesterday, Al Mal reports. Mohamed, along with the nine other board members who were elected, will serve a two-year term through to 2023 (pdf).

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ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

It was a quiet night on the airwaves on Wednesday, with no single story capturing the interest of the talking heads.

Nine’s Youssef El Husseini held a phone interview with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi (watch, runtime: 44:01). Asked about religious discourse and extremism, El Sisi spoke of the need for religious reform and new, critical interpretations of Fiqh. While there are constants in religion, some aspects must change to keep pace with the modern world, he said (watch, runtime: 3:58 | 7:31). He also spoke on the issue of human rights in Egypt, and announced the opening of the country’s largest prison complex in the coming weeks (watch, runtime: 6:26).

On a slow day, go for GERD: Egypt’s response to a neutral UN Security Council statement on the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD) dispute was among the topics discussed on Alaa Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:33 | 8:00 | 2:19). We have more on the story in this morning’s Diplomacy section, above.

Either that, or covid: The launch of the health ministry’s “Together, We Are Safe” (Ma’an Natamen) vaccination campaign by PM Mostafa Madbouly got coverage on Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:01). The campaign hopes to accelerate the vaccine rollout by raising public awareness of the importance of vaccination and convincing those who are hesitant to get jabbed already.

Also on the airwaves last night: United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Executive Director Ghada Waly discussed the UN’s latest Egypt Human Development Report in a phone interview with Al Hayah Al Youm’s Lobna Asal. (watch, runtime: 36:54)

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Human rights are once again leading the conversation on Egypt this morning: The Washington Post has been particularly vocal in its response to Tuesday’s news that the US State Department will withhold USD 130 mn in military aid to Egypt on human rights grounds. The paper’s foreign policy commentator Josh Rogin describes Biden’s choice as a weak compromise that will neither satisfy rights advocates nor meaningfully strengthen bilateral ties, while in a separate opinion piece Egyptian human rights advocate Mohamed Soltan writes that the decision betrays voters who elected Biden on a promise to pursue a rights-centered foreign policy. Meanwhile, Reporters without Borders is sounding the alarm on the mental health of detained activist Alaa Abdel Fattah, who has been held in custody for the past two years.

Also making headlines:

  • It hasn’t been a smooth entrance to Egypt for Amazon: Amazon recently opened its first African logistics center in Egypt and jettisoned its local Souq brand, but customers have been less than pleased about its service, raising questions about its competitiveness with better established local companies. (The Africa Report)
  • Fifty-three Egyptians have been repatriated to Cairo by Libyan authorities after they were arrested for attempting to migrate by boat to Europe. Two suspected human traffickers in the case are in detention in Libya, accused of kidnapping and torturing Egyptian migrants for ransom, among other charges. (AP)
  • An Egyptian man who says he was assaulted during LGBT+ conversion therapy is among those profiled in a report on the abusive practice amid moves from several countries to ban it. (Reuters)
  • Egyptian designer Noura Galal is challenging body and beauty standards through her tailor-made fashion brand Rafeya, launched in 2015. (Reuters)

ALSO ON OUR RADAR

Geely and Abou Ghaly make it official: Chinese carmaker Geely Auto has inked a strategic partnership agreement with local agent Abou Ghaly Motors to sell its vehicles in Egypt. The partnership was first announced in August, soon after GB Auto parted ways with Geely, having introduced it to the market.

PLANET FINANCE

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Short-term pain for long-term gain is Wall Street’s motto at the moment: Option trading shows that implied volatility has climbed, but the actual level of price swings has mellowed down, according to a Sundial Capital note seen by Bloomberg. That means that “in the short term, options traders are ‘smarter,’ while in the medium-term, investors have been,” the note read. Sundials’ note comes after the S&P 500’s worst week in almost three months. The firm looked at eight similar circumstances for the index historically and found that a rally always followed within two months of the S&P being within 1% of a record low while volatility was high, indicating a rally could be in the cards soon.

Pray for dispatch: Tech firm Intuit has agreed to purchase leading email marketing platform Mailchimp for around USD 12 bn in a cash and stock transaction, it announced in a statement on Monday.

Down

EGX30

11,149

-0.3% (YTD: +2.8%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

11,410

+0.3% (YTD: +31.3%)

Up

ADX

7,823

+0.8% (YTD: +55.1%)

Up

DFM

2,885

+0.2% (YTD: +15.8%)

Up

S&P 500

4,480.70

+0.9% (YTD: +19.3%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,016

-0.3% (YTD: +8.6%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 75.46

+2.5%

Down

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 5.38

-1.5%

Up

Gold

USD 1,796.60

+0.1%

Up

BTC

USD 48,208

+3.2% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 fell 0.3% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.6 bn (3.6% above the 90-day average). Foreign investors were net sellers. The index is up 2.8% YTD.

In the green: Cleopatra Hospitals (+5.9%), Ezz Steel (+2.9%) and EKH (+1.7%).

In the red: Pioneers Holding (-4%), Raya (-3.7%) and Ibnsina Pharma (-3.3%).

Asian markets are patchy in early trading this morning while US shares and most European markets look set to fall when they open later today.

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Yasmina Makram Ebeid, founder of Yasmina Makram design studio: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Yasmina Makram Ebeid (Instagram), founder of Yasmina Makram design studio.

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Yasmina Makram Ebeid, founder of an eponymous design studio based in Zamalek, Cairo. It was very obvious to me as a young girl that I should be doing something creative with colors, materials, drawings, textures, and definitely not something with numbers. But I got into business school only to realize that I disliked all the options that were being presented. I worked in the corporate world and found out that this was not really for me. It became clear to me that I wanted to do design and focus on interiors so my husband encouraged me to go back to design school in Milan at Instituto Maragoni.

I launched my own company in 2016: We focus on interiors, and we will soon be launching our product design line, and hope to develop the third segment of our business within the coming year. This would have to do with an app and digitization in general. This is still in development though. We're a team of 15; every person here really matters since we're a small team; everyone is efficient, productive, and creative.

The way my day goes about is: I love to wake up early in the morning at 7 am to see my twins off to school. By 8 am, I'm usually at the Gezira Club. I do an outdoors workout called On Track which is a great way to boost your day and feel energized. I went back to tennis this summer after a long time away from the court. Everything is within walking distance, which I really love. From the house, to the club, to the office all by foot.

When I go to the office I sit down with every team member to get updates on every project. We usually order breakfast; very often from Zooba to support local brands we love. Then I have back-to-back meetings until 4:00 PM. After that I try to catch up on industry related research. This is my creative charging time where I can produce new work. It is often hard to find time for this while running a business and managing projects but it is essential to stay up to date and continue to come up with new ideas.

I love to spend some time with my husband, the twins and Max, our dog. I look forward to going back home to spend time with the kids and help them with their homework. Back to school is a blessing although I never worked from home during the pandemic. I personally always have to leave the apartment to work from the office.

We never fully shut down our office during covid so I never experienced total lockdown. We were very cautious; distancing ourselves and applying all the rules, but I never got myself to work from home. I really need to leave the house in order to be productive. Although most of the team worked from home for a while, they really overachieved during that period, so that was nice to see.

There's a silver lining in everything that happened. While the pandemic forced many businesses to slow down, we were fortunate to design many residential projects. The trend was moving towards individuals investing more in their homes, in particular, secondary homes due to the many travel limitations.

As a working mom, there's no time to waste. So the only way I personally stay sharp is by knowing exactly what my schedule for the day looks like from the minute I wake up. You need to know exactly how your week is going to pan out. In order to stay organized and focused, I take mini breaks, because sometimes my routine gets crazy. We need to make time to unplug and to recharge. And when I say this, I mean no Instagram and no WhatsApp.

For our company, there's room for growth. We can always be more focused on sustainability instead of luxury, because design as a global industry is moving towards four things: sustainability, innovation, creativity and functionality. So I think we've been delivering on most of these. But there's a lot of room for improvement on sustainability in particular so we will be doing lots of research to incorporate it effectively in current and future projects.

The pandemic has taught me how perseverant I can be. Even if there's a global crisis, there's always a way to re-gear and rethink. How can we position ourselves now with what's happening in the world? How can we be part of this in a positive manner? I think positive. The minute you get negative, you bring yourself and the people around you down. You have to stay positive and spin the negative situations by learning from them.

My go-to books always are Ayn Rand The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged. From a business angle, I have a friend who just recommended a book called Powerful by the Netflix HR Patty McCord. It is about working your team efficiently through very difficult times. The one TV series that I can watch over and over again is Mad Men. I just love the set design, the characters, and the '70s in general. I’ve watched it three times.

I find inspiration in cities, architecture, history, fashion, nature and art. Most recently, I visited the Musée national of artist Fernand Léger located in Biot, France and was blown away. I found his use of color, lines and geometries to be very contemporary yet retro.

CALENDAR

10-17 September (Friday-Friday): CIB Egyptian Squash Open, Giza.

13-21 September (Monday-Tuesday): EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference.

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

18 September (Saturday): Expiration of United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

29 September (Wednesday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

30 September (Thursday): First tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

28 October (Thursday): Second tranche of overdue subsidy payouts will be handed to eligible exporters.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo, Egypt International Exhibition Centre.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.