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Published on February 19th, 2020

Introducing the Tiye Angels: The First Women’s Angel Investment Network in Egypt

In December 2019, the Tiye Angel Investment Network made its formal debut. The network was launched by the USAID Strengthening Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Development (SEED) project (implemented by DT Global) in partnership with Malaikah, the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), and Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC). Tiye Angels is the first angel investment network in Egypt specifically focused on creating more women investors, who will then invest in and mentor more women entrepreneurs and help women-led startups be investment-ready. Participants in the Angel Network will have the chance to receive mentoring and training, and they will help usher in the next generation of women-owned businesses in Egypt and across the Middle East.

Starting in 2016, the SEED project has supported the development of entrepreneurs and micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) to increase employment opportunities and income. SEED’s staff and network of partners throughout Egypt support the development of the private sector from the business concept phase, to the creation and registration of companies. SEED and its partners continue supporting MSMEs to the point where they become profitable and are projecting long-term growth. To ensure sustainability of these businesses, SEED’s team works diligently to build the capacity of local partner institutions and leverage private sector funds to amplify their efforts.

SEED created the Women’s Entrepreneurship Network (WEN) to better serve women in starting and managing their businesses. WEN was created in partnership with women-focused organizations across the county, such as the National council for Women (NCW), Alexandria Businesswomen’s Association (ABWA), and the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI). Representatives from leading women-focused organizations make up the steering committee – all working towards achieving the core objective of increasing access to finance for women entrepreneurs and MSMEs and building their business acumen. Slowly, a gap in the market was identified: a lack of female investors, as well the need for additional assistance for female-led startups to be investment-ready. The idea of the Tiye Angels Investment Network first began to take shape.

Around the world, angel investment is a significant source of capital for startup and early stage businesses, providing both an influx of finance as well as vital business connections and expertise. In the past 15 years, the number of women investors has risen alongside the number of investments of women-let startups. In 2004 only 3% (1,500 companies) of the 48,000 companies that received angel funding were led by women. In 2016, 22% or 14,000 women led companies received capital, which accelerated their early stage start-ups. The key barriers for women angel investors have been the lack of understanding of the core process of angel investing as well as lack of knowledge of how to find and invest in quality deals. The hope for the Tiye Angels is to address these concerns in Cairo and throughout Egypt.

The Tiye Angels Network launch event took place during the RiseUp Summit at the American University of Cairo (AUC) on Saturday, December 7, 2019. The event took place on the Capitol Stage, a large, centrally located venue on the AUC Campus surrounded by a sea of bean bag chairs and flanked with beautiful columns serving to highlight the setting sun as the launch event began. Attended by several hundred entrepreneurs, business and financial service providers, mentors, and other stakeholders, the launch proved popular even amidst a full college campus full of competing events, engaging panels, and networking opportunities.

Kicking off the event and officially launching the Tiye Angels was Michael Trueblood, USAID/Egypt’s Deputy Office Director of the Economic Growth Office. As Michael shared with the audience, “studies have shown a clear link between more funding for women entrepreneurs and the increase in the number of women angel investors. USAID SEED and TIEC have seen first-hand the need for more investments in startups, particularly women-led startups. Through our work we have met several women who are interested in giving back and becoming angel investors. We are hopeful that the Women Angel Investors Network will be a dynamic force in supporting and investing in women entrepreneurs in Egypt.” The Network aims to increase the formation and expansion of women-owned businesses and women-owned MSMEs in Egypt. Women constitute nearly half of the population in Egypt, yet their share of business ownership does not exceed 15%. He continued, sharing his view that “maintaining an active, visible presence in the investing space is not only important for current women entrepreneurs and women looking to become angel investors, but it also provides a valuable lesson for young women who haven’t even started their careers. Because those women will begin to see more and more role models for starting future businesses or becoming the next generation of Angel Investors.”

Following Mr. Trueblood's remarks, a panel discussion entitled “The Power of Women Investors: Creating the Future” explored the importance of angel investment. The discussion was moderated by Neveen El-Tahri, Chairperson and Managing Director at 138 Pyramids. Ms. El-Tahri is currently the chairperson of Delta Shield for Investment, an organization founded after the 2011 revolution to focus on youth, entrepreneurship, and SME activities that enhance growth and employment. With Ms. El-Tahri at the lead, Delta Shield spun off its incubator and accelerator management to establish “138 Pyramids,” targeting Egyptian start-ups and early stage companies. Ms. El-Tahri has won various awards for her contribution to the Egyptian investment environment and internationally for her economic empowerment of women. Panelists included Dalia Mohamed Ibrahim, CEO of Nahdet Misr Publishing House and founder and CEO of EdVentures. Ms. Ibrahim has more than 25 years of professional experience in publishing, digital solutions, education and entrepreneurship. She volunteers to serve as a mentor and judge of start-up projects of young entrepreneurs throughout Egypt and the region, and she has been a mentor for WEN since 2019. The panel was rounded out by Heather Henyon, Founding General Partner at Mindshift Capital and a Founding Partner of Athena CFO, an outsourced CFO and finance advisory firm for start-ups, SMEs, growth companies, and investors. In 2013, Ms. Henyon started the Women’s Angel Investor Network (WAIN) in Dubai, the first women’s angel investment group in the Middle East, and subsequently served as Interim CFO for Little Thinking Minds, one of WAIN’s first investments. 

While still in its startup phase, the Tiye Angels Network is intended to train and educate more women to become angel investors, to create a community of women that share their capital, to share resources and contacts to help women-led startups/entrepreneurs identify alternative methods of financing, and to prepare women-led startups to be investment-ready. The hope is that the Tiye Angels Network will empower more women to become investors by providing them with the knowledge and tools to invest in startups.

“We are confident that Women Angel Investors Network, the Tiye Angels, will be a dynamic force in supporting and investing in Women Entrepreneurs in Egypt,” noted Michael Trueblood during the launch event.

The Tiye Angels derive their name from an ancient Egyptian queen who was a strong, influential figure from Upper Egypt. DT Global looks forward to supporting a new generation of strong, influential women-led business leaders in Egypt and beyond.