There is a big number of innovators in the Arab World with creative ideas for new initiatives and products but there is no mechanism for financial support and suitable marketing strategies. One of the main difficulties facing innovation in the Arab world is the absences of a platform through which innovators can post their challenges, seek the support from problem solvers, and access financial support.
Towards a solution
In 2012, Istebdaa’Inc (a nonprofit organization) launched Yomken. Yomken is an open-innovation and crowd funding platform for the Arab World that tries to bridge the gap between the challenges faced by micro-and small entrepreneurs (the informal MSEs) working mainly in low-tech and informal manufacturing industries and the innovative ideas and skills of potential problem solvers (graduation projects, innovative solutions from recently graduated engineers, designers, researchers who are looking for a job, and the Arab diaspora).The main objective of such a model is to provide decent employment for the youth in the Arab region while tapping into their entrepreneurship spirit.
Yomken offers two main services, which are:
1) An open-innovation platform for low-tech MSEs, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government agencies to post the challenges they face either publicly or anonymously on the platform in which they will be linked or matched to creative solutions using the “wisdom of the crowd”. These challenges range from product development, production process optimization, usage of alternative raw material etc.
2) A market place, where innovators and creative people can publish their innovative projects and patents, market researches to with the aim to link with financial vehicles to get t financial support or with other collaborators who can assist in further developing their projects.
Yomken also offers other services which include the following:
- Innovation and Management Innovation: Yomken through its diversified networks has the capacity to link the challenges it identifies through its online community with academic institutions and other innovation circles to provide support in the following:
- Consulting on innovation management and policy
- Monitoring and evaluation of projects
- Economic analysis at the micro, medium and macro levels
- Technology foresight for business planning
- Workshops to identify linkages and possible gaps
- Data analysis using social network analysis tools, econometrics and other advanced tools
- Capacity-building services: It provides training manuals on areas related to e-marketing, product life cycle, and project management
- Open-Innovation services- that include design, management of innovation competitions in product design ideas
The key achievement of Yomken as far as now:
- 78 Projects and innovations have been funded to solve specific challenges in the society.
- Five different training modules have been established by Yomken for students, innovators, potential entrepreneurs, NGOs, and Civil servants.
Supported by: Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, the Women Business Development Center, Assuit University, PWC, Nahdet El Mahrousa, Misr El Khier/ GESR, Sadko, Redec, INJAZ Egypt, Catalysis, ARC, Al Maqarr, V-vvorx, Egycom, Schaduf, NEP, GIZ, Violet, Acacias For All and Federation of Economic Development
Implemented by: Istebdaa’Inc
Project Status: Ongoing
Project Period: 2012-ongoing
URL to the Practice: www.yomken.com
Name: Nelly Bahgat
Title: South-South Development Academy Egypt