Saturday, February 5, 2011

Lessons for Business From Egypt and Mubarek

Newswires across the world reported former President Hosni Mubarek's stepping down from his office as head of the Egyptian government today, amid the cheers of Egyptian protestors from all walks of life. The L.A. Times reports that Mubarek's ruling party, the National Democratic Party, will be systematically disintegrated as the nation moves forward with the next evolution of its political system.

We've all seen the news stories surrounding the protests in Egypt, and they all seem to be coming from the same, straightforward angle. I'd like to take the time to think a bit deeper about Egypt, and riots in general, to see if there are any underlying business opportunities to be found. The recession has taught me (and many others) that any event that is bad for one industry is good for another. Let's take a look at some industries that may benefit from riots and protests around the world.

Insurance carriers take a huge hit during riots, as large numbers of business clients file claims for property damage and theft. In the aftermath of a large riot, however, insurance companies can take advantage of unaffected business owners' fears that their storefronts may come under attack in the future. A post-riot quiet-time can give insurance salespeople an edge.

When a protest turns into a riot, it is a sign of failure on the part of the police. In the aftermath of a large riot, businesses and local government entities may be more willing to contract with private security companies to protect their assets and keep the peace in their establishments. If my shop had been ransacked by looters, I would gladly talk to a sales representative from a private security company.

Medical Services
Injuries and deaths caused by rioting are terribly unfortunate incidents, and they should be avoided at all costs. When things do get out of hand, however, business booms for private medical facilities in addition to government-run hospitals. You can bet hospitals in the Cairo area have increased their revenues exponentially as the protesting has continued to escalate.

Riots and protests make fascinating news. International events such as the protests in Egypt give freelance reporters and small-scale publications an opportunity to capitalize on something big, driving traffic to their websites and spreading the credibility of their brand.

Food and Beverage Vendors
This may seem a bit silly and terrifyingly surreal, but large-scale, drawn-out protests create the same atmosphere as a huge concert event: a ton of people crowded into a cramped space, standing and screaming all day with little or no food and water. If anyone were entrepreneurial and brave enough to traverse the crowds selling water bottles in Cairo, they could have made an killing over the last week.

What other business opportunities can riots around the world provide?

Further Reading
L.A. Times: Egypt Ruling Party Leadership Resigns
Sify News: Egypt's Credit Rating Downgraded
Addis Neger Online: Egypt Update - Mubarek to Leave?


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