Yomken, meaning ‘possible’ in Arabic, is a crowdsourcing solutions and funding site founded by a group of entrepreneurs who wanted to revive innovation in the Arab world. The foundation of their business is transforming the Arabic concept of fahlawa into a commercial proposition. Fahlawa has no direct translation, but describes a combination of wit, innovation, intuition, resourcefulness, and experience.
From the mid-7th to the mid-13th century during the Islamic Golden Age, the Arab-Muslim world was the birthplace of sciences such as Algebra and Astronomy; inventions such as ibn Al-Haitham’s pinhole camera, shampoo; and many more. Although this rich heritage of invention and innovation has not been completely lost in the present day, many creative products and innovative solutions never see the light of day in the Arab world. This is primarily because there is a lack of platforms where innovators can solve challenges, and obtain market funding. Yomken.com was set up to address these challenges head on and assert the importance of innovation to economic competitiveness and its potential for poverty alleviation.
Most of the current innovation-support programmes in the Arab world only support the top of the technology pyramid and are “technology-push” rather than “market-driven”. As such there is a lack of financial products that are tailored to respond to R&D activities or innovations in the industrial sector.
Necessity is the mother of all inventions, and so a group of entrepreneurs decided to create a platform where innovators can solve challenges and showcase their products, as well as connect all the isolated clusters of innovators, NGOs, big multinationals and entrepreneurs with the rest of the crowd. And thus Yomken was born.
Yomken focuses on low-tech and small businesses, encouraging innovation activities for the Egyptian and Arab industrial micro and small enterprises (MSEs) to increase their comparative advantage especially in relation to Asian competitors. This will help alleviate poverty and fight youth unemployment, in which the Arab world scores the highest rates.
What does Yomken offer?
Yomken offers two main services:
- An open-innovation platform for low-tech MSEs or NGOs working with these MSEs to post the challenges they face (publicly or anonymously) and then link them to creative solutions provided using the “wisdom of the crowd”. These challenges can vary from product development, production process optimisation, usage of alternative raw material, etc. This matchmaking process is fully compliant with the standards of transparency and intellectual rights protection, as described in the platform’s Terms & Conditions.
- Crowdfunding for innovative products (either resulted from the matchmaking or not) through a system of prepayment managed by Yomken.com. Buyers pre-pay for products from their e- wallets, and if the targeted amount (including the production costs and profit) is pledged, both the workshop owner and the innovator together initiate production.