In my humble opinion, it is a time for entrepreneurship, starting SMEs, creating jobs and output.
For example, we could decide to volunteer to clean the streets and paint the walls (a scenario where we don’t go to work and nobody makes money). Or we could decide to start a small company that does that, go to our own jobs, make money, hire previously unemployed young men and women, pay them salaries to do the work. In both cases the streets get cleaned, yet in the second scenario, their wages now create a purchasing power, consumption, spending, their spending becomes income to other people and the cycle continues.
Accordingly, I’m tossing together some suggested business ideas for those of you with time, energy or liquidity:
- Home-based mini-agri-businesses. I realise that home economics is not the first thing that comes to mind when searching for a start-up idea. Yet the current situation is the follows: Egypt’s soil produces some of the best fruits and vegetables. Given recent political changes annual exports of agricultural produce took a dive due to obstacles in distribution and logistics. These volumes of produce are now in the market risking perish as many of the larger hypermarkets have been vandalised and hence are not procuring new merchandise; and the average Egyptian consumer has reduced his spending in anticipation of the future and due to challenges to liquidity.
- The suggestion is for housewives, those still looking for jobs or even students to start small home based manufacturing facilities. Purchase the fresh fruits and vegetables from the market (start by buying from the little guy, his cash flow cycle is a lot more unforgiving) at ridiculously cheap prices these days. Then start making gourmet jams, preserves, pickles, juices, frozen cut and cleaned vegetables or pre-washed pre-cut salads. This way the produce lasts longer in its refrigerated processed state. These items can be branded and sold through a facebook group to end-users or to retailers.
- Go into the security business. Citizens these days have a heightened sense of their need for security. Utilise the network of dependable unemployed young men you met during “elligan elsha3beya” to start a security men provision service. Or even better, provide a more capital-intensive solution, hire individuals to build security systems and market them. These would be partially software code and partially metal grills/cages/bars that can be used to lock down stores in the case the glass is broken to hold the merchandise and the robbers in while the cops are alerted to the emergency.
- Clean. As outlined in the example I started the blogpost with, contemplate starting a cleaning service, this does not have to be exclusive to the streets and can extend to providing painting and reconstruction services to those who have suffered damages during the events of the past 10 days.
- Manufacture and sell revolution memorabilia. We are all feeling very patriotic these days, someone should capitalise on that. There is a great opportunity for flag and Egyptian themed items, this includes but is not limited to clothing, car accessories, flags, key-chains and other trinkets, prints of photos from Tahrir. Most importantly, don’t design the product and have some factory in China manufacture it for you, manufacture here, hire Egyptian workers, use Egyptian factories and Egyptian raw materials.
- Venture capital. For the slightly larger players amongst you, this is as good a time as ever, start a private equity / venture capital firm and offer funding to start-ups and SMEs with business ideas that have great potential but whom are lacking guidance and funding.
I realise that the post to some of you is redundant and to others the ideas would seem unusual. Yet kindly remember that these are merely suggestions, inspired by what is happening and which aim to serve the target of creating business and generating growth and employment in the Egyptian economy.
Good luck to you all and God bless.