Entrepreneurs in Egypt: Youssef Essam El-Din
Young entrepreneurs in Egypt are part of a new wave of self-employment sweeping the nation, and Mostafa Shahat writes about them.
Entrepreneurship has affected many different industries in Egypt, and health food was one of them. It is challenging to find affordable organic food in Egypt that is planted without chemicals, but as usual, these challenges create entrepreneurs who are willing to work on ideas and create change.
Youssef Essam, an agricultural engineer, graduated in 2001 from Assuit University , and has done his pre-masters on agriculture economy at Minia University. Youssef has worked as dietitian in different agriculture companies in Egypt.
He used to work with Business Enterprises Support Tools (BEST) association, an NGO funded by the UNDP and SFD (Social Fund for Development) that aims to enhance rural economic development and employment through support to micro and small enterprises working in agricultural field. It offers marketing and sales services as well support for entrepreneurs to export their products in different regions.
Youssef worked as Business Development Services officer and a trainer in the agricultural product of mushrooms, teaching almost 150 entrepreneurs about how to plant good quality organic mushrooms.
Youssef’s first venture lasted for four years and was called El-Marahy, which means farms in English. He provided consultancy services for entrepreneurs working in agricultural enterprises in general, and those who plant mushrooms in particular.
‘Egypt’s weather doesn’t support planting mushrooms, as we are always having hot weather and mushrooms need cold weather’, says Youssef.
Youssef believes that organic and healthy food should be available and cheap for all Egyptians and that we need to change our unhealthy food habits. Youssef decided to start a new venture called Reefy, which means Rural in English.
He is reviving the heritage of ancient Egypt’s healthy food. Youssef has started by producing raw honey that is healthy and affordable. ‘Reefy honey is purified on gauze, which preserves the benefits of the products,and it’s not mixed with sugar or any other ingredients’.
Youssef has joined more than 90 fairs to sell honey products since 2013 all over Egypt. Reefy also took part in the Local Food Festival at Bibliotheca Alexandrina. It is currently producing other healthy, pure products, like Marjoram oil for burning body fat dry and semi dry dates from Siwa Oasis.
‘The political and economical instability might be challenging, as some of the fairs might be cancelled,but changing people’s unhealthy food habits and culture are more challenging, and it takes long time’.
Youssef has joined different entrepreneurship training programmes, as he believes that continuous learning will always keep him updated with news and opportunities.
Article submitted by Mostafa Shahat, the volunteer responsible for Arabic guest bloggers in the MENA region and an entrepreneur who has established one of the most successful youth communities in Egypt, Goal Oriented Learners. Mostafa studied social entrepreneurship in USA and is currently the Middle East & North Africa representative at StudySearch (Nigeria) and the Egypt representative for All Events in City (India). Mostafa is also a reporter at Nudge Sustainability Hub. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his other blog A Syrian’s Success in Egypt and more from his Entrepreneurs in Egypt series.
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