Khaled Bishara - an Egyptian success story

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Khaled Bishara - an Egyptian success story

Post by newcastle »

An interesting article on one of Egypt's leading entrepreneurs.

Khaled Bichara is practically a force of nature in the Egyptian startup realm. It was 25 years ago that Bichara founded LINKdotNET, Egypt’s first internet service provider. The fearless go-getter was in his early twenties and entrepreneurship was not yet the booming trend it is today. Despite most people failing to understand his compulsion to start his own business - let alone one focused on the internet, a new and seemingly useless invention at the time - the risk he took shaped the trajectory of his career forever. Since the massive success of LINKdotNET, he’s led a number of big-time companies including Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, Wind Telecom, and currently heads the major telecommunications-focused investment group, Accelero Capital, as well as entrepreneurship support network Endeavor. ... -My-Countr

Trying to equate his outlook for young Egyptians with my own thoughts on the subject wasn't easy.

I'm not sure if Khaled is part of the Coptic community....probably. He was roughed up by the police during the Tahrir Square events...despite their knowing that he was a prominent businessman. Post the revolution, he, like Sawiris, has kept relatively quiet about the turn of politics.

Khaled must be quite rich now. Having Naguib Sawiris as one's mentor is never a bad thing. Not mentioned in the article is his role as CEO of Orascom Development Holding AG....the hotels, resorts, etc conglomerate (El Gouna etc) for which he trousered SFr 1 million in salary last year.

I wish he could do something about the bloody awful internet services in Egypt. Perhaps that's not his pigeon.

Interesting that he recommends entrepreneurship as opposed to politics as the way forward for Egypt's youth. Sawiris seems to be moving from the former to the latter....having made more money than he could spend in several lifetimes.

How young talented Egyptian entrepreneurs will fare with the deadweight of political old fogies and the ever-present military interests remains to be seen.

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Re: Khaled Bishara - an Egyptian success story

Post by Hafiz »

One wants to be positive - but.

He worked for Orascom and then Wind (Sawiris vehicle for moving his money overseas). He must know a bit about the Russian co-investors and the North Korean 'exploits' of his employer in setting up the first and only mobile phone system in that great democracy.

On a sad note, and with the possible exception of what is happening in Kenya, the whole continent seems to lack tech innovation achievements and this shows up in the copyright applications and related legal protections for ideas. Its few Nobel and Fields prize winners got out as soon as they could walk. The research articles submitted from African universities to refereed journals is greatly less than their share of world population. The universities are appalling which is why rich Egyptians invariably study overseas - and often don't come back.

In the case of the S. family all young members, I think, are permanently overseas (and US citizens - like their father) so its only their junior former employee who thinks the local prospects are good - if indeed he actually resides in Egypt. His boss decided otherwise as did his boss's children.

Newcastle - as I best understand the S. activities, the former telecoms brother now has almost all/all his assets overseas and operates quite separately from the parts of the family that run the resorts and constructions businesses. It is possible that their US investments, where they are a contractor to the military, might be jointly run. But that is another story. This chaps former boss has not dared step inside Egypt for many years - where his relatives are, I'm less clear. They are not 'popular' at the moment.

The same is also true of Russia and fair bits of Eastern Europe.

A common thread is that each has a rote-learnt education system, a cultural dislike for debate/dissent, low approval of individuality/creativity, a 'concern' about change and all that goes with this. All of them under invest in education.

Take an example of a contrast. India is far from rich, its third world, chaotic and not lacking corruption but has a well established and thriving technology industry - which also includes a lot of service industries attached to technology and major multinational tech companies investing in it. It also has a well developed medicines industry - which is emerging from just manufacturing low profit generics. It might be a mess of a country (but I don't think so) but it knows where the jobs of the future are and has spent decades developing them. The Middle East seems generations behind. The contrast couldn't be clearer. No multinational tech company is other than a trivial investor in Africa - not even in call-centers.

Meanwhile high tech industries in Israel explode in growth.

If the future is to be ideas and technology then the future for Africa doesn't look too good. Even rich South Africa, now that it has 'returned' to its cultural traditions, shows poor performance in the thinking/ideas/innovation area. The exception seems Kenya - but its early days for them.

In the case of Egypt its banking system has only one obsession - besides loaning to the government - and that is real estate. Finding someone to loan you a dollar for a world class idea would be hard. Its venture banking system/investment banking seems only interested in areas where political friendships are useful. If you have a good idea but can't get any money you go elsewhere.

In any event if your local education system is no good then your jobs future isn't going to be in technology - whatever the political/military environment.
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