Last year in February 2020, the Central Bank of Egypt launched an initiative called “FinYology – FinTech For Youth”, in collaboration with the Egyptian Banking Institute as its strategic partner, to raise awareness on FinTech among university undergrad and postgrad students, in addition to exploring young talent by encouraging and supporting the creation of innovative FinTech solutions to modern-day financial problems in Egypt.
This ongoing initiative was the subject of the third episode of the FinTech Egypt Dialogue podcast, and an excited audience sat listening attentively as moderator Hossam Mahmoud, Advisor for Startup Finance, GIZ, kicked things off and introduced the guest lineup. The three speakers attending the third session were Dr. Lamya El Ayouby, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at New Giza University, Mr. Emad Shawky, Head of Digital Factory and Innovation at Banque Misr, and Mrs. Laila El Oteifi, Senior Director, Research and Awareness Department at the Egyptian Banking Institute.
Mr. Emad Shawky led the introduction phase by giving a brief overview of his role at Banque Misr, where he has been for 3 years so far. Being involved at the crossroads between technology and financial services for more than 20 years, Mr. Shawky has held tenure at various financial institutions across his career, where he harnessed the power of technology to enable growth into different markets and acquire more clients for these organizations.
The moderator went on to ask Mr. Shawky to elaborate on the gaps he thinks are found in the current FinTech talent market, as well as what kind of talents they have now at Digital Factory and what kind of talents they are looking to attract. He stated that, although the current team is made up of a young, unique and agile workforce that is delivering a new generation of FinTech services, he believes his organization is in need of a lot of fresh talent that will do things in a different way, but that also comes with its challenges; new graduates need to learn and research a lot to face the rapid pace of technology and its implications on the industry, typically taking up a lot of time and effort for them to prepare themselves, and he mentioned that this has been facilitated by the FinYology initiative that adds FinTech to the students’ curricula, but it is still not enough to deal with the huge potential that awaits them.
Following with Ms. Laila El Oteifi, Senior Director, Research and Awareness Department at the Egyptian Banking Institute introduced herself to the audience, and highlighted her career which spanned more than 13 years in the banking sector. She mentioned that her research department at EBI allowed her to conduct many awareness-raising seminars, conferences and workshops on banking topics, and the department also releases a series of periodical studies and publications covering a wide selection of critical trends and themes of the industry, in addition to organizing different activities and competitions for young bankers. When asked about the young talent at EBI, Mrs. El Oteifi mentioned the various programs that they have for nurturing this talent, like the Training for Employment Program (TFE) that aims to bridge the gap between academic education and the labor market requirements by developing the technical and business skills of youth through a specialized training. Furthermore, the program is helping the students build a conscious personality that will make them capable of interacting and dealing with others and boost the skills required for their career growth. EBI also recently launched entrepreneurship programs and an in-house business incubator that elevates students from ideation to incubation for the last couple of years. These efforts that combine business knowledge and financial awareness offer a comprehensive approach to creating the bankers of tomorrow, embodied in the several seminars that EBI conducts. Hosam Mahmoud asked about how students and interested people in general can follow all these efforts and get updates, to what Ms. El Oteifi replied that the EBI website and social media channels contain all the information, and students can either call the institute or contact their dedicated customer support team to get answers to all their inquiries about any program offered.
Dr. Lamya El Ayouby, Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship at New Giza University, then took to the digital stage to answer a question about her journey as an educator that keeps students aware and updated with the latest FinTech trends and practices. Dr. Lamya has been teaching entrepreneurship for 10 years, and she stated that her main approach is to get her students real-world case studies that they can study and understand through a hands-on approach. Although her programs did not previously focus on FinTech but rather the business side, she was later introduced to the FinYology initiative by Dr. Rasha Negm, Head of FinTech & Innovation at the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), after which she researched FinTech as an industry and found it to be a treasure trove for her business students. Unfortunately, that passion was implemented during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has led to her conducting her lessons about FinTech online with her students, which proved to be challenging in terms of having to introduce a new, somewhat complicated topic like FinTech remotely.
Dr. Lamya also emphasized that although the current FinTech ecosystem in Egypt has been addressing many pending problems and has been greatly empowering and supporting startups, banks and financial institutions, FinTech education tends to focus on those entities while leaving out two important elements that will complete the cycle once addressed; the current level of financial literacy needs to be raised quickly, as she believes these will be the early adopters of new technologies, and also the gap in talent availability in Egypt as Mr. Shawky mentioned.
The “FinYology – FinTech for Youth” initiative has been getting traction with university students across Egypt, with more than 600 students participating in creating over 280 projects and resulting in 35 awarded internships won by students. The third episode of the FinTech Egypt Dialogue has certainly yielded some great insights and information from leading experts that can help bridge the gap between FinTech-passionate students and the required talent pool that will eventually spearhead the digital change into the next phase of FinTech solutions in Egypt.
Check out the full episode and get to know the state of FinTech talent in the market today.