On the 2nd and 4th of October, after an engaging and hybrid 3 months of matchmaking, training meetings and workshops, the 2021 edition of the Mentor-Driven Capital (MDC) program in Somaliland and Egypt came to a close. Thanks to the collaboration with partners Innovate Ventures Shaqodoon, Shuraako in Somaliland and Ahead of the Curve, HiM Angels, Cairo Angels, AUC Angels, Alex Angels, Innoventures and IceAlex in Egypt, VC4A was able to connect 24 business mentors with 24 startups, with 8 of the 10 Somaliland startups being led by women, thanks to Innovate Venture’s Women Business Accelerator.
The main goal of MDC is for (starting) business mentors to better understand how to add value to startups through sharing their knowledge, experience and network. After first following the publicly available online Mentor-Driven Capital course, the mentors also attended sessions with experts like Ali Bosir from Telesom, Fatima Omer from Papaya Group (Somaliland) and Ayman Ismail of American University of Cairo and Tarek El Kady of Alex Angels (Egypt). Finally, through frequent learning and reflection sessions with their peers, the mentors brought their mentoring skills to a next level.
The mentors from this year’s cohort agreed that approaches like MDC are much needed. For Somaliland, Naimo Bakar from ZIHRA Designs indicated: “joining the mentor-driven capital program was an eye opening experience for me. It was also a great opportunity to meet different people from different professional backgrounds.” And even though the start-up scene in Egypt is more advanced, Habiba Helmy from Arab Bank Egypt stresses the added value of MDC for Egyptian mentors: “I see a lot of businesses every day, but it’s different when you’re more hands on, to actually be in touch with the entrepreneurs. I loved it.”
As much as the MDC program is primarily focused on mentors, the startups also reaped the benefits of the guidance of the mentors. Muna Abdilahi from Dagan Decors says that “it’s a very helpful program for startups, and as a startup, it has taught me so many things I didn’t consider when I was starting the business.” Karim Megahed from Golodger also indicated: “my mentor comes from a legal background, he was an eye-opener to take care of our legal issues, we will definitely continue the relationship”
The MDC activities in Somaliland and Egypt are part of the broader Work in Progress project, led by Oxfam. The aim of the project is to increase youth employment opportunities. With MDC, VC4A aims to build the next generation of strong business mentors, who in turn can support Somali and Egyptian startups in their growth trajectory, leading to a steady increase in new jobs.