Egypt’s ‘Open Factory’ Project Helps Trainees Launch Textile Design Enterprises
Egypt’s “Open Factory” project is about to run its fourth training course giving students and graduates theoretical and practical knowledge of the textile industry. The project is an Egyptian government initiative funded by the European Union.
The project manager, Eman Ali Tharwat, told Al-Fanar Media the training course would last three months and include people already involved in this industry, as well as students and graduates.
Participants first get an introduction to professional methods for designing textile and leather products, then go through a “business incubator” stage in which they learn how to manage their own projects financially. After completing the introductory and incubator stages, the trainees can compete for European Union grants of 6,000 or 9,000 euros to start their own enterprises.
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The project was meant to start two years ago but it was delayed by the Covid-19 pandemic. Its aims are to develop the textile and leather industries, raise national income and reduce Egypt’s unemployment rate.
The Faculty of Computers and Artificial Intelligence at Cairo University is implementing the project in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Trade and Industry, the National Research Institute, and the textile and leather industry chambers of the Federation of Egyptian Industries.
One Student’s Experience
Alaa Ibrahim, who recently graduated from the Faculty of Applied Arts at Helwan University, participated in the project late last year. The programme “changed my thoughts and my life and opened up a new path that I had not planned,” she said—a path that has involved her establishing her own project as an entrepreneur.
Participants first get an introduction to professional methods for designing textile and leather products, then go through a “business incubator” stage to learn how to manage projects financially. After that, they can compete for grants to start their own enterprises.
She told Al-Fanar Media that the training changed many concepts she had had about designing for textile industries and helped her understand how to manage a private project. It also gave her hope of winning a grant so she could establish her own textile design enterprise.
Tharwat, the project manager and a former dean of the Faculty of Computers and Artificial Intelligence at Cairo University, said the training gave students and workers in the textile and leather industries important skills which qualify them for the labour market through knowledge of competition standards and how to manage individual projects.
The training includes the basics of design, explains technical skills in practice, and teaches administrative and accounting matters through a business model so trainees can manage their own projects.
Tharwat said the project had trained 60 participants in each of its three courses. She added that the courses were completely free because of the European Union funding.
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The trainees have to be between 20 and 40 years old, have some experience in the textile and leather industries, be proficient in English and computer skills, and be able to use professional design software.
Connecting Students to the Labour Market
Amira El-Shafei, dean of the Textile and Research Institute at the National Research Centre, said the project’s main objectives were to improve students’ skills and connect them to the labour market.
“We are working to train participants how to carry out an independent project technically and administratively,” she said. “Through the business incubator, the trainees learn how to manage their resources, set up a website for marketing their products, and become acquainted with market competition standards.”
The programme “changed my thoughts and my life and opened up a new path that I had not planned.”Alaa Ibrahim, A trainee who established her own textile design enterprise
Another of the organisers, Rania El-Newashy , acting head of the Clothing and Knitting Industries Research Department at the National Research Centre, pointed out that the project linked trainees with companies in a practical way through product design. This consolidates the idea of networking between the academic sector and the labour market, she said.
Fatima Nasr El-Din, an engineer and a project coordinator at the Chamber of Textile Industries, told Al-Fanar Media that the groups the training was targeting were students and graduates, to try to connect them to the labour market, and entrepreneurs already working in the textile and leather industries who want to develop their business.
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People who want to apply for the training can register by completing a questionnaire on the project’s website.
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