Salma ElHariry

Vested Summit, a technology summit dedicated to conscious tech and social/community-driven startups, is taking place in El Gouna, Egypt, between 9thand 12thof May. “I cannot build technologies, because I’m not a techie, but I wanted to empower techies who can disrupt the ecosystem”, Salma El-Hariry, CEO of SkaleUp Ventures says.

Vested Summit: Global thinking, local action

During the past two years, SkaleUp Ventures’ team collaborated remotely, enabling them to work out of a handful of different countries, and make global networks of connections. With team members based in Silicon Valley, Europe, the Arabic Gulf, and Egypt, the team was exposed to the innovation ecosystem from different places around the world.

The team invested a whole year into the design and the making of the summit. The idea was not to gather a large number of entrepreneurs with the biggest possible crowd of investors and venture capitals, it was rather to start a mutual exchange of knowledge for the greater good of humanity.

Global key players need to know about local talents tackling meaningful world problems. Local entrepreneurs, too, need to acquire core knowledge and learn new skills; They need to learn about the potential of frontier technologies, such as virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), robotics, and artificial intelligence (AI), they need to know how to embrace failure, and how to address challenges.

Shireen Wafaei

“Egypt, and other emerging markets, are full of local talents”, says SkaleUp Ventures co-founder, Sherin Wafaay. “We wanted to start this movement educating the system that investing in real-world problems can give them back the same financial returns, may be in a longer period of time, but socially the returns for humanity are, literally, huge”, she adds.

Conscious Tech: It’s not about going faster

Hyperloop-Oneis a major investment by Virgin into the transportation business. The project promises a high-speed transportation system that can get people between Paris and Amsterdam in 30 minutes, instead of a typical 4-hour drive. This, however, according to Wafaay is a very good example of the kind of technology that the world does NOT currently need.

“Does people really need this ?!”, Wafaay questions. The answer to this question digs deep into the concept of conscious technologies. The team behind Vested Summit is trying to push the people involved in making technology, both entrepreneurs and investors, to make the right choice.

El-Hariry suggests that a good example of what conscious technology is, would be the use of virtual reality in medical teaching and training applications. A startup she admires, but declines to name, is already working on the use of VR sets to teach medical students about the anatomy of the human body, where they can wear VR googles and see a human heart, and hold it in their hands, as they learn about the anatomy and physiology of the human cardiovascular system.

El Gouna: The perfect destination

While it would have been much easier for the team to organize the summit in Cairo, where they can get access to larger audience, less expensive logistics, and much bigger media attention, they decided to go for El Gouna, a small modern resort town located north of Hurghada on the west coast of the Red Sea.

El Gouna resonates perfectly well with the values the summit aims to voice. Being the first ever destination in the Arab region and Africa to receive a Global Greenaward, the world-renowned resort town is not just a peaceful cocoon that’s full of inspiration. It’s also a very good model for an inhabitable, sustainable, and environmentally-friendly venture, the sort of thing that Vested Summit attendees are encouraged to achieve.

“We wanted to venture out. We said, let’s move outside the city. The city is full of problems, and we want people to relax and leave their problems behind”, Wafaay explains.

Vested Summit: The emotional experience

In addition to the set of entrepreneurial and tech skills attendees are going to acquire, Vested Summit plans also to teach people how to prioritize, and how to set their goals. Many activities are scheduled to run parallel at the same time, people will have to choose based on what they are interested in. Teams will also benefit from the advantage of team working to split up, so that each person can attend a different activity. “Vested Summit is all about partnerships and connecting the dots. Partners that bring on mindful communities who understand the value of technology in solving big world problems” stated Mona Makhlouf, Head of Global Community and Partnerships of the summit.

Mona Makhlouf

Activities are planned in a way that gives attendees a sense of achievement when they walk back home. “We want them (attendees) to walk away saying, I did not even believe I can do that much in two days”, El-Hariry says describing the intense opening Hackathon, which was designed for techies to start from scratch and prototype their product and prepare a pitch in just 48 hours.

“Vested Summit is an intimate experience, principally aimed at presenting a platform for startups and ecosystem players to connect on a human level; creating long term relationships”, says Hala Gabr, the Vice president of the summit. Attendees are encouraged to build long-lasting intimate relationships through a casual atmosphere where, for the whole duration of the four-day summit, they get to sit on community tables, instead of the regular roundtables, to work, learn, and eat.

Hala Gabr

“This is a very specific niche group that we’re targeting. You need to be a techie, but you need to want to save the world”, Wafaay concludes. El-Hariry adds, “This is a risky thing to be doing. But this is what we love to do, this is who we are, and we want everyone who will be there to be inspired by love”.


Vested Summit takes place 9-12 May, at TU Berlin Gouna Campus, Gouna, Egypt.