The university administration manages the incubator with funding from the government and the private sector, but unlike most nonacademic organizations, it does not own a stake in the companies it helps set up.
The incubator headed by Zaki offers a training program that lasts from four to six months in skills such as business basics, marketing support, market research, and incubator financing management. Since its establishment in 2016, it has established 46 startup companies and created about 133 jobs.
Zaki, a lecturer at the university, said that after the incubation period, participants present their ideas to a jury of investors and experts. The best projects receive financial support and specialized advisory services.
A New Emphasis at Cairo University
Heba El Gendy, 33, received about 10,000 Egyptian pounds about a year ago from the Cairo University incubator for her company, which specializes in providing general insurance, life insurance and saving services to its clients, through an electronic platform.
“I was excited about the idea of the project through my work in the insurance field. I was only looking for someone to support my choice and support me in implementing it,” she said in a phone interview.
Her company, which aspires to be a pioneer in providing insurance services to middle-class individuals and workers, currently employs four people.
Universities which have begun to teach entrepreneurship as a specialized curriculum include Cairo University, the American University in Cairo, the British University in Egypt, the German University in Cairo, Nile University, and the Knowledge Hub Universities.
“The application of the entrepreneurship curriculum comes within the framework of the university’s endeavor to shift to the model of third-generation universities,” Mohamed Othman Elkhosht, president of Cairo University, said in a press statement in 2019 when the new course was announced. He added that the aim was to develop students’ scientific and research capabilities and said the curriculum would be available online, and students would be tested orally.
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Cairo University has also started to train some 35 faculty members and assistants at its Faculty and Leadership Development Center on the entrepreneurship curriculum.
Criticism of Curricula as Too Theoretical
However, some students at public universities complain that entrepreneurship curricula are too theoretical and do not offer practical training.
“The curriculum relies on memorization with the absence of an adequate training aspect,” Youssef Abdel Aal, a student at the Faculty of Commerce at Ain Shams University, said in a phone interview. “The admission requirements are very difficult and unclear.”