Posts Tagged ‘MENA’

Story from the Trenches – SuperMama

by Lana Al-Kazimi

Yasmine El-Mehairy is a native of Cairo, Egypt. She studied Computer and Information Science at Ain Shams University in Egypt before later receiving her MSc in Interactive Multimedia at the University of Westminster, UK in 2004. She has worked in IT since then, holding positions such as Quality Assurance Specialist at International Business Machines (IBM) and Portal Project Manager at Al-Masry Al-Youm Newspaper. Her dual interest in entrepreneurship and social change ultimately led her to co-found SuperMama a year and a half ago with her partner, Zeinab Samir. SuperMama is a parenting website that features support, advice, videos, feedback and much more for parents and parents-to-be, a completely new idea in the Middle East. SuperMama is the epitome of creating a new market instead of entering an existing one, and Yasmine was kind enough to share her startup experience with us!

How did the idea of SuperMama come to life?

Right off the bat, let me state that I am not a mother myself. The thing is, my partner and I always knew that we wanted to do something that added value, not something for the sole purpose of money-generation. We were on the lookout for the right idea until coincidentally, my sister-in-law announced that she was pregnant. We soon realized how lucky she was because my entire family is made up of doctors, so anytime she needed advice she had easy access to verified opinions and was comfortable researching the web to get authentic information regarding her pregnancy. However, that is not the case with the majority of mothers and mothers-to-be in Egypt. It’s not easy to get practical parenting advice – in fact, the most popular source of information is someone’s mother or mother-in-law. These sources advise based on how they did it, or how their sister or aunt did it, and so forth. There’s no guarantee that the information the parents receive is authentic or credible. It’s all based on lessons from past experience, which I’m not belittling at all, but we are now faced with problems that our mothers and grandmothers didn’t have to deal with back then. That’s when we realized we wanted to offer something that would help mothers manage their lives accompanied by practical, tested and proven advice such that they can spend the time they need focusing on their families.
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The Freedom to Start – An Insider’s Perspective

by Lana Al-Kazimi

Karim Kobeissi is currently the Senior Legal and Policy Advisor to the Minister of Telecommunications in Lebanon. Moreover, he is a managing partner at Kobeissi and Frangie, a law firm established in 2006 that specializes in various facets of law, such as finance, commercial, corporate, real estate, construction, insurance, telecommunications, and energy. Karim received his Bachelor’s of Science in Computer and Communications Engineering from the American University of Beirut before turning his focus to Law and gaining a degree in International Law from Saint Joseph University in Lebanon and his LL.M. from Harvard Law School in 2000. Over and above that, Karim used to play professional basketball for the Lebanese national team, is co-founder of the Civil Center for National Initiative in Lebanon, president of the Harvard Law School Association of Arabia, and teaches at both the graduate and undergraduate level at AUB, among other things.

A prime example of giving back to his country, Karim’s latest endeavor is the Beirut Digital District, which is the key focus of this interview. Karim was my Business Law professor while I was pursuing my Bachelor’s, and I am proud to say I am still learning from him!

What is your view on entrepreneurship in the MENA region?

Entrepreneurship is a mindset, and to allow it to flourish you need to have the necessary institutions in place

This is an interesting question. There are definitely a lot of talented people here. Countries in the MENA are well equipped in terms of education to produce entrepreneurs. However, there needs to be more emphasis on certain freedoms, such as the freedom of speech and assembly. Entrepreneurship is a mindset, and to allow it to flourish you need to have the necessary institutions in place. There is not one initiative that can take off without having the freedom to do so, just look at the examples in the USA. The beauty of Lebanon is that the freedom to aspire and create is here, but it needs to trickle over to other countries in the region. At the same time, the market itself needs to be positioned correctly, and not all countries in the MENA have this at the moment. For entrepreneurship to flourish, the market needs to be open and receptive, as well as ready to experiment. Ultimately, there is definitely a lot of potential for the region, but we are still working towards it.
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5 reasons to attend YallaStartup Weekend

1. Network, meet potential co-founders and investors

A huge challenge to most entrepreneurs is finding other like-minded people that share the same passions, and compliment their skill-sets. At YallaStartup weekend you’ll get the chance to spend 54 hours surrounded by people that eat their morning bowls of cereal thinking “startup”, and fall asleep thinking how to create the next big thing. In fact, 85% of all previous StartupWeekend participants still kept in touch with someone they met at the event!

2. Build awesome companies

Go from idea to launch. You have 54 hours to figure out everything from the mission, your target market, your competitors and your go-to market strategies. You will also have to give a full presentation of a working prototype and validation of concept to your peers. Over 36% of the Startup Weekend Startups are still active. Over 10% of companies go on to produce revenue or get seed funding, but every time people leave with more experience, insight, knowledge, friends, and resources than they came with.

3. Unlimited Learning Potential

Learn the best practices of UX or how to build a viral marketing strategy and get live feedback on your ideas. Rather than just theorizing, put your brain and hands to work and create, iterate, and then learn how to sell your idea. As much as ideas are important execution is what makes or breaks them. Take this opportunity to develop, and present in front of peers and experts. Not only is it a stage for you to practice on, but you will interact with some of the community’s best and brightest (including yourself!) and learn from each others.

4. Awesome PR

YallaStatup media partners include ReadWriteWeb, The NextWeb Middle East, Knowledge@Wharton, StartupArabia, Hibr,  iTech Entrepreneurs, Executive Magazine, Naharnet and more … This is your chance to be featured on the most respected and read news sources, both regionally and world-wide.

5. Win great prizes and most importantly HAVE FUN

Startup Weekend has been represented in 100 cities and 23 countries, has had over 15,000 entrepreneurs in just 3 years and has launched over 560 new ventures! YallaStartup has brought Startup Weekend to the Middle East for the first time ever. Now is your chance to be part of this entrepreneurial network and to kick-start your company or idea.
As Wayne Gretzky put it, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take , so don’t miss this one, Yalla come and Startup!
Click here to sign up if you haven’t already.

YallaStartup Mafia ganging up at MENA ICT Forum

101010: That’s not binary for “Hello” that’s the date the YallaStartup team will be in Jordan taking part in the MENA ICT Forum!

We are excited that YallaStartup is viewed as a regional thought leader at the event. YallaStartup co-founder, Habib Haddad, will be speaking at the event on two panels, the MENA Ecosystem and Addressing the Arabic Content Crisis. He will be discussing the realities as they appear on the ground and our unique approach to addressing them.

If you happen to be at MENA ICT Forum, please pass by, give us a shout out and cheer us along. If you are not around, feel free to send us your ideas and thoughts by commenting below, tweeting, watweting, emailing, texting, buzzing, facebooking, foursquaring or even ESPing!

We’ll be likely organizing a YallaStartup mafia hangout and will be welcoming all you God Fathers :).  Please stay tuned and see you soon!


Let’s get this entrepreneurship party started!

Party theme

Our goal is to assist MENA (Middle East & North Africa) entrepreneurs transform their ideas to reality, taking their early stage startups to the next level. We hope to create the right channels and programs that cultivate a strong entrepreneurial community and we will be announcing some very soon.

Party hosts

We are three entrepreneurs from the Middle East. We founded, advised, fund raised and sold a number of companies in the US and Middle East. Throughout our journeys we faced a number of issues that we had to overcome, some were tougher than others. We realized that a lot of entrepreneurs in the MENA region face the same problems and we decided to do something about it.

Party people and Party food

As with every party, success is highly dependent on the people … and on the food!  There is no cover charge no dress code, and no reservations, just bring your own food, share and and receive. We are big fans of open communities and hope, to create that through YallaStartup! We will also be inviting many experts from various fields to share their deep expertise with all of us.

But most of all, enjoy it

Doing your startup is like being on a roller coaster, one day you are the king of the world, the next day you question yourself on why you took the jump. One thing is for sure, it’s one FUN ride. So be ready to enjoy it to the max!

Almost ready …

Yalla, we are almost ready to go live, but before we do so we are giving away free entrepreneurship courses.

Elie Khoury, Habib Haddad & Sami Shalabi