Problem-solving driven entrepreneurship is the future. Startups inspired by social and community challenges are becoming more successful, popular, and even profitable. Data from the 2016 Global Workforce Purpose Index indicate that employees working for companies that serve a certain purpose are more likely to stick with their companies for a longer time, and develop to be more successful leaders. Younger employees are becoming more concerned with the social impact of the companies they work for, 87% of millennials believe their company’s success should be measured on more than financial performance.

In fact, starting a business with a mission to improve the community and the lives of people is not just good for employees, companies can actually make more profit while serving a purpose. When it comes to buying products or services, 90% of consumers say they can make buying decisions based on the brand’s connection to a purpose.

The Vague Definition of Social Entrepreneurship

Salma El Hariry

And while there is a universal agreement on the value of social/community entrepreneurship, the term, “social enterprise”, itself is still “very vague”, as Salma El-Hariry, the co-founder and CEO of SkaleUp Ventures, describes. “Everybody would interpret it the way they see it. There is a need to define the new term and create a new movement with a mission”, she explains.

Together with the rest of her small team at SkaleUp Ventures, El-Hariry is working on what they call “World’s first Conscious Tech Summit”. Vested Summit is bringing together purpose-driven techies

Mona Makhlouf

from the emerging markets with the world’s savviest, passion-forward investors to the TU Berlin Gouna Campus for 4 action-packed days of events and activities, between the 9th and the 12th of May in Egypt’s renowned red sea resort town of Gouna. “We designed Vested Summit with the people. I truly believe that the next Elon Musk will rise up from the emerging markets. Vested Summit exists to find that person”, says Mona Makhlouf, Head of Global Community and Partnerships at SkaleUp Ventures.  


Starting Up a Startup Accelerator: A Journey of Learning and Exploration

Sherine Wafaai

Surprisingly, when El-Hariry and her co-founder Sherin Wafaai started SkaleUp Ventures in San Francisco in March 2016, with a mission of empowering technology startups in the emerging markets and connecting them with the world-class funds and connections they need to tackle their upcoming major challenges, they both didn’t really have much knowledge of the technical aspects involved in building a tech startup to begin with.

“This company didn’t feel like a company for me, it was a journey of exploration”, El-Hariry says. Throughout the following two years, the two co-founders, together with a small team of interns, researched their way all through to the fine details of launching startups, connecting to key players, building technology, and eventually marketing it to customers and investors.

El-Hariry picked a team that shared the same goal and interests. “Facebook played a great role in this success story, it is what connected me with the team by giving me an insider story of peoples’ views and what they care about”, she explains how social media was used to create the team.

SkaleUp Ventures team did comprehensive market analysis for the startup ecosystem in emerging markets, they followed every influential person in the startup scene on Twitter, read news bulletins, and dug deep into articles detailing the startup scene and how it works. “It’s so much fun to know nothing about something, and all of a sudden to throw yourself in the deep end of its details”, Wafaay says describing the experience.

Working For a Cause: Shared Values Are Much More Important Than Money

Motivating millennials to work hard and have a good work ethic is no longer something that simply translates into investing more money towards their compensation packages. A wide-scale pivotal study claims that 94% of millennials would like to use their skills to benefit a good cause. As a part of this study, almost half of surveyed millennials, working for 300 different companies, said they’ve already volunteered on their own for a nonprofit or to serve a cause during the past month.

El-Hariry describes her small group of people as “a diverse team that shares the same values and resonates at the same wavelength”. This comes as no surprise since the company operated at zero-cost for several months during its early stages. Interns worked hard with no payroll, motivated only by believing in the same shared goal. “We wanted to help technology companies from this part of the world to scale up, and get access to knowledge, resources and investments”, she says.

Hala Gabr

In less than a month, SkaleUp Ventures is bringing to the peaceful town of Gouna speakers from Stanford’s Peace Innovation Lab, Philips, 500 Startups, Microsoft, and MIT Lab, as well as big shot investors and venture capitals to see for themselves what conscious-oriented tech entrepreneurs from the emerging markets are capable of doing. “Being an inspirational walk into the future, Vested Summit is a place for all those passionate about technology, those eager to retain the talent of the region, those envisioning conscious innovations & conscious investments, and those imagining a better tomorrow, says Hala Gabr, the Vice president of the summit, describing the upcoming experience. 

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

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