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5 Takeaways from Cairo's Traverse Summit

This month, over 1,000 high school students descended upon Cairo's Greek Campus to network get exposed to career shaping activities at the Traverse summit. Here's what happened.

Egyptian EdTech startup iSpark has just held its second annual summit, Traverse, at Cairo's tech valley, the Greek Campus. Setting off to give high school students educational opportunities to help them in their future careers, the event hosted over 1,000 youngsters with the aim of networking and allowing them the chance to get exposed to extra-curricular activities, engage in different gigs throughout the day, get inspired through talks, panel discussions and success stories by a variety of speakers, as well as enjoying entertaining performances. 

“We are aiming through Traverse to surround our high school students with all the opportunities they can seize and give them the exposure to build their skills and be prepared for what is after their high school years.” said Mostafa Hashisha, Co-founder and CEO of iSpark. “We are aiming to provide the opportunity for each and every student in the MENA region to join such program and to be able to pursue whatever career they want through entrepreneurship, regardless of the available employment opportunities in the market,” said Ahmed El Rosy, the startup's co-founder and COO. Having gathered some of the most inspirational Egyptian professionals who succeeded in following their passion, the summit left more than inspiration in each of the students' minds. Here are some of the takeouts:

1. Stories that make a difference

From the powerful sisters behind fashion startup Okhtein, to inspiring photojournalist Ahmed Hayman, the conference was filled with some of Egypt's most successful youth, as they told their path to success breaking age barriers, gender norms and traditional family mandates to follow their passion. Hosted by stand-up comedian - and once engineer - Alaa El Sheikh, the panels kicked off with Okhtein co-founders Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf, who talked about “Becoming a Female Leader in a Man Driven Society.” Prominent model and rising silver screen starlet Salma Abu Deif took to the stage to share her journey “Breaking Standards”, followed by championing athlete Farida Osman. Abdelrahman Roshdy surprised the audience with a beautiful performance, after sharing his own story about discovering his passion, followed by Ahmed Hayman, who amused the attendees with his visual storytelling as he narrated how he turned his passion and talent into a career. 

 Okhtein co-founders Aya and Mounaz Abdelraouf inspired over 1,000 youngsters with their talk on leadership.

2. High school entrepreneurs took the stage

Aside from inspiring breakout talents on stage, the conference gave room for some of the youngest entrepreneurs - as young as high school students - to take the mic. The first panel discussion was titled High School Students Running Startups, highlighting the achievements of young entrepreneurs who managed to start their own projects and business while they were still in school, moderated by the founder of Entreprenelle, Rania Ayman. The second panel discussion was moderated by Sarah Nasser, Technology Transfer Officer at TICO at The British University in Egypt. The panel hosted Scholarships Officer Ms. Hadeer Mohamed from Sawiris Foundation who talked about the scholarships offered to students during their undergraduate and post-graduate studies.

3. The bold Young Entrepreneur competition

Young Entrepreneur, one of the first entrepreneurship competitions for high school students in Egypt, aims to enable students to pursue their passions through entrepreneurship. The programme, funded by USAID, will last 4 months, and students can register both as teams of 3 to 5 or individually - and be randomly placed in a team. The programme, powered by a partnership between iSpark and Arcadia, will host weekly trainings where students will go through the phases of ideation, business model canvas, business plan, financial literacy, and then pitching. Kick-starting with a two-day bootcamp covering the ideation phase of the programme, the YE will be followed by the weekly trainings and then will end with a finale event at the end of March where the students will then pitch their businesses in front of a panel of judges.


4. New Platform Rafiki Launches

The official Launch of Rafiki took place in Traverse. Rafiki is the first online platform in the Middle East that connects students with offline learning experiences in any field of their interest. Check out their page here to find out how it works.

5. From poetry to astronomy, over 40 fields

More than 40 extra-curricular activities across different fields took place at the event, exposing high school students to different career paths and interests, featuring prominent universities and university groups such as MUN INC, GUC MUN, Insider MIU, Campaigners MIU, Entrepreneur’s Society, Arcadia, Inspire, Artkhana, Arabesque, Hope Academy, Journey of Entrepreneurs (JOE), Egypt Poets Society, Supply Chain Secrets, TEDx Al Rehab, ELS MUN, TREE, IMEU, TIQ, Finoon art center, Astronomy Club AinShams, Tefl ship, Model of American Congress, Quach, Seeds of Peace, 3alashanyk ya Balady, AIESEC, Beit El Sura, MECA, Mese, Remal, Scops, Nebny, MCM, Harassmap, ENMUN, MESMUN, The Vanguard, TEDx Youth @SIS, Eduvation, Basmah.

For more info about iSpark, visit their Facebook page

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