The GrEEK Campus (before it was home to the university, it was a school for the Greek community of Cairo) is just part of Alfi's efforts. He also started a fund, Sawari Ventures, and a network of accelerators called Flat6Labs, with locations in Cairo, Jeddah and Abu Dhabi.
Alfi invested the majority of the funds for all three endeavors, he said, though he won't be specific about how much, except to say that it is one-tenth what it would cost in the United States. He's currently raising another $50 million fund for Sawari from institutions and individuals. He said he hasn't made money — yet.
The Egyptian economy is large, with a rapidly expanding middle class, and many of the tech companies find an early path to growth in the domestic market of 90 million people. Despite the obstacles — such as the recent downing of a charter plane in Sinai, which will likely hurt Egypt's all-important tourism sector, the World Bank predicted the GDP to grow at a rate of 4.2 percent this year, more than double the rates during the turmoil.
And there are beginning to be examples of IPOs and outside investments. In May, Cairo-based IDH, a health-care diagnostics company, went public on the London Stock Exchange and was valued at $668 million. Another sign of the potential: Uber's announcement it was investing $250 million in the Middle East, some of its fastest-growing markets, with Egypt a key.