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Africa calls on Egyptian Entrepreneurs – African Entrepreneurship Award 2016



The African Entrepreneurship Award 2nd Edition 2016

Coverage: Warda Rashad Abdullah

Editor: Hadeer Salah Aldeen

“Dear entrepreneurs, women (and men), are you an African entrepreneur with a great business idea that will create jobs and improve lives in your region?”

Those were the opening words of the launching video of The African Entrepreneurship Award that was shown at the Goethe Institute. The event was held on the 13th of March to raise awareness for the competition and answer all questions that the audience may have. The keynote speaker was Laila Ahlafi, who came all the way from Morocco to engage more Egyptians in the competition.

The award was first initiated by Othman Banjelloun, the chairman of the BMCE Bank of Africa at the 5th Global entrepreneurship Summit, which was held in Marrakech between the 19th and the 21st of November, 2014. Hence, the African Entrepreneurship Award “AEA” commenced its first edition in 2015 and is now in its second edition in 2016. Here is a link to an introductory video:

I couldn’t help but notice that the AEA was giving more attention to women this year. It encouraged women from all over Africa to step up and show their creativity and willingness to improve the world around them. Such encouragement is highlighted in their launching campaign videos, where they declared:

“At the African Entrepreneurship Award, we also know the challenges for women to start and grow businesses in Africa. Our mentors include women who are experienced in how to break through to customers, get initial funding, get the product to the market, and manage legal processes.”

Laila Ahlafi, the head of Digital and Communication at the African Entrepreneurship Award BMCE Bank, happily revealed that Morocco hosted all the workshops and the events related to the Award and that all the participants, mentors and partners stayed there last year. Yet, she sadly expressed how shocked the award organizers were to find only 49 registrations from Egypt among a number of 3000 registrations from all over Africa.

Of the 49 registrations, 36 ideas were officially accepted, while Nigeria alone presented 2000 project ideas in Round one. The bank committee was expecting more from a country whose population exceeds 90 million! As mentioned, only 36 project ideas were accepted and only two participants have made it to Round 1. The first was from Alexandria but he didn’t make it to Round two and the other was from Cairo. The latter passed the second round, but didn’t make it to the third round. Consequently, the bank made the decision of sending representatives to Egypt to introduce the Award, rather than fully depend on the power of the internet and social media.

As a representative of the AEA, Ahlafi said she was expecting more of Egypt this year especially when almost 15 mentors expressed their interest in being recruited in the competition that very week! She hoped the number multiplies after meeting the press in Cairo. They are currently recruiting mentors in Egypt. There was also a short video on mentorship in the competition:

The meeting was short; it only lasted for one hour. We started at 5 pm and at 6 they had to rush to catch the train to Cairo and meet the press there. I was lucky to talk to Ahlafi telling her about my own idea in the field of Education. She was really interested and gave me her business card, pointing out that she will be delighted to answer any emails. She also added that there was a whole team dedicated to answering all participants’ questions and helping them out with any troubles they might face during registration. Those interested are encouraged to contact this amazing dedicated team at

A lot of questions were raised by the audience, so I am going to highlight the answers as told by Laila Ahlafi in the following points:

  • The project idea must be sustainable, impacting people around you. It may solve a problem, satisfy a need, or provide jobs for people.
  • The project idea must be totally new; no one has applied it before.
  • There are two main categories: Education and environment. There is a third category called “Uncharted”. It includes any other domain such as agriculture, art, food so there is great flexibility.
  • Applicants can apply in more than one category with more than one project idea.
  • Even if your project idea has a social cause, it must be profitable.
  • Registration to the AEA is open from February till 6th of May 2016; however the earlier you apply, the better.
  • You shouldn’t have an ongoing project to register to the AEA competition. You can only have a good idea and then through the workshops and the meetings with the mentors, your ideas will become more tangible and real.
  • The difference between this award and other awards is that it not only gives the winners the money, but also gives the projects to incubators who live in the winners’ hometown. Thus, they continue mentorship and follow-up meetings with the winners to make sure the money is well used and the projects launch, succeed and hopefully spread all over Africa.
  • Last year, they only had one Egyptian mentor from the American University in Cairo (AUC), but this year they have many Egyptian mentors who are interested to guide and mentor participants from Egypt.
  • There is a criterion for choosing mentors. First he/she must be an entrepreneur who failed and succeeded and has been there in the entrepreneurship journey. He/she must have experience in mentoring. The problem last year was that African mentors had to mentor Egyptian participants because there was just one Egyptian mentor. This presents a challenge for the African mentors and also doesn’t help the participants so much because a mentor should know a lot about the backgrounds of the participants and all the surroundings and the obstacles they might face in their own country. Each mentor chooses the field he/she is going to mentor and the number of participants they are going to guide throughout the competition.
  • You may totally change the idea you proposed till 6th of May. In the first round, you can modify or change the idea completely and start a new one but once you move on to the second round, you cannot change it.
  • Those who entered the competition and didn’t win can still work on their ideas and apply again next year.
  • The application form is in English, French and Portuguese. Next year, organizers are likely to add Arabic as well to make it easier for Arabic-speaking countries in Africa.


Here are the links of the official sites, twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Feedburner:–

You can also get to know Laila Ahlafi through her LinkedIn profile:ïla-ahlafi-mhaimdat-0270ba82



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Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021 – where balance, resilience and authenticity break the Mental Health Stigma



Written by: Cinzia Nitti

Globally, 2020 has been a year like no other. Coronavirus pandemic caused a massive business disruption; transformation has been key in supporting employees and catalyzing workplace changes. There was a rush to adapt and reinvent Business Models. Organizations had to rethink and reconsider how they deliver services and strengthen their Organizations through a forward-thinking Digital strategy. To be more agile and responsive in such uncertain times, we need to respond to challenges and adapt quickly to new scenarios by moving from rigid hierarchies to leaner and more flexible structures.

But what about Mental Health at Work, and why is it essential?

What’s the Office of the Future?

Within the Wellbeing @ Work Summit Middle East 2021, HR Leaders tried to normalize the conversation about Mental Health by putting the topic first, enabling self-care and professional support, raising awareness, and building knowledge around its related issues. Nowadays, personal and work life are more intertwined than ever, so it becomes vital to create balance: the more employees feel free to talk about Mental Health, the more they can prevent struggle and breakout at the Workplace. HR leaders play a crucial role in making an IMPACT by pushing new solutions, promoting work-life balance, redesign workloads, and supporting their Teams.

In this general frame, Irada Aghamaliyeva (MENA Diversity, Inclusiveness & Wellbeing Leader at EY) affirmed: “Workplaces that are inclusive foster enhanced employee wellbeing; employees with high levels of wellbeing are more inclusive”. How can Organizations increase employees’ resilience and embed sustainable Leadership behaviors in the post-covid reality?

Dr. Irada Aghamaliyeva introduced the Mindfulness practice in the Workplace and highlighted its benefits on a large scale: improved wellbeing and resilience on a physical level; positive emotions, self-regulation, empathy and awareness of social dynamics; learning and innovation thanks to the implementation of flexible thinking, intuition and problem-solving processes. So breaking the stigma is possible, starting from personal wellbeing to sustain positive energy and fuel resilience.

About the Power of Empathetic and Authentic Leadership, Dr. Rima Ghose Chowdhury (EVP & Chief Human Resources Officers at Datamatics Global Services) stresses the importance of Leadership roles today. The virtual environment employees are working in, makes them more vulnerable due to a lack of balance between emotional and authenticity traits. Authenticity is the primary factor in effective leadership, regardless of the leadership style. Putting employees first as a strategic priority and hearing their voices to guide strategy; embracing agility to work more effectively in tumultuous time; including a multigenerational work-force: these are the key concepts within Dr. Rima’s motto “Empowering is to enable”. Through motivation and filling emotional support needs, the Empowering Teams Process leads to employees’ safety, esteem, and self-actualization. 

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. To know more about the FOW Future of Work Insights platform around the world, click here:

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The Wellbeing @ Work virtual Summit Middle East returns for its 5th annual event on 22-24 February 2021



The summit provides an innovative and experiential virtual learning opportunity for our audience of CEOs, benefit and reward business leaders and senior HR professionals. The information and knowledge gained from attending this event allow the opportunity to make strategic wellbeing and mental health decisions within an organization, supporting our mission to create more flourishing and thriving workplaces. Never before has the mental health and wellbeing of your employees been so important. The Wellbeing @ Work Summit includes keynote speeches, panel discussions, workshops, and fireside chats alongside unrivaled networking with leaders across the Middle East using our AI-enabled matchmaking platform. This is far more than a webinar! An engaging 3-day event providing you invaluable insight and tools to create thriving workplaces.

Key Reasons to Attend:

  • An engaging AI-enabled matchmaking platform to make invaluable connections & host virtual meetings up to 2 weeks before the three-day festival
  • Learn how multinational organizations are creating workplaces where employees thrive in the new world
  • Campfire panel discussions informing workplace change & mental health solutions
  • Middle East-based employer case studies providing the secrets to employee wellbeing success
  • International experts bringing best-practice from across the globe
  • Invaluable networking with business leaders from across the Middle East

The Wellbeing @ Work Summit delivers strategic direction, advice and inspiration from employers and experts from across the world to help you create a more compassionate corporate culture that delivers results. The design and implementation of a holistic wellbeing and mental health programme that delivers healthy outcomes and a more productive organization is paramount right now. 

In addition, the results of the extensive Middle East region-wide survey on wellbeing and mental fitness in organizations across the region made in partnership with Cognomie will be presented during the event.

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DECODING FUTURE HR: Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021



DECODING FUTURE HR: Today’s challenges are tomorrow’s trends and opportunities

Global 24 hour virtual event | 19 and 20 January 2021

The world in 2020 has changed to a ‘new normality’ but what’s that ‘new normality’ everybody talks about? Is it here to stay? How is it affecting us in our daily lives in the different versions of ourselves? As a customer, an entrepreneur, a parent, a friend…a worker…

Our job is a key part of our lives and we are indeed living through a fundamental transformation in the way we work. Automation and ‘thinking machines’ are replacing human tasks and jobs, and changing the skills that organisations are looking for in their people. These momentous changes raise huge organisational, talent and other HR challenges. It has become clear that few organisations are likely to revert to pre-pandemic practices even after a vaccine is found.

Decoding Future HR 2021 is bringing you the ideology of how today’s challenges are becoming tomorrow’s trends and opportunities resulting in HR excellence.

Why you should attend:

  • Learn about the trends and best practices shaping future HR
  • Get valuable insights from expert speakers
  • Share ideas and research to help your organisation reach its goals
  • Understand what do employees want in ‘New Normal’
  • Develop new vision for HRBP and Centre of Expertise
  • Identify, integrate and understand stakeholders to create an intentional employee experience
  • Approaches and elements to leadership development.

Some of our confirmed speakers:

  • Tshepo Yvonne Mosadi , Human Resources Director, The HEINEKEN Company
  • Sarah Tabet, Global HR Director/ D&I Leader | Author for “Inclusion Starts with U”, Schneider Electric
  • Wadah Al Turki, Country Talent Manager KSA and Bahrain, IKEA
  • Lesha Chakraborti, Head of HR – EMEA, Travelex
  • Shaban Butt, Director HR & Administration, The Coca-Cola Company
  • Sajjad Parmar, Head of Rewards – APAC, eBay
  • Katey Howard, VP, Talent Management AMESA, Pepsico
  • Chen Fong Tuan, HR & General Affairs Director, Samsung Electronics
  • Prerna Ajmera, Senior Director, HR Experiences and Solutions, Microsoft
  • Václav Koranda, Vice President Human Resources / Member of the Board of Directors, T-System
  • Amy MacGregor, VP Employee Experience, Global HR, Manulife
  • Adwait Kashalkar, People Analytics and Programme Management Leader, APAC, Mastercard

Click here to view all speakers:

At Wisdom we remain positive that ‘normality’ will soon return and that we will be able to physically meet together once again as speakers, delegates and sponsors at our beautiful venues around the world. But meanwhile, life continues and we need to keep in touch and learn from each other. This 24-hour virtual event will be of great benefit and value to your businesses and its continued development during these challenging times. While this virtual event comes at a lesser cost, it provides for now a wider reach into an international audience, with flexibility of access to content as well as allowing you to have the same opportunity as at a face-to-face session for one-to-one business meetings. We look forward to welcoming you in January.

Date and time: 19-20 January 2021Where: Virtual engaging platform
  Further information and bookings:        Contact:   #WSDM_BI
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