The TUI Care Foundation’s Travel Tech for Good accelerator programme kicked off in Egypt in partnership with enpact and UNWTO. Previously, TUI Care Foundation called out for tourism experts to join the programme as mentors and share their expertise with the participants of the programme.
Five tourism experts joined TUI Care Foundation alongside six Egyptian startups, a UNWTO representative and experts from enpact to run a five-day boot camp session in both the desert and Startup Haus Cairo.
Part I: Connecting as human beings
On Sunday, the participants ventured into the deep, remote desert of Wadi El Rayan to dive into nature and to connect with their mentors on a personal level. Spending time in a beautiful yet hostile environment created a unique bond between all participants, as everyone sat together around a campfire during a full moon night or took a walk around the camp to marvel at the star-spangled desert sky. Before the actual acceleration began, the time spent was all about deceleration and how to balance personal happiness, purpose and business growth.
During this time in the desert, the group established a relationship far beyond mentor and mentees – they became friends. It became very clear that knowledge transfer between mentors and mentees is not a one-way-street, it goes both ways. At the end of the day, it comes down to people learning from each other about life, cultures, business and the reasons that keep us going every day – human connection and purpose.
Part II: Accelerating Startups
The next phase of the boot camp took everyone to Startup Haus Cairo, enpact’s working hub in the vibrant and dynamic environment of Egypt’s capital, in order to work on the challenges and opportunities that the startups are facing. The content of the programme varied from day to day: from presentations by mentors and project partners to expert workshops, and from deep dive mentoring sessions to networking luncheons. Tourism experts hosted workshops in their fields of expertise to provide the entrepreneurs with new insights and to encourage out-of-the-box thinking. Additionally, the startups had one-on-one sessions with each mentor, to give the entrepreneurs the opportunity to ask the mentors all of their questions.
Part III: Inspiration for everyone involved
The boot camp and all surrounding kick-off activities have made a deep and lasting impact on all participants, both mentors and entrepreneurs. Christoffer Wickberg, Business Architect for TUI Nordics and one of the participating Mentors commented: "I am super proud to contribute to TUI Care Foundation’s Travel Tech 4 Good programme, it is inspiring to see that this synergy between company’s foundation and the business creates such a strong and evident impact on the startup ecosystem in a destination."
Ahmed Hamed, founder of ToBadaa, a platform connecting travellers to tour guides and locals to facilitate tours and activities, indicated that he gained a lot of additional motivation from the boot camp week: "The team here is just like a family and I have learned a lot. Most valuable to me was to learn how I can get to know more about my customers and to learn how to tell the story of my company." The ability to provide this knowledge and to contribute personally to the development of destinations was often a key motivation for our colleagues. Nora Aspengren, PR & Communications Manager of TUI Nordics, said: "I hope to have sparked an understanding of what communication is and how important that can be to their audience. I hope they see how it can help them in telling the stories that truly matter to their companies and their customers."
Enpact’s Communtiy Manager, Rawan Bassam, mentioned that she received a lot of positive feedback from the startups, saying: "the startups are sad to see them leave, but fortunately they can communicate online." She emphasised that the accelerator is all about facilitating and tracking progress. "We consider this programme to be a success,” she said, "…knowing that we did our best to give the startups an enriching learning experience."
TUI Care Foundation’s Head of Strategic Programmes, Jost Neumann, added: “It’s the beginning of an inspiring journey and already now we have created something unique and I am stunned by the positive effects that became evident not only for the participating startups but also for TUI Care Foundation.”
The Next Phase
The startups will continue to work on their business models in ‘Startup Haus Cairo’. During the next few months, they will develop their value propositions further and receive support from tourism experts worldwide. The first steps have been successful and everyone involved is excited for the final demonstration day in December. Stay tuned for more updates on how our colleagues and entrepreneurs are doing!