Today’s meetings and discussions revolved around the concept of “the entrepreneurial spirit.” What is it? Is it a cultural thing? Can it be taught? Do Egyptians have it?
At most of the meetings we had there was some discussion about how Egyptians did not have the entrepreneurial spirit and that the concept of “entrepreneurship” is new to Egypt. The team thought that this was quite depressing. Upon reflection we came up with the following thoughts:
- The entrepreneurial spirit is something that is inherent in people; it is not something that can be taught.
- Egyptians do have the entrepreneurial spirit, as witnessed by the vast number of fruit vendors, independent taxi drivers, and Coca-Cola cart dispensaries.
- The major barrier to the large-scale, formal entrepreneurship are: 1) creating scale, 2) obtaining credit (difficult to do because of lack of credit and inability to get guarantee backing), 3) barriers to legalization (getting permits, paying taxes, etc.).
But we find that these problems are more tangible and can be addressed either by the team (in our recommendations) or CRS and their partners in a large-scale way. Things such as finance, marketing, and sales can be taught. Problems such as legalization and obtaining credit can be overcome through innovative solutions.
We met with three different organizations today: the Egypt Works projects (a CRS-USAID cash for work program which has multiple projects, two of which were 1) a public work/construction project in Qeba’a and 2) a production project [made up of women making overshoes and medical gloves]); the American Chamber of Commerce: Egypt; and Nahdet el Mahrousa (Twitter: @NahdetMahrousa).
These three organizations gave us great insight in trying to narrow down our problem as well as to brainstorm some solutions. More on that later! Ila al-liqa’!