What We Do - CEI

What We Do

Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation (CEI) is dedicated to nurturing entrepreneurship knowledge in the region, especially for youth and women; supporting the entrepreneurial ecosystem; while advocating sustainable entrepreneurship that acts as a catalyst for growth and innovation.

Our roadmap to execute our mission is through spearheading initiatives that enhance entrepreneurship networking, learning capabilities, and entrepreneurs’ support, such as:

Entrepreneurship Development

Build institutional capacity to run world-class entrepreneurship education programs. This is attainable through capitalizing on the Babson Collaborative University membership to explore innovative and impactful ways of shaping the next generation of entrepreneurs through faculty development and academic programs enhancement.

CEI Launched the Experiential Learning Entrepreneurship Program (ELEP) in fall 2020.

The program aims at providing experiential learning opportunities to entrepreneurship students, enhancing their understanding of the material they’re learning, and expanding their scope of practical knowledge. The program includes the following: CEI Launched the Experiential Learning Entrepreneurship Program (ELEP) in fall 2020.  The program aims at providing experiential learning opportunities to entrepreneurship students, enhancing their understanding of the material they are learning, and expanding their scope of practical knowledge.

The program includes the following:

  • Webinar Series and Mentor Workshops: During fall 2020, the series titled “Digitization and Innovation; the New Normal” tackled pressing entrepreneurship topics, where students are encouraged to engage and reflect upon within their course work, by submitting reflective reports. The objective is to educate students of the innovations driving our economies today, to expose them to the varying rising sectors, especially beyond COVID, and to inspire them to be agents of positive change ignited with an entrepreneurial spirit and drive. Continuing in 2021, several webinars were introduced to the students tackling different topics such as “Design Thinking for Innovators”, “UN SDGs: How Sustainability in Entrepreneurship matters?”

  • Business Plan Project and Pitchathon: This project targets enrolled students in the Entrepreneurship and Innovation course. Notably, this course is often registered by 100+ students from different disciplines and majors further magnifying our impact potential and diverse reach. Student teams received scheduled mentoring sessions from industry experts who guided them towards developing their business models, providing them with insights drawn from their practical experiences. An initial screening of team presentations was selected by professors to compete in the Pitchathon (Business Plan Competition) in December 2020; we had five competing teams. The winning team then participated in Babson Collaborative 2021 Global Student Challenge and two teams reached the semi-finals. This year’s Pitcahthon will be in December 2021.
  • International Entrepreneur in Residence (EIR)The American University in Cairo (AUC) Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation, in partnership with Global Business School Network and Lancaster University, brought undergraduate students a unique opportunity to work closely with a Lancaster Universitys Entrepreneur in Residence (#EIR), with extensive experience in the small and medium-sized businesses (#SMEs) world. The objective was to generate a simple comparative analysis/report, that highlights the best practices and new techniques in the EIRs field in both regions, and come up with recommendations on a comparative analysis report in the EIRs field, Public Relations. International Entrepreneur in Residence Richard Baguley, managing director of GDR Communications Ltd. Having founded and run his own successful PR business for over 20 years.

  • USAID Annual Scholar's Activity summit CEI partnered with USAID/Egypt and El re7la to implement the USAID Scholar Activity's Annual Entrepreneurship Summit 2021 on October 2, 2021. The summit was attended by 167 students 12 of which are students with disabilities. The event included guest speakers; Amr Fawzi, CEO and Founder of GoodsMart, and Hani Naguib, Evidence-Based Entrepreneurship Trainer and Innovation Facilitator. Students joined from the following universities:
    AUC, Cairo University, Ain Shams University, Alexandria University, Assiut University, Mansoura University, University of Science and Technology in Zewail City. The Annual Entrepreneurship Summit is a one-day (virtual during the COVID-19 pandemic) that created an exciting and inspiring learning experience for the scholars by engaging them with different entrepreneurial experiences at AUC. It provided inspiration, awareness, knowledge, and training for scholars. The Summit raise scholars’ awareness about entrepreneurship, engaged them in technological innovation, inspired and guided them in developing early-stage ideas that can be implemented in the present and future global markets.

Entrepreneurial Outreach

  • UN Women - Rabeha Program, in September 2020, CEI was awarded the UN Women program “Women Economic Empowerment Program – Entrepreneurship support”. Under the program, CEI aims to support women entrepreneurs to help reduce the gender gap in the Egyptian entrepreneurship ecosystem. For two years, CEI is targeting 1000 female beneficiaries age 21 and above, who often lack specific skills that are relevant for starting their own businesses. The project is paying attention to targeting women from underprivileged and rural areas in seven governorates.

  • TIEC Capacity Building Program for Female Entrepreneurs (Heya Raeda) 2021 - The objective of the program is to reach out to female entrepreneurs and allow them to start their own projects with a focus on developing the logical side of business development rather than a detailed theoretical approach, operated over 15 rounds, with each round extending five days long aims to support 300 early-stage female entrepreneurs operating in the Communication and Information Technology sector.

  • MIT VMS Program 2022 With the generous support of the IFC, the MIT agreement was signed in November 2021, so that CEI becomes a certified MIT VMS member and will establish a network of qualified mentors to guide aspiring and established entrepreneurs in Egypt throughout the startup life cycle.

Edutainment Events

Events showcasing the role of human experience in start-ups and entrepreneurship through a blend of education and entertainment, targeted at aspiring and innovative entrepreneurs in various stages and the entire ecosystem. The events showcase a full cycle of failure and success storytelling, aiming to provide entrepreneurs with validated learning.

A new initiative will be introduced in 2022, the “Business Entrepreneurship” podcasts, will be totally hosted and produced by the CEI. It will include students from the AUC, various majors, through an application that will be posted soon.

CEI Students Engagement

CEI inspires, coaches, and develops entrepreneurial students through engaged learning and strengthening community relationships. The center equips students with the tools, experiences, and networking opportunities required to enable them to creatively pursue new opportunities in start-up ventures.

Annual International Case Competition (ICC); In April 2019, the ICC brought together teams of students from all over the world, to compete in solving a challenging business case. This was the first competition of its kind organized in Egypt and focusing on business challenges facing high-growth entrepreneurial ventures. Six International and three national universities participated in the competition, a total of 34 students, eight mentors, and 14 Judges. The competition provided students with a unique learning experience to understand the business and entrepreneurship landscape in Egypt, Africa, and the Middle East, including complex issues around consumer behavior, economic trends, regulatory and policy reforms, technology adoption, and the supporting ecosystem. The aim of the case-solving competition was to blend a cross-cultural understanding of working with Egyptian students and entrepreneurs with a grasp of the Egyptian culture in a well-designed process.  The 2019 case was about SWVL, a revolutionary idea that was born from passion, loyalty, and persistence to face all challenges on the table. Swvl is not just a means to facilitate commuting, but a hunger to strive for solutions, encourage the contribution of youth in innovation, and inspire change.

However, providing the outbreak of COVID-19, and in April 2020, the case competition was held online. 11 AUC student teams competed via Zoom on identifying challenges confronting a full-service digital agency, Robusta Studios. The 4-hour online case competition was a great way and thought-provoking method for students to identify challenges facing Robusta and to develop a strategy to address these key concerns in order to help Robusta attain its goals.

Despite the different structures of the 2019 and 2020 case competitions, both proved to be highly impactful and memorable, not only to the students but also to the start-ups, mentors, judges, and the entire team.

This year 2021, the competition had a flavor from each of the last two Case competitions; it targeted international undergraduate students and was held virtually and targeted international students who wish to learn and find solutions to challenges facing rising startups in Egypt especially beyond the pandemic. The competition had a total of 34 team submissions, with a total number of 125 participants of 20 nationalities. The winning team was UTB Dream from Tecnológica de Bolívar University, Colombia.

Ideas Incubation Program (Boost); a student-led early-stage virtual incubation program only for university students. Since the majority of learning and submissions will be conducted virtually, the incubator accepts admission from university students not only in Egypt but also from the MENA region. (Plan to launch in 2022)

Annual Hackathon; Hackathons are great tools to increase students' experience working in small groups and share their creative skills; while igniting innovative solutions to current social and economic problems. Hackathons also provide great accessibility to scholarships and mentorships. In June 2020, CEI launched its first-ever Virtual Hackathon with a total of 137 teams, with a total of 388 participants, to engage in finding quick and vital solutions for the current COVID-19 crisis. With the guidance and mentorship of 43 subject matter experts and coaches, and evaluated by 26 esteemed judges. Hackathon 2021 will run in June. Hackathon 2021 was challenging students about creating helpful assistive technologies solutions to tackle people with disabilities (PWDs) challenges and find solutions to the current difficulties they are facing due to COVID-19 in two tracks. We had a total number of 143 participants from 22 different universities, regional and international. Fantastic Four from AUC and EX10 from Chulalongkorn University, Thailand won the Hackathon, receiving a prize of USD 1000.