The UN's SDGs, entrepreneurship & development in Egypt

Mona Mowafi

In August, RISE Egypt turned 2 years old. Birthdays are a wonderful time to reflect, and over the past few months, we have been reflecting deeply on where we are and where we are headed. Members of the staff, the board of directors, the RISE fellows, and our global network have all contributed invaluable insights as we stop to assess where we are now, compare it to where we hoped to be, and renew our energy to power on toward the future.

We have realized that one of our key value propositions is that we occupy a space in between many different worlds: In between the private sector and public policy; in between a traditional accelerator, an academic fellowship program, and a global development initiative; in between the Egyptian diaspora and their home country; in between research and action, in between what’s global and what’s local. We revel in this in-between because we believe at these intersections reside the promise of creative solutions and new possibilities. We believe it is our role as an organization to bring varied actors together and inspire action toward common goals.

Of goals, there are many. From September 25-27, 2015, the United Nations convened in New York to pass a new set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with targets to be achieved by all countries by 2030. This framework, built on the foundation of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that came before it (with partial, though significant, progress made from 2000-2015), is a tool to focus stakeholders and countries toward a common vision. On the national front, Egypt’s Minister of Planning, Dr. Ashraf Al-Araby, has outlined a national development plan that includes pillars that intersect with the SDGs, which he articulated at the March 2015 Egypt Economic Development Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh (start at 33:50, run time 18 mins)

What we know in the global development community, however, is that these goals will not be achieved through high-level meetings of heads of state. While political will is crucial to catalyze the process, it is the operators on the ground - the entrepreneurs, the civil society organizations, the philanthropists and the investors - who will contribute the most time and treasure to make these dreams a reality. It is only in collaboration and partnership with its citizens will Egypt be able to create the jobs, reduce the poverty, and make the development impact it seeks. 

At RISE Egypt, we believe it is our responsibility and our honor to support this process, and we thank you for your participation with us as we tackle these critical challenges in the months and years ahead.