Thursday, 20 February 2020

Egypt’s economy grew at a 5.6% clip in 1H2019-2020

TL;DR

What We’re Tracking Today

It’s interest rate day: As our poll showed this week, analysts are split down the middle about whether the bank will announce its first rate cut of the new year or if it will play it safe and keep them on hold for another six weeks.

EGP WATCH: The EGP gained another two piasters against the greenback yesterday to reach 15.54. The currency has now risen by a remarkable 46 piasters in the seven weeks since the turn of the year. You can read our breakdown of the EGP surge here.

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko wraps up his two-day visit to the capital today, where he is expected to attend a meeting of the Belarus-Egypt Business Cooperation Council.

Egypt to host meeting of Africa’s top judges on Saturday: The Supreme Constitutional Court will host on Saturday the annual meeting of African chief justices, supreme court presidents, and heads of constitutional courts, reports El Watan. The three-day meeting will bring together 100 judges from 35 countries.

As February races to an end, it’s time to look at events that will drive the news agenda in March:


Rejoice: Egypt is devoid of corona. The sole person in Egypt infected with covid-19 is recovering and remains quarantine imposed by the Health Ministry, Reuters reports the World Health Organization as saying yesterday, noting that he has now tested negative for the virus. “He will remain in quarantine until the full 14-day period is over and will be undergoing further required tests to ensure he was fully recovered,” a spokesperson said in an email.

Other developments on the covid-19 front overnight:

There were only 394 new cases of El corona in China yesterday, but Iran reported its first two cases and first two deaths from the viral infection.

Economic impact: The IMF says covid-19 could present a threat to a “fragile” global economic recovery this year and the US Federal Reserve’s Open Markets Committee flagged the bug as “a new risk to the global growth outlook” when they met in January at a meeting that saw them leave interest rates on hold. The NYT and CNBC have more, or you can check the minutes yourself. Saudi Arabia’s energy minister, meanwhile, has likened the virus’ impact on the global oil market to a house fire, and China cut interest rates to prop-up its virus-hit economy.

Investors are resorting to unusual data to assess how the Chinese economy is reacting to the coronavirus outbreak. Data analytics firms are using everything from air pollution and road congestion levels to food delivery and airline bookings to piece together how the pandemic will affect economic growth, the Financial Times reports. Chinese factories are slowly reopening after a prolonged shutdown, but workers are struggling to return to their jobs thanks to travel restrictions.

enterprise

Investment banks are spending big to ensure they’re not left in the dust by fintech. Banks are spending USD 72 bn a year on average — around 18% of their operating expenses — on IT infrastructure to keep up with innovations in the fintech industry and remain competitive, Moody’s Investors’ Service said yesterday.


The race for the Democratic nomination kicks into second gear on Saturday when Nevada holds its caucuses. Progressive senator Bernie Sanders has emerged the clear frontrunner ahead of the vote, which local party officials are hoping will not be a rerun of the botched Iowa caucuses earlier this month. On that front, the New York Times has a good breakdown of what happens when you pair technology with an arcane electoral system many see as not fit for purpose (yes, in Las Vegas card games are actually used to award delegates).

Would-be nominees debated overnight in Las Vegas, and Bloomberg founder Mike Bloomberg was the punching bag of the evening in his first debate appearance after launching a non-traditional late candidacy. Politico, the WSJ and the New York Times have live analysts of the debate, which was still going on at 5:30am CLT. The consensus among the pundits: It’s the “most brutal debate so far.”

After Saturday, keep your eyes on the primary in South Carolina (Saturday, 29 February) and then Super Tuesday on 3 March, which will see around a third of all delegates up for grabs as voters from Maine to California head to the polls.

Note that that was 29 February — happy leap year, y’all.


Microsoft Office has a new, unified iOS app — the one we mentioned a couple of months back is now out of beta and rolling out live on Apple’s App Store. 9to5 Mac has the story, or you can jump directly to Microsoft’s preview page. The app provides Word, Excel, PowerPoint in a single app with a bunch of what appear to be cool new features.

A weekend reading recommendation: The woman shaking up the diamond industry, wherein Eira Thomas uses “radical new methods to find some of the biggest uncut gems in history.” (New Yorker)

Enterprise+: Last Night’s Talk Shows

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko's visit to Cairo was the topic du jour on the airwaves last night. We have more on what went down during the first day of Lukashenko’s trip in Diplomacy + Foreign Trade, below.

Why is Belarus important to us? Trade and tourism: Al Hayah Al Youm's Hossam Hadad phoned former Assistant Foreign Minister Mohamed Hegazy, who noted that Belarus was a key industrial hub of the Soviet Union, making it a good trade partner for Egypt. The country is also a major source market for Egyptian tourism, with Egypt being the second most popular destination for Belarusian holidaymakers, Hegazy told Hadad (watch, runtime: 4:31). Belarus and Ukraine are excellent compensation for the current shortage of Russian tourism amid the ban of Russian flights to the Red Sea, Hegazy said. Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan also had coverage (watch, runtime: 3:04).

The recovery of Egypt’s covid-19 patient was another topic of interest to the talking heads, with both Masaa DMC’s Ramy Radwan (watch, runtime: 12:46) and Yahduth fi Masr’s Sherif Amer (watch, runtime: 4:13) taking note. We recap the story in What We’re Tracking Today, above.

A recap of key economic indicators, including GDP growth, in 1H2019-2020, which Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala El Said presented to cabinet yesterday, was also on Radwan’s radar (watch, runtime: 2:54). We have chapter and verse in this morning’s Speed Round, below.

Forbidden (mahraganat) fruit is the sweetest: A decision by the Egyptian Musician Syndicate earlier this week to ban all mahraganat (electronic folk) performances at public venues will actually make the genre more widespread, politician and thinker Mostafa El Feki told Amer (watch, runtime: 2:28).

Speed Round

Speed Round is presented in association with

Egypt's economy grew at a 5.6% clip in 1H2019-2020, Planning Minister Hala El Said told cabinet yesterday. Retail was the primary driver of growth during the first six months of the fiscal year, accounting for 14.7% of the period’s economic expansion, followed by the industrial sector (12.6%) and agriculture (12%). The growth was also driven by the oil refining, communications, and construction sectors, as well as continued growth in the tourism industry.

Egypt is easily growing faster than the global average this year, which the IMF revised downward to 3.3% in January, El Said noted. The FY2019-2020 state budget (pdf) targets GDP growth coming in at 6% throughout the fiscal year, up from 5.6% in FY2018-2019. The Finance Ministry recently revised downward this projection to 5.8-5.9%. Egypt’s GDP is expected to grow at an annual clip of at least 5.5% over the next few years, according to a quarterly report published by the government in December

enterprise

The Tax Authority will roll out on a trial basis its electronic tax filing system in April, ahead of making it mandatory for businesses to pay their taxes online “in the coming period,” according to a Tax Authority statement (pdf). The testing phase will see 100-120 companies with good records of paying their taxes, which the authority will select, file their taxes online, the local press reports, citing government sources. The authority intends to make electronic tax filing mandatory for all businesses once the testing phase is complete. The statement did not disclose the expected timeline for this process. A Tax Authority official had previously said online tax filing would become mandatory by mid-March.

Taxes will only be collected from one bank account: The authority is coordinating with the Central Bank of Egypt to ensure that, if an individual or business holds several bank accounts, their taxes are only collected from one of these accounts, authority head Reda Abdel Kader said, according to the local press.

Background: This is part of Egypt’s new unified digital tax payment system that Finance Minister Mohamed Maait said will be fully implemented by the end of the year, which would provide businesses with a single online system for filing and paying income tax, stamp tax and the value-added tax to streamline procedures and encourage informal businesses to go legit. The government expects to roll out a beta program for large-scale taxpayers before gradually expanding the system to encompass all tax payments. The Madbouly Cabinet greenlit the proposed legislation last year.

The Central Bank of Egypt (CBE) has launched its EGP 50 bn mortgage finance program for middle-income housing ahead of schedule, Deputy Governor Gamal Negm said, according to Hapi Journal. The program was expected to launch next month. All banks on the market will be able to grant subsidized loans for middle-income homebuyers on houses valued at up to EGP 2.25 mn. The new program, which was announced in December, is a continuation of a previous CBE initiative that ran from 2014 until January 2019. Individuals earning between EGP 4.2k-40k a month and households with monthly income between EGP 4.7k-50k will qualify for the preferential 10% interest rate on their mortgages, Negm had previously said.

Phase two of PPP schools program to kick off in March? The government is reportedly planning to launch a tender for the second phase of the ongoing public-private partnership (PPP) schools program next month, the local press reports, quoting unnamed sources. The tender is expected to see up to 70 new schools built and operated by private sector companies. Companies will be applying for prequalification this month, the sources said without stating if any have shown interest.

Advisors: The government is currently looking at potential roles for KPMG Hassan Hassan and state-owned NI Capital, who could be tapped to serve as financial advisors on the phase. Law firms Matouk Bassiouny and Sarie El Din and Partners are meanwhile being considered for legal counsel, say the sources. The advisors will help select the winning bids and set tuition fees, Amany El Far, the head of the Education Ministry’s PPP unit, told Enterprise in December.

What’s next? According to the timeline El Far gave us, the consortiums looking to bid on phase two schools will be given a 3- to 6-month submission window. The winning bids will be announced by November 2020, with an eye to sign contracts by January 2021. At the time, El Far said the tender will launch before 2019 was out, but this appears to have been delayed. It remains unclear how this will impact the initial timeline.

LEGISLATION WATCH- Amended VAT Act to remove baked snacks, shower gel from list of VAT-exempt goods: The committee drawing up amendments to the VAT Act has reportedly agreed to impose the 14% VAT tax on baked snacks, crackers, and shower gel, instead of a 5% rate currently in place, the local press reports, quoting anonymous sources. Under the existing legislation, 57 goods and services are VAT-exempt. The exemptions include tea, sugar, milk, utilities, banking services, medicines and some health services. Some of those goods are, instead, subject to a separate variable rate referred to as the “schedule tax.”

We can expect to get more clarity on the VAT amendments within the next 2 weeks: The Finance Ministry has kept its cards close to its chest so far, revealing only that paper manufacturers may be in line for a tax exemption and that the changes would try to ensure that more registered taxpayers file VAT returns and pay their taxes.

REGULATION WATCH- FRA-regulated real estate and PE funds can now sink more than 25% of capital raised into a single transaction under changes to the executive regulations to the Capital Markets Act, according to an official statement (pdf).

LEGISLATION WATCH- House committees finalize Unified Building Code draft: The House housing, constitutional, and local management committees have finalized a draft of the Unified Building Code (pdf), which will now be put up for discussion in a plenary session. The long-awaited amendments would streamline procedures and cut red tape to obtain building permits, and would make permits valid for three years instead of one. The amendments would also, if passed, impose harsher penalties on violators and state officials found guilty of not acting to penalize building code violations, especially for building on agricultural land. It also requires developers putting up buildings taller than five storeys or valued at over EGP 3 mn to buy insurance against construction-related damage to cover for any damages during construction and the guarantee period.

Background: The House of Representatives had said the Unified Building Code and a temporary legislation on settling building code violations would be passed together, since the two laws are closely intertwined. The executive regulations for the two bills were also expected to be issued last year.

INVESTMENT WATCH- Centamin “prepared” to invest more in Egypt’s mining, waiting on details of int’l gold tender: Centamin is waiting on more details on the Mineral Resources Authority’s upcoming international gold exploration and mining tender before deciding whether or not to participate, but is “prepared” to invest more in Egypt’s gold mining industry, Chairman Josef El Raghy tells Youm7. The government is set to issue the international tender for areas in the Eastern Desert next month, which will be the first tender since the Mineral Resources Act was amended last year and the first for gold exploration since 2017.

Centamin, which is currently the only company producing gold in Egypt, already pledged USD 190 mn in investments this year to develop its Sukari mine. The London-listed gold miner, which last month rejected a takeover bid by Canadian firm Endeavour, will spend USD 95 mn on revamping the site, USD 45 mn on a new waste management facility, and USD 50 mn on a 30 MW solar facility.

The tender has also drawn interest from other industry players, particularly following amendments to the Mineral Resources Act: Naguib Sawiris said earlier this week that he is in talks with the government to participate in the tender, although it remains unclear which company he is involved with is holding the talks. Sawiris is chairman of La Mancha, the largest shareholder in Endeavour Mining. He also praised the executive regulations to the amended Mineral Resources Act, which has allowed for the issuance of new gold exploration tenders and requires companies to pay a minimum royalty of 5% of annual production, with the cap set at 10% for mineral ores and 20% for other resources.

M&A WATCH- Speed Medical signs management + acquisition agreement with Ismailia’s Safwa labs: Speed Medical has signed an agreement to acquire Ismailia-based medical labs chain Safwa later this year after managing Safwa’s five branches for a few months on a trial basis, Speed said in a disclosure to the EGX (pdf). Speed is targeting adding 30 labs and outpatient clinics this year at an investment cost of EGP 160 mn, Chairman Mahmoud Lasheen said in November. The company’s board recently approved raising issued capital by 211% to EGP 221.82 mn as part of a plan to move from small-cap NileX, where the company is currently listed, this quarter, according to a filing to the EGX (pdf).

IPO WATCH- Orthomedics Egypt eyes EGX listing by 2022: Prosthetics company Orthomedics Egypt is looking to offer 49% of its shares in an IPO on the EGX in 2022, Chairman Khaled El Deeb said at a presser yesterday, according to the local press. The IPO proceeds would be used to finance a planned EGP 20 mn factory in Katameya, the output from which would be earmarked for exports to Africa. No further details on the planned transaction were provided.

Chambers Global names top Egyptian arbitration litigators: Chambers and Partners, one of the top global directories of legal practitioners, has released its 2020 list of top-ranked Egyptian arbitration firms and lawyers. Top arbitration litigators listed in this year’s ranking include: In Band 1, Karim A. Youssef (Youssef & Partners), in Band 2, Ashraf Yehia (Ashraf Yehia), Girgis Abd El- Shahid (Shahid Law Firm), Khaled El Shalakany (Shalakany Law Office), Mohammed Gomaa (Zaki Hashem & Partners), and Tarek Riad (Tarek Riad — Legal Consultants), and in Band 3 Amr Abbas (Matouk Bassiouny), John Matouk (Matouk Bassiouny), Hazem Rizkana (Rizkana and Partners), and Tewfik Shehata (Shehata Attorneys at Law). Mohamed S Abdel Wahab (Zulficar & Partners) was noted under Star Individuals.

MOVES- The International Finance Corporation (IFC) has tapped Beatrice Maser as its new director for the Middle East and North Africa, based in Cairo, according to an emailed statement (pdf). Maser, who previously served as an ambassador for Switzerland, succeeds Mouayed Makhlouf.

CORRECTION- We incorrectly stated in our analysis of the EGP yesterday that annual tourism revenues rose from EGP 3.5 bn to USD 12.6 bn since 2015. Revenues increased from USD 3.5 bn, not EGP 3.5 bn. We also have amended the export figures, which rose from USD 7 bn in 2016 to USD 28.5 bn in FY2018-2019, rather than increasing by USD 10 bn to USD 29 bn as previously stated. The oil sector was the driving force behind the rise in exports. H/t Heba El-T.

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The Macro Picture

African governments amass record-breaking debt, raising concerns on repayment: African countries have amassed FX-denominated sovereign debts at a record rate over the past few years, fueling concerns that some governments will struggle to repay these debts as they mature during the next decade, reports the Financial Times. The borrowing frenzy has brought the total amount of outstanding sovereign eurobonds held by 21 African countries to USD 115 bn — and yield-hungry investors have been all too happy to bite.

The notion of some of these countries finding themselves in a tough spot when it’s time to pay the pied piper is not farfetched, analysts say. Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Tunisia, and Nigeria have met their foreign bond repayment obligations, but not all countries are in a similarly comfortable position. “If the repayment date comes up when a currency is doing badly or there’s off-risk sentiment, they’re pretty exposed,” says Capital Economics senior emerging markets economist John Ashbourne.

Eurobond debt exposure is similarly an issue with emerging markets: Fitch Solutions had warned in a webinar we attended last year that EMs’ borrowing binge since the 2008 global financial crisis has created a “Achilles heel” in the form of USD-denominated debt exposure. The IMF said shortly thereafter that EM state-owned enterprises in particular are also facing a “concerning” rise in their debt burdens, which account for a “significant portion” of all EM debt securities. EMs’ FX funding needs are therefore expected to soar this year, when USD 800 bn-worth of debt on foreign currency bonds and loans are due for repayment.

Image of the Day

Presented without comment: A sign posted on the doors of a Chinese restaurant in Egypt.

Egypt in the News

It’s another relatively quiet morning for Egypt in the news, with no particular story leading the conversation.

Diplomacy + Foreign Trade

Egypt and Belarus signed several cooperation MoUs during Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to Egypt, which saw him meet with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi, Ittihadiya said in a statement. The agreements will set up a committee of senior officials to promote dialogue and set the stage for partnerships between the National Bank of Egypt and the National Bank of the Republic of Belarus, the country’s central bank. The two countries also inked an agreement to provide “mutual support” on customs duties and tariffs. Belarus is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU), with which Egyptian trade officials are in talks over an agreement that would set up customs-exempt trade zones in Egypt.

Basic Materials + Commodities

Almarai receives USD 100 mn EBRD loan for Egypt, Jordan investment

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) has loaned Saudi dairy firm Almarai USD 100 mn for new investments in Egypt and Jordan, the development bank announced in a statement. An undisclosed sum will go to the company’s Egyptian subsidiary Beyti to help it increase production capacity of its dairy and juice products. The announcement came a day after Beyti CEO Mohamed Badran revealed plans to increase exports by 10% during 2020. Beyti signed a EUR 44 mn loan agreement with the EBRD in 2018 to finance expansion and capital expenditures.

Egypt’s strategic reserves of wheat, sugar to last around 5 months

Egypt has strategic reserves of wheat that would last 4.7 months and sugar that would last 5.3 months, Supply Minister Ali El Moselhy told MENA, according to Reuters. El Moselhy added that Egypt is aiming to procure 4 mn tonnes of wheat in the next season that starts on April 15. The ministry is also looking to private sector manufacturers to plug the 700k tonne deficit in domestic sugar production, reports the local press. Egypt currently produces 2.3 mn tonnes of refined sugar, while consumption sits at 3.2 mn tonnes.

Manufacturing

Egypt’s sovereign fund in talks with ‘major’ private partner to manufacture EVs

The Sovereign Fund of Egypt (SFE) is in talks with an unnamed “major” private sector company to set up a JV to manufacture electric cars in eastern Port Said, Suez Canal Economic Zone (SCZone) head Yehia Zaki said, without providing further details. This came after the SFE held a meeting with representatives from the SFE and a group of private sector companies interested in manufacturing projects in the canal governorate. Among the projects SCZone authorities are touting is an industrial zone in the area dedicated to metal casting as the world’s largest castings manufacturer, China’s Wuhan, is falling behind on production amid the covid-19 outbreak.

Health + Education

Egypt to complete construction of ICT university in the new capital by 2020 end

Egypt will complete the construction of the planned ICT university in the new capital’s so-called “knowledge city” by the end of the year, ICT Minister Amr Talaat said during the ongoing Edu Gate forum, which wraps up today, according to Youm7. The university is billed as the first in the MENA region to be fully dedicated to ICT.

Egypt’s Cairo University ranked 178th in Times Higher Ed EM university list

Cairo University was ranked 178 in Times Higher Education Emerging Economies University Rankings 2020, rising up from 201-250 in last year’s ranking.

Real Estate + Housing

Talaat Moustafa to set up Four Seasons-branded Luxor hotel under PPP contract

Talaat Moustafa Group (TMG) signed a contract with the Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH) that will see TMG subsidiary Icon establish the planned Four Seasons-branded hotel in Luxor under a PPP framework, TMG said in a regulatory filing (pdf). The 200-room hotel is expected to cost up to EGP 1.5 bn. TMG will cover the full cost of construction, which is expected to take three and a half years, through equity, Moustafa said in a press conference. EGOTH will provide and retain ownership of the land for the hotel, while TMG will own the building under a revenue-sharing model. Separately, TMG said it is currently in talks over an unspecified project in the new administrative capital, according to a EGX filing (pdf).

Banking + Finance

EGOTH signs EGP 400 mn loan agreement with NBE to renovate Mena House

The Egyptian General Company for Tourism and Hotels (EGOTH) has signed a EGP 400 mn loan agreement with the National Bank of Egypt to fund the renovation of the historic palace adjacent to the Marriott Mena House hotel, reports Masrawy. The funds will be drawn out from the EGP 50 bn set aside by local banks to support the tourism sector under a recently expanded Central Bank of Egypt program.

Tourism

El Sisi approves bill to make Grand Egyptian Museum economic public authority

President Abdel Fattah El Sisi has ratified a bill to turn the Grand Egyptian Museum (GEM) into an economic public authority affiliated with the Tourism and Antiquities Ministry, GEM General Supervisor Atef Moftah told Ahram Online. The authority will be in charge of displaying collections and preparing digital documentation on recording, securing, maintaining, and restoring the artifacts. The authority will be headed by El Sisi, with a board of trustees, a board of directors, and a chief executive and will have an independent budget.

Accor signs agreement to manage Movenpick Port Ghalib

Hotel group Accor has signed an agreement with Port Ghalib Resorts company to manage the new Movenpick Port Ghalib, Arabian Industry reports. The 350-room hotel is part of the first phase of Marsa Alam’s USD 2 bn Port Ghalib development on the Red Sea’s western shore and is slated for completion in 2022. Port Ghalib Resorts is wholly owned by the Kuwaiti Al Kharafi & Sons group.

Spain’s Iberia to launch four weekly chartered flight to Egypt’s Luxor in April

Spain’s Iberia Airlines will begin operating four weekly chartered flights to Luxor starting April, head of the governorate’s association of travel agencies, Mohamed Osman, said.

My Morning Routine

Ahmed El Alfi, chairman of Sawari Ventures and the Greek Campus, and co-founder Flat6Labs: My Morning Routine looks each week 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 Ahmed El Alfi, chairman of Sawari Ventures and the Greek Campus, and co-founder Flat6Labs

My name is Ahmed El Alfi, and I’m the chairman of Sawari Ventures and the Greek Campus, and co-founder Flat6Labs. All three of our companies support entrepreneurs to transform their ideas into successful companies. I spent a significant amount of my life in the US but after seeing the huge potential of the tech startup scene in Egypt to generate homegrown solutions and create impact, I decided I wanted to be part of that and moved here in 2006.

I wake up early, between 5 and 6 am, check for messages from my kids who live abroad, read the news and wait for Enterprise to hit my inbox. I then head to the Gezira Club with my wife Manal to walk or play golf for an hour or two. We have breakfast together and then I drop her off and arrive at Sawari between 9:30 and 10 am. A couple of afternoons a week I go to the Greek Campus, a hub for startups in downtown Cairo. There are around 140 companies based there and we will be opening in several new locations across Egypt this year.

The highlights of my day are the conversations I have with people I work with, who challenge me daily to look at things from a different perspective, and seeing the cool new ideas entrepreneurs are coming up with. The worst part of my day is having to work on problems that many of the startups face and bureaucratic hassles that all of us face in Egypt.

One of my recent favorite TV shows is Inside Bill’s Brain, the three-part Netflix series on Bill Gates. In my opinion, he is the most impressive person of my generation. I particularly admire how he actively chose each one of the steps to transition from being a techie to the leader of a great company and the richest man in the world to focusing solely on solving some of the most pressing problems facing humanity and leaving the world a better place. This is something that I am constantly thinking of: How I can use the resources I have to improve the world around me. One of my attempts was to start Nafham, an online educational platform that gives free video tutorials covering the Egyptian, Saudi and Syrian public school curriculums.

One of the best books I’ve read recently is The 40 Rules of Love by Elif Shafak. It's a book about Jalal El Din El Rumi and Shams El Din El Tabrizi and it follows Rumi's journey from a rigorous scholar to a spiritual Sufi. I don't think I can recommend a book more. It touches on this notion that all of us have a chance to evolve and improve as human beings.

Sawari Ventures is a EGP 1 bn venture capital fund focused on Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco. We invest in companies that have a team, a product, and customers that need capital to grow. Venture capital is the prime source of funding for high-growth companies because debt doesn't work for them. They’re growing so fast that they can’t afford to take on the risks of borrowing money. Our company allows them to take risks.

Flat6Labs comes in at an earlier stage than Sawari. It takes entrepreneurs and helps them launch their plan through funding, training and mentorship. Flat6Labs has a sub-division called StartEgypt, which provides general entrepreneurship training to people across Egypt who are finding creative solutions to social problems.

We don't just give money to people. We like to think of our investments as long-term relationships that include the financial support and guidance necessary for creativity to flourish and risks to be taken. People often think that VCs go in, take over companies and run them, but it is more akin to a marriage where we work alongside companies as a form of support.

Technology is certainly the biggest force for change in the industry. I think 2020 is going to be a breakout year for tech in Egypt and you’ll see some amazing products and services that will compete at the global level. Fintech in particular is a promising avenue for young entrepreneurs due to the level of government support and its ability to reach a broad audience. I think fintech should be thought of as infrastructure — like a fiber optic cable or a highway — because all three of these things increase the ease of doing business.

My generation has left a lot of problems for today’s generation, but I’m confident in the resilience and creativity of young people to solve many of these. Our role in supporting them should be to empower them to do this and forge new economic paths, rather than steering them toward a predetermined 'stable career path'. We must encourage and empower this new generation to take risks.

The best business advice I received came from my father who taught me that leadership is a privilege and that you have to be worthy of the people you lead. An additional piece of advice that I often give people is that optimism is a choice that one makes every morning.

The Market Yesterday

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EGP / USD CBE market average: Buy 15.55 | Sell 15.65
EGP / USD at CIB: Buy 15.55 | Sell 15.65
EGP / USD at NBE: Buy 15.57 | Sell 15.67

EGX30 (Wednesday): 13,695 (+0.4%)
Turnover: EGP 679 mn (16% above the 90-day average)
EGX 30 year-to-date: -1.9%

THE MARKET ON WEDNESDAY: The EGX30 ended Wednesday’s session up 0.4%. CIB, the index’s heaviest constituent, ended up 0.8%. EGX30’s top performing constituents were Porto Group up 3.7%, Dice up 2.8%, and SODIC up 2.4%. Yesterday’s worst performing stocks were Orascom Construction down 1.4%, EFG Hermes down 1.0% and Palm Hills down 1.0%. The market turnover was EGP 679 mn, and domestic investors were the sole net buyers.

Foreigners: Net Short | EGP -20.4 mn
Regional: Net Short | EGP -61.7 mn
Domestic: Net Long | EGP +82.2 mn

Retail: 36.7% of total trades | 38.9% of buyers | 34.4% of sellers
Institutions: 63.3% of total trades | 61.1% of buyers | 65.6% of sellers

WTI: USD 53.51 (+0.41%)
Brent: USD 59.23 (+0.19%)

Natural Gas (Nymex, futures prices) USD 1.96 MMBtu, (+0.31%, March 2020 contract)
Gold: USD 1,612.20 / troy ounce (+0.02%)

TASI: 7,967.60 (+1.38%) (YTD: -5.03%)
ADX: 5,073.83 (+0.36%) (YTD: -0.04%)
DFM: 2,728.05 (-0.77%) (YTD: -1.33%)
KSE Premier Market: 6,775.01 (-0.39%)
QE: 9,878.34 (+1.05%) (YTD: -5.25%)
MSM: 4,174.77 (+0.62%) (YTD: +4.86%)
BB: 1,664.18 (+0.25%) (YTD: +3.35%)

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Calendar

February: An Italian business delegation will visit Egypt to discuss investments in the Port Said industrial zone.

February: Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel-Ghaffar will visit Minsk, Belarus.

19-21 February (Wednesday-Friday): Egyptian Chamber of Leather Industry will participate in the Lineapelle Milano International Trade Fair, Milan, Italy.

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

23 February (Sunday): Court session for Arabia Investments Holdings’ lawsuit against Peugeot. It was previously postponed to 24 November 2019 and then to 5 January 2020, and now 23 February.

23 February (Sunday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group compensation claim against Antaradous

23 February-29 February (Sunday-Saturday): 20 Egyptian companies will participate in the “Egyptian Trade Week” in Kampala, Uganda.

March: An international conference to market investment prospects in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

March: South Korean business delegation to visit Egypt.

March: The Middle East and North Africa Financial Action Task Force (MENAFATF) will visit Egypt to assess the progress of actions taken to combat money laundering and terrorist sponsoring activities.

1 March (Sunday): Egyptian Mining Day, Prospectors & Developers Association of Canada Convention, Toronto, Canada.

1 March (Sunday): A conference on “logistics and its impact on the movement of goods and industry,” venue TBD, Alexandria.

2-5 March (Monday-Thursday): EFG Hermes’ 16th annual One on One conference, Atlantis, The Palm, Dubai.

3 March (Tuesday): Business Today’s bt100 awards ceremony, Cairo.

4-5 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Women Economic Forum, Cairo.

5-8 March (Wednesday-Saturday): 25 Egyptian companies will participate in a forum on investment in startups in Saudi’s King Abdullah Economic City.

6-8 March (Friday-Sunday): Arab Banking Forum, for heads of risk management in Arab banks, organized by the Union of Arab Banks,with the Central Bank of Egypt and the Federation of Egyptian Banks.

7 March (Saturday): International Investment Conference for the Suez Canal Economic Zone, Al Galala City, Egypt

17-18 March (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

25-26 March (Wednesday-Thursday): Mega Projects Conference, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Nasr City, Cairo.

26 March (Thursday): Court session for Amer Group, Porto Group lawsuit against Antaradous.

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

12 April (Sunday): Easter Sunday.

20 April (Monday): Sham El Nessim, national holiday.

23 April (Thursday): First day of Ramadan (TBC).

25 April (Saturday): Sinai Liberation Day, national holiday.

28-29 April (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

5-7 May (Tuesday-Thursday): AFSIC – Investing in Africa, London, United Kingdom.

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

23-26 May (Saturday-Tuesday): Eid El Fitr (TBC).

4-6 June (Thursday-Saturday): 2020 Africa-France Summit, Bordeaux, France.

9-10 June (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

17-20 June (Wednesday-Saturday): 2019 Automech Formula car expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo.

30 June (Sunday): June 2013 protests anniversary, national holiday.

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

28-29 July (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

30 July-3 August (Thursday-Monday): Eid El Adha (TBC), national holiday.

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

20 August (Wednesday-Thursday): Islamic New Year (TBC), national holiday.

15-16 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

24 September- 2 October (Thursday-Friday): El Gouna Film Festival, El Gouna, Egypt.

6 October (Tuesday): Armed Forces Day, national holiday.

29 October (Thursday): Prophet Mohamed’s birthday (TBC), national holiday.

November: Egypt will host simultaneously the International Capital Market Association’s emerging market, and Africa and Middle East meetings.

4-5 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

15-16 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): US Federal Open Market Committee will hold its two-day policy meeting to review the interest rate.

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

25 December (Friday): Western Christmas.

1 January 2021 (Friday): New Year’s Day, national holiday.

7 January 2021 (Thursday): Coptic Christmas, national holiday.

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