As part of its annual business plan competition for university students, the Entrepreneurs’ Society (ES) at The American University in Cairo (AUC) held its first Junior Business Plan Competition this year, inviting high-school students to present entrepreneurial solutions for pressing issues in Egypt.
First-prize winners, who received a monetary award of LE 5,000, addressed the burden some issue of costly private tutorials in Egypt’s public schools through a project called Tafawoq (Excellence). The project, presented by students from Hayah International Academy, is a cost-effective, innovative online platform that compiles lesson summaries, assignments and instructional videos across all educational levels. Students are able to access these resources for a small subscription fee.
Another project, The Locator, was awarded second place. The project, also presented by Hayah International Academy students, employs a sophisticated global positioning system chip that can be easily attached to items or individuals for the purpose of tracking them in case they are lost.
Other teams were honored and presented with various awards including the Social Entrepreneurship Award, the Most Dedicated Award and the People’s Choice Award.
“The Junior Business Plan Competition is an important step forward that ES has taken this year to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship to high-school students,” said Iman Seoudi, assistant professor of management and ES faculty adviser. “It’s impressive to see how innovative those young people are and what they can contribute when given the chance. At ES, we dream of spreading this spirit to all Egyptian youth.”
The Junior Business Plan Competition was held over four phases, culminating in an awards ceremony. Initially, teams were required to write an executive summary of their business proposals. Next, participants presented a one-minute elevator pitch and spent a week writing a business plan that detailed the way their project would address a specific, well-defined societal need. Finally, team members gave a five-minute presentation at AUC, highlighting key aspects of their proposals.
“The competition really seeks to encourage Egypt’s youth to think outside the box,” said Doha Tantawy, academic head of the Junior Business Plan Competition and AUC finance student. “We’re hoping that by promoting an innovative entrepreneurial spirit, we will have a positive influence on the way people think and address their everyday problems.”
A team of eight moderators from the Entrepreneurs Society held after school mentoring sessions at Hayah International Academy and El Alsson British and American International School. The sessions educated participants on best ways to present the most compelling elements and financial details of their projects in their executive summaries, elevator pitches and business plans.
“I was awed by some of the ideas that were presented this year,” said Tantawy, noting the high level of competition among the 11 teams. “These participants, who are 15 years of age on average, were coming up with ideas similar to those presented by university students. I told myself that if Egypt’s youth were capable of such great ideas, then the country’s future surely lies in good hands.”