Egyptian Expatriates help Egypt's emerging industries
By Noha Hatata
Approximately a million Egyptians residing outside of Egypt are successful and accomplished scientists and experts in various fields. While many of these expatriates aspire to participate in Egypt's development, until recently they could not find the appropriate channels to do so.
This is where Nahdet El Mahrousa (NM) stepped in. NM is a nongovernmental organization launched in 2002 by a group of young, well educated professionals who believe Egypt deserves a better future and that the young generation is able to create genuine change. This youth-led NGO seeks to make a positive impact on Egypt's cultural, economic and social development through engaging Egyptian youth in public service and decision-making. NM achieves this through the incubation of innovative development project ideas, cultivating them until they become independent and successful national models. NM also hosts a lively intellectual forum, both virtual and through a lecture series, where members can share resources, ideas, information, and opinions about development practices. NM is also involved in several partnerships aiming at informing public debate and policy in Egypt.
Under its currently incubated Economic Development projects, NM has launched an innovative program, " Egyptian Expatriates for Development (EED) ", initially known as the United Nations "Transfer of knowledge through Expatriate Nationals (TOKTEN) in Egypt". The program aims at reversing Egypt's brain drain by mobilizing the Egyptian professional diaspora on a voluntary basis to effectively transfer their knowledge and expertise in different sectors. Through its wide reach in the Egyptian-American and other diaspora communities, NM initiated contacts with Egyptian expatriates and matched their qualifications with the needs of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Egypt. EED linked Egyptian expatriates with local emerging industries by inviting top-notch experts from the United States and Canada to conduct training workshops for SMEs.
The program's pilot phase focused on the information technology (IT) field, this being a strategic and booming sector with a high potential for growth. Launched last November, the program has already shown positive results. The topics covered in the expatriate training sessions have served to bridge a knowledge gap and expand the SMEs vision and awareness of the global market.
The first of nine workshops was delivered by Dr. Hani El Gebaly from Intel Corporation in Oregon who tackled several important topics, namely " Business Experience of India in Software Development Outsourcing, Best Practices and Lessons Learnt " , " How to Establish and Off-shore Site " , and " Technology Trends on Intel Client Platform " . Following this first success, the program organized a series of eight unique and highly successful "transfer of knowledge" events hosted by NCR -- the main sponsor of the pilot phase.
The training sessions were highly interactive, including group exercises intended to encourage exchange of experiences and team work as well as improve the skills of participants. It was also an enjoyable experience for participants and a great networking opportunity.
Dr. Mohamed Zahran , Assistant Professor in the Electrical Engineering department at City University of New York, who has extensive research experience on several aspects of computer architecture, including micro-architecture and memory system design, introduced the " evolution of software/hardware relationship ", which was a topic not readily available to SMEs in Egypt.
Tamer Farag, Partner Technical Specialist, Microsoft Canada -- another expatriate who volunteered his expertise, summed up the purpose of these training workshops with the following quote from Jack Welsh, former Chairman of General Electric: "An organization's ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage"
The workshops created quite a stir among IT companies as SMEs, impressed by the quality of knowledge transferred, rushed to register for the training events. Though large corporations were just as eager to grasp this opportunity, priority was given to SMEs who lacked the resources to access the knowledge and technical assistance necessary to support their business growth. SMEs were also eager to interact with Egyptian expatriates and establish linkages for future potential cooperation/ opportunities.
The benefit derived from these unique workshops goes far beyond any traditional certification or training course and is incomparable to any "out of the book" training. It provides the international experience of an Egyptian, coupled with his own personal understanding of the global market, in addition to his knowledge of local culture. No standard training course could provide such a holistic package of international and local expertise at the same time.
The nine expatriates who participated in this pilot program shared a common dream and sense of responsibility towards Egypt's development, reiterating that "this was the least they could do for their beloved country and that they were thrilled when they first heard about EED volunteer opportunity". They were all anxious to promote the program upon their return and looked forward to delivering future training with EED.
In recognition for the valuable contribution of Egyptian expatriates, the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV ) has agreed to grant Egyptian Expatriates who participated in the pilot with the "United Nations Volunteer Associate (UNVA )" status for their significant contribution.
Noha Ahmed Hatata serves as the "focal point" at Egyptian Expatriates for Development
For more information pls. visit Nahdet el Mahrousa website: www.nahdetmasr.org