Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2021

Statement by Laurent de Boeck, Chief of Mission of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the Arab Republic of Egypt


Esteemed guests,

It is my honour to participate today in the Youth Entrepreneurship Summit 2021.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) believes that youth entrepreneurship is a very important component of any society, including Egypt.

According to World Bank statistics, Egypt’s population sits at approximately 104 million, reaching 113 million by 2026. Concurrently, Egypt today welcomes an estimated 6.3 million migrants, many of whom live in urban settings such as Greater Cairo and Alexandria.  Egypt counts as well more than 10 million expatriates who live mainly in the Middle East.

The recent corona pandemic has had a profound effect, not only on hundreds of millions of the world’s inhabitants’ health, but the whole world has felt a far-reaching effect on mental health, economic activity and social lives. The most vulnerable in society have, quite understandably, been hit the hardest.

It is within these contexts, that this Youth Summit comes at a key time.

Sustainable and innovative economic enterprise with a focus on youth is paramount to the future of a country’s development.

According to CAPMAS statistics, youth represent an estimated 40% of the local job market, proving a driving force in the economic development of the nation.

So, it is with this background that I would like to talk to you today about IOM approach to enterprise and job creation in Egypt.

We recognise that economic growth is not a standalone process. It consists of many inter-related factors coming together and reinforcing one another to provide a fertile ground for development.

We also recognise that there cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach to enterprise and job creation.

As a result, IOM engages in a wide range of economic interventions including:

  • Entrepreneurial trainings and business formation;
  • Livelihoods and vocational trainings;
  • Apprenticeships, Job referrals & direct hiring, and;
  • The creation of start-ups, for example.

With a mandate that focuses on the orderly and humane management of migration for the benefit of all, our Organization aims to support the Government of Egypt in the search for practical solutions to migration issues, and to provide humanitarian assistance to migrants and those at risk of irregular migration.

With this in mind, IOM approach focuses on developing activities that promote the positive potential migration can have for the development of countries of origin and destination.

Our initiatives include building capacities of governmental and private sector partners to communicate with and engage the expatriate communities in actions related to their home country growth, and on contributing to the increase of more development-oriented migration policies and investments.

IOM also contributes to addressing the economic causes of migration, by enhancing the ability of governments and other actors to focus development actions on home country migration dynamics.

Projects focus on expanding economic opportunities and improving social services and community infrastructure in areas prone to economically induced outward migration, or in need of development to absorb and sustain the return of migrants to their region of origin.

IOM focuses on strengthening the economic and social development of migrants present in Egypt, as well as the Egyptian host communities. Together they play a pivotal role in the country’s socio-economic makeup.

Entrepreneurship can be an effective way to include migrants and refugees in local economies and enhance their positive contributions by sharing knowledge and entrepreneurial spirit, creating new market opportunities and generating employment.

Policies and programmes play an important role in supporting entrepreneurial activity by (and for) refugees and migrants and Egyptian host communities.

In Egypt, the research looks favourably on entrepreneurial activity. According to the American University of Cairo (AUC), 73% of Egyptians think entrepreneurship is a good career choice.

The AUC also found that 46% of Egypt adult population is able to recognise good market opportunities for new businesses, suggesting a large capability and knowledge for entrepreneurial activity.

In this vein, IOM supports the establishment of Egyptian and migrant entrepreneurial activities through the provision of financial, educational, networking and other relevant resources, to ensure the growth of locally relevant, prosperous, and sustainable initiatives.

At this stage, I would like to share with you an example of the types of sustainable entrepreneurship activities that IOM Egypt engaged in:

In 2019-2020, IOM Egypt cooperated with the social enterprise, Youthink Green, to promote green businesses and environmental entrepreneurship among migrants and Egyptians. We did it through a start-up programme that has six major components:

  1. An educational phase covering sustainability, waste management, the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals and the global environmental sustainability trends.
  2. Environmental sustainability awareness-raising campaigns reaching 36,000 individuals online, and 165 individuals through three offline campaigns.
  3. Entrepreneurship workshops with 161 attendees.
  4. Incubation Whereby 19 start-ups were selected for prototype funding, consisting of 59 of the 161 individuals;
  5. Mentorship including topics covering legalities of startups, finance management and topics needed for any entrepreneur;
  6. A final competition where, out of the 19 startups, 12 were chosen to pitch their projects and receive funding, in front of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Environment, the Ministry of Youth and Sports, private sector entities and the AUC Venture Lab Incubation Hub.

The project has chosen start-ups that were deemed environmentally friendly and more sustainable for the long term.

Another example is the engagement of IOM with the Egyptian expatriates, where we develop mechanisms to facilitate sharing expertise and invest human and financial resources in the development and growth of their region of origin. While some expatriates decided to invest in the health and education public institutions, others have engaged with their communities of origin and family members into the incubation of small-size enterprises. Together with the Ministry of State for Emigration and Egyptian Expatriates Affairs and MESMEDA, IOM accompanied those enterprises for ensuring learning management tools that would guarantee their long-term impact and sustainability. The focus has been on local community projects, funded and managed with the support of Egyptian expatriates. The type of business included waste management and environmental projects, giving a focus on the creation of green jobs.

Allow me to conclude by saying that my Organization sees entrepreneurial activity as a solid solution to economic growth and social development in Egypt.

We are committed to further support future Youth Entrepreneurship in Egypt, involving both Egyptians and migrants in Egypt, for promoting an economic and social inclusive society.


Thank you for your attention.