Shell has announced the expansion of its “Intilaaqah Egypt Program” to include a 12-month training program for 500 young Egyptian entrepreneurs helping them start their own businesses in 2016.

According to a Shell’s press release, the program, operating in partnership with the Misr El-Kheir Foundation, will provide entrepreneurial training and support to young Egyptians in Cairo, Minya, Matrouh, Qena, Beni Sueif and Assuit over the next year.

Aidan Murphy, Shell Egypt Country Chairman, said that “the partnership with Misr El-Kheir Foundation (MEK) is a strategic and a successful addition to the Shell Intilaaqah’s Egypt portfolio. Earlier this year, we celebrated 10 years of success of Intilaaqah in Egypt, which represents an integral part of Shell Egypt’s social investment activities; supporting young entrepreneurs establish and maintain their businesses. We look forward to providing training and technical support for more young Egyptian entrepreneurs with our new partner, MEK”.

The chairman also noted the value of corporate social responsibility projects such as Intilaaqah for Shell: “Our program stands out in the way it supports youth by not only providing training and technical assistance to young entrepreneurs, but also by encouraging the integration of local content into the supply chain of large corporations; leading to business growth and creation of new job opportunities.”

As Egyptian youth has been suffering from increasing unemployment, the importance of entrepreneurship has grown. Leaders of both organizations stated their desire to see programs such as this improve Egypt’s social and economic environments.

The expansion of the program comes after the success of Shell’s existing efforts.

Lamia Ashour, Social Investment Manager and the Intilaaqah Program Head at Shell Egypt, highlighted: “We trained around 900 young entrepreneurs in 2015 alone; 221 have existing businesses, with an equal split of females and males. I am proud to say that the program has trained around 7,400 young Egyptians, and has contributed to the development and creation of over 750 small businesses, to date, across 14 Egyptian governorates and cities.”