It’s a great time to highlight a couple of regions that may not immediately pop into your head when you think of entrepreneurial ecosystems. The truth is, some surprising cities and countries around the world have made remarkable steps in evolving their startup communities and how they serve entrepreneurs.
Flat6Labs, a Cairo-based accelerator and the CEO Ramez Mohamed have played a key role in laying the groundwork for what is quickly becoming a thriving startup ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa, a region that has experienced a great deal of political and economic instability in recent years. Since getting started in Cairo in 2011, Flat6Labs has opened new offices throughout the region in Jeddah, Abu Dhabi, and most recently, Beirut.
In Egypt, now synonymous with the Arab Spring, there’s a tech revolution underway as well. As the Wall Street Journal reported last year, just a block from Cairo’s Tahrir Square – home to the massive protests witnessed around the world in 2011 – there’s a new 270,000 square foot technology and innovation park called the GrEEK Campus. Ahmed El-Alfi, the founder of Flat6Labs, spearheaded the effort rooted in a desire to bring tech entrepreneurs closer together in the heart of Cairo. As El-Alfi puts it, “the heart of technology is cool conversations,” and those conversations always benefit from proximity.
Hong Kong, China
A fifteen-hour flight away from Cairo is Nest, a full service early-stage venture capital firm in Hong Kong. Nest partners with leading corporations to run a series of mentor-driven accelerators, now operating in London, Paris, New York, Los Angeles, Singapore, Bangkok, and Nairobi.
In Nairobi, which Nest describes as “an incredible and extremely vibrant startup community,” Nest hosts a bi-monthly “What’s Next” speaker series for key players in the city, with topics ranging from fashion to health tech. Accelerators like Nest may be new to Nairobi, but we have a feeling big things are on the horizon in this startup ecosystem.
These stories from Flat6Labs and Nest are just the tip of the iceberg. Tech hubs are popping up in every corner of the globe and the geographic boundaries of entrepreneurship are breaking. Initiatives like Global Entrepreneurship Week, celebrated last month, is helping spread awareness and promote the ideals of entrepreneurship.
Let this inspire other entrepreneurs and community leaders to shape new startup ecosystems all around the world!