Thinking of starting up a business in Egypt? Now is a good time, as the upheaval in Egypt’s political structure hasn’t had the knock-on effect on Egypt’s business environment first expected.
The Egyptian Government has gradually reformed the economy by taking steps towards privatization and deregulation. Meanwhile, the Central Bank of Egypt supervises all the local and foreign banks in Egypt. As a result, Egypt has weathered the international economic turmoil much easier than other countries.
This is reassuring for business banking in Egypt. Business can perform their business transactions certain that the financial sector is taking genuine care to look after their assets and interests.
However, if you’re planning to set up a business in Egypt, do some considerable planning. According to the World Bank, it takes 218 days to obtain a construction permit, 72 days to register a property and, on average, 54 days to get connected to the electricity grid.
In spite of this, going through the bureaucratic channels may be worth it. The Egyptian economy is packed with business opportunities.
Anyone looking to set up in the financial sector has a wealth of opportunities at their feet, and the construction, ICT, education and training, gas and oil, environment and water, and retail sectors all host a broad scope of business opportunities. There are several reasons why this is the case for each sector:
• Financial sector— lack of education about financial products and services such as banking and insurance
• Oil and gas — high unemployment and a large population of under 25 year olds
• Education — a change in focus in the education system from studying to pass exams to acquiring the skills for employment
• Environment and water — keenness of the Egyptian government to provide water and sanitation to 217 Egyptian cities and 4 600 villages
• ICT — growing demand and rapid annual growth of the sector
• Retail — increasing consumer interest in brands and value-added products and services, and low penetration of the market.
Another reason to set up a business in Egypt has been the creation of the free zones. In these zones you won’t be liable to tax on projects or dividends and capital assets are exempt from customs duties. You can also choose freely how you register your business as a legal entity, and have free choice of investment activity.
Once you’ve set up your business, you’ll probably have to meet clients and other tradespeople. Like any good businessperson, you must respect your location’s business culture. Here are some tips that will keep you on the right side of your (potential) client:
• Let them offer their hand first to shake hands
• Wear formal dress, Men should keep visible jewellery out of view
• Greet your client in Arabic
And here are some actions that would put their back up:
• Rushing them — Egyptians take longer to do business
• Asking lots of questions about your client’s family
• Crossing your legs or baring the sole of your shoe — very rude to Egyptians!
Aware of the opportunities for business, as well as the incentives, you can now decide whether to expand an existing business into Egypt, or to relocate and set up there. Clearly, there are lots of opportunities for you to do so. Negotiate smoothly and apply basic business etiquette, and you can enjoy both business success in Egypt and the country’s consistently warm weather.