Giving Egyptian youth the confidence to follow their dreams

By Ghada Khalifa, Citizenship manager of Microsoft Egypt

“Sometimes, all we need to do is believe in ourselves.”

This is the message that describes the journey of three youth members of Microsoft Citizenship Egypt’s volunteer programs. Like many youth in Egypt, Mohamed El Sawy, Shaimaa Gouda and Mohamed Sharaf have faced great societal and economic challenges with limited resources to build and achieve their dreams.

Microsoft Egypt’s initiatives, Masr Ta3mal and Aspire Woman, aim to provide opportunities for Egyptian youth to gain the self-confidence and skills necessary to overcome these barriers.

 “I want to be a pioneer in the renewable energy industry in Egypt”
Mohamed El Sawy is a graduate from South Valley University and a member of Microsoft Egypt’s volunteer program in Masr Ta3mal. Mohamed studied commerce, but faced many challenges when trying to start a business in Aswan, a region in Egypt where work is often scarce.

Joining Microsoft’s volunteer program, Mohamed took on leadership opportunities that developed his confidence and entrepreneurial skills, and furthered his dreams for himself and his community. With the skills gained through Masr Ta3mal, Mohamed completed market and field research for his business idea in renewable energy, and set plans to achieve his goals. Despite the economic challenges, Mohamed is now creating solar energy water pumps and over 15 more products, in pursuit of becoming the top renewable energy company in Aswan.

 “At some point I decided to turn my way of thinking from seeing it as a problem to seeing it as an opportunity”
Shaimaa Ghouda is a graduate from Ain Shams University and a previous member of Microsoft’s Aspire Woman program – an initiative aimed at empowering young women through leadership, business and technical skills development.

Egypt faces one of the widest gender gaps in the world, with women making up less than one third of the labour force. Shaimaa faced many societal and family challenges when planning for her future career, but with the mentorship and leadership activities in Microsoft’s Aspire Woman program, she gained the confidence to pursue a career in fashion – creating a business opportunity from a problem she faced on a daily basis.

“It was difficult to find trendy or fashionable clothes because I was overweight. After realising the opportunity and structuring the business plan, Shaimaa used the Aspire Woman Mentorship program as a platform to design her own line of clothing for plus-sized women and successfully operate her own show room.

Inspired to do more for the community
 Mohamed Sharaf is a computer science graduate from Cherouk Academy. Through his volunteer work in Masr Ta3mal, Mohamed was inspired to do more for his community and has successfully created the first Arab social network, Insaniah, where volunteers in Egypt can link up to NGOs. His company, Nas Hope (People’s Hope), has recently signed an agreement with the Ministry of Social Solidarity.

These three Egyptian youths all had the will and ability to succeed from the outset–they just needed a helping hand and the confidence to believe in themselves. At Microsoft Citizenship Egypt, we are committed to empowering youth through our volunteer, mentorship and leadership programs and inspiring more youths to pursue their dreams.

For more information on our initiatives, visit Masr Ta3mal and Aspire Woman.