Entrepreneurship and Political Activism in Egypt with Shervin Pishevar

[ Shervin Pishevar (right) is pictured with Sean Penn (center) and Khaled Nawaby before joining the protesters in Tahrir Square. ] As a show of solidarity with the people of Egypt, Shervin Pishevar, managing director of Menlo Ventures, joined the protests against military rule in Tahrir Square.

"Entrepreneurship is a global movement that can knock down barriers to freedom everywhere," Shervin tweeted. "We need more entrepreneurial activists."

Shervin, who is a mentor for Oasis500, arrived in Cairo on Sept. 29 where more than 1M people were people were expected to gather to protest the military council's rule the next day.

"It’s easier to get funding for a gas station than to start the next Facebook or Twitter in the Mideast," Shervin told the NYTimes. "But this is slowly changing in terms of culture and access to capital."

Jordan-based Oasis500 mentors and supports startups in the Mideast and is expected to invest more than $30M in 500 companies by 2014.

While in Cairo, Shervin spoke to entrepreneurs at Santo Cafe.

Jawad Nabulsi, owner of three businesses and the event's organizer tweeted, "@shervin just gave one of the most inspiring speaches ever."

[ Jawad Nabulsi (left) and Shervin (right) stand in the slum of Manshayet Nasser. ]Shervin and Jawad visited Manshayet Nasser, one of the largest slums in Egypt, built on garbage that is home to more than 1.5M people. Jawad was shot in the eye during the uprising earlier this year.

When the Egyptian government shutdown the Internet access in the country in January, Shervin called for others to join the Open Mesh Project to send software to Egypt that could be used to make individual laptops Internet routers.

"I was staying up for days sharing and tweeting information as they happened. I had two close personal friends of mine in Egypt who were passing me information when they could," Shervin wrote on TechCrunch about his reaction to the Egyptian block of the Internet.

That was when he came up with the idea for OpenMesh and tweeted it out. Within a few hours the project came alive, and engineers internationally began working on methods to the right software and hardware to the Egyptians.

Shervin is also a member of the UN Foundation's Global Entrepreneurs Council and serves as an Entrepreneurial Ambassador for several State Department delegations.


Website: http://www.oasis500.com/

Shervin Pishevar
Twitter: @shervin  
Google+: https://plus.google.com/102559200804713337506

Jawad Nabulsi
Twitter: @jawadnabulsi  
Google+: https://plus.google.com/116094758677794008862