EG Bank’s MINT Platform is preparing to graduate 12 new startups. MINT is a platform dedicated to the young and curious, enabling youth to access the world of banking, accelerate their business, and unleash their potential. This is a youth space to explore and build their future.
Ahmed Samir, MINT Incubator Program manager, said that MINT aims to help start-ups develop themselves to achieve growth which contributes to youth support who represent the largest group of Egyptian society.
Daily News Egypt sat down for an interview with Samir, the transcript for which is below, lightly edited for clarity:
What type of services offered by MINT for entrepreneurs?
The MINT programme is financed by Egyptian Gulf (EG) Bank. It aims to support entrepreneurs and youth within the age group of 18 to 35. This support includes financial services offered by the bank and non-financial services. Through these services, we aim to help young people who represent about 50% of the Egyptian society to deal with banks and help them grow their business.
What non-financial services do you provide to start-ups?
There are three main points of services we offer to start-ups, the first of which is guidance through training, where the owner of the startup company meets with someone who has 10-15 years’ experience in corporate management to discuss the project, get advice, and answers to their questions.
We also help the emerging company develop an action plan, which is then reviewed by a mentor for assessment and notes. Together, they develop a timetable regarding phases for their work that they are targeting to achieve.
We also offer companies workshops with specialists to help start-ups develop their own marketing plans that help them to develop clear marketing plans suitable for the market and nature of their work.
There are many other services too. We provide workshops for over 13 specialties, including digital marketing, branding, negotiation skills, attracting funding, presenting ideas, and pricing.
Which parties collaborate with you?
We are keen to cooperate with mentors from different sectors who have experience in running a new business, whereby they can understand the journey of startups and help them grow.
When selecting mentors, we also bring them from a different sector from that of the start-ups, as a means for them to not worry about conflicts of interest or information leakage.
What type of criteria company becomes approved to be subject of your programme?
At first, we do not focus on the sector in which emerging company operates, but the most important thing is that there is an opportunity for growth for this company and to be new and provides a solution to a problem that exists in society.
For example, a company called Gedar (Wall) is one of the companies that benefits from our programme even though it offers services that are not related to the technology sector.
The company is made up of a group of young people who draw on walls to give offices in the companies an aesthetic appearance that helps improve the productivity of work according to recent scientific research.
We have found a great opportunity for the growth of the company, due to the presence of a large number of young people from the faculty of Fine Arts, in addition to having a need in the market for such services, all of which increase the chances of growth of the company in the market.
Another example is an application called Odiggo. It specialises in providing auto spare parts at the official price, which helps clients get them lower than the market price. The parts can be bought online and delivered.
How many companies have benefited from your services thus far?
In the first round, we helped 10 companies. The new programme that begins in September will help 12 companies spanning three months.
How do you choose these companies?
We select the companies according to several criteria, but initially, they register on the site and we choose the ones that meet the conditions. This round, 120 companies have submitted their applications, and we approved 40 of them in the short list before going into another round reviewed by a jury.
The jury then examines the companies. They ensure they help to solve a problem and the owner of the company is an ambitious person. The product or service offered by the company must also be able to attract investments and make profits.
How many jury members do you have? which specialties do they come from? ?
The number of members of the jury reaches 16 from different disciplines.
Compared to other business incubators do you classify as competitors or complementary to their services?
We are part of the environment for entrepreneurship and our services complement other business incubators in the market. Our efforts and the efforts of other companies contribute to the integration and growth of the market.
What type of problems do emerging companies face?
We have noticed many problems encountered by start-ups, including that the founder of the company is usually highly invested in the technical part and not familiar with other aspects, such as marketing or management or other specifications.
Legal advice is a service that startups need and which is not properly offered to startups. We are currently negotiating with a legal consultancy to help start-ups.
In past five years, term entrepreneurship, emerging companies have spread. Do you see it as merely ‘a bubble or real industry?
If we look at the economies of the world, we find that the emerging companies represent a large proportion of the economic component of the state, which plays the largest role in creating jobs and contributes to the solution of social problems.
In your opinion do you see present environment for emerging business sector appropriate or lacking further adjustments?
For the success of an emerging company, the founder of the company must be constantly developing their skills and able to explore opportunities in the environment in which they work.
Can government agencies play a role in improving climate for emerging companies?
The government has already begun to help the sector to grow. For example, the investment law explained many things to start-ups and the government itself has begun to invest in some business incubators and are encouraging banks to finance small businesses, which will greatly contribute to market growth and improvement.