EGYPT – Banque Misr, a financial service provider, has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), with Microsoft Egypt to launch the first open innovation program in the Egyptian market, enabling a spurt in fintech startup growth.
The collaboration between the two parties aims to enable startups to contribute to digital transformation efforts that are driven by multi-disciplined digital technologies, while enhancing the fintech and entrepreneurial capabilities of these companies.
This is in addition to supporting the business environment by establishing joint fintech innovation centers and developing financial and digital services and solutions to facilitate customer transactions.
“Through Banque Misr’s entrepreneurial momentum, empowered by the massive digital transformation program over the past 3 years, we are proud to announce the launch of Banque Misr’s open innovation program with a vision that allows for larger and more profound integration between the Bank and start-ups.
“I believe that collaborating with fintech, in a spirit of open innovation, is a powerful driver of digital transformation and can stimulate new ways of working. I am firmly convinced that banks that embrace this collaboration will be able to adapt faster, offer better products and services to their clients, and thus improve their customer journey as well as gaining a competitive edge.”
According to the agreement, startups will leverage Microsoft’s partners network where Banque Misr can target the best start-ups according to agreed criteria both from the local and other emerging markets and based on Microsoft’s outreach.
“I believe that collaborating with fintech, in a spirit of open innovation, is a powerful driver of digital transformation and can stimulate new ways of working.”Akef El-Maghraby – Vice Chairman, Banque Misr
Microsoft supports the program through attracting a partner startup accelerator from South Africa, Grindstone, who is part of the Microsoft for Startups programme; “Microsoft for Startups”, a program with a proven track record in markets with same geo-economics landscape, which will lay grounds for transfer of knowledge and collaboration between African markets.
Microsoft will support the selected start-ups to scale and grow through onboarding solutions to Azure Market Place that has more than four million active users, by capitalizing on Microsoft Partner Network for startups and providing support through various internal Microsoft programs.
“Startups play a vital role in driving a country’s digital economy. They have the ability to be creative and innovative, bringing new ideas to life. This is very important in a country like Egypt, because with an increase in population and access to technology, it represents a vast pool of untapped potential,” Ahmed Abdellatif, Regional Manager at Microsoft Egypt and Middle East said.
“This will enable us to provide more support to entrepreneurs in the field of financial technology and we will be able to provide them with the latest technological tools that startups need in order to scale and succeed in the digital economy.”
Egypt is one of the four largest startup countries in the African continent, along with Nigeria, Kenya and South Africa. Egypt ranked first in the number of investment deals in emerging technology companies, reaching 86 deals in 2020, according to an IDSC report.
The volume of investment deals in Egypt increased by about one third in 2020 compared to 2019 and their number also increased by 83% Egypt also ranked third in total stock deals, with investments amounting to US$269 million.
MENA countries have increased their focus on entrepreneurship and start-ups in an attempt to diversify economies and drive growth and innovation. As a start-up hub in the region, Egypt works to support entrepreneurs and encourage start-ups to launch and grow their businesses in a supportive environment.