Entrepreneurship

Nafham wins Stars of Business award for SMEs

The pioneer online educational platform in the Middle East “Nafham” won the Stars of Business award for the best distance…

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The pioneer online educational platform in the Middle East “Nafham” won the Stars of Business award for the best distance learning project. The company was honored as the best online startup during the SME beyond Borders summit held in Egypt in September 2016.

Mostafa Farahat, GM and Co-Founder of Nafham, expressed his delight to receive the Stars of Business award, saying “We worked since the launch of Nafham in 2012 to improve the quality of education provided to the Arab students and the Egyptians students in particular. The award has crowned our efforts and the support offered by the summit, leading banking institution such as National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) and Etisalat Egypt. ”

He added “As we have become one of those companies which attract the attention of banking institutions and telecommunications companies, it is considered a great success for startups and entrepreneurship sector in Egypt and a mark of a promising relationship which would develop the Egyptian entrepreneurship climate if integrated with this growing sector and fulfilled its needs.”

Farahat expressed his delight to be one of the speakers at the SME Beyond Borders forum, held in Cairo, pointing out that the SMEs are one of the development factors in both the developing and developed countries. He added that the increase of companies with social impact in the region, such as “Nafham”, opens new horizons for cooperation between large enterprises and these startups that would accelerate development and provide new useful services to the community.

Farahat said that the main objective of “Nafham” is to develop school students in Egypt and Arab countries in general through educational videos, making it easier for students to receive information without getting bored. It also helps teachers to explain the educational materials in simple ways. It is the secret recipe of excellence which contributed to increase the number of students using “Nafham” to half a million students and receiving that important award.

It is to be noted that “the SME Beyond Borders summit was held in Cairo, on September 26, to support SMEs and shed light on its importance for the society and the local economy. The other speakers included Sahar Nasr, Minister of International Cooperation; Ahmed Ismail Hassan, Country CEO of NBAD-Egypt; Khaled Rabie, CBO of Etisalat Egypt; Ashraf Gamal El Din, CEO of Hawkamah, the Institute for Corporate Governance, at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC); Lobna Helal, Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), and Soha Soliman, Managing Director of Social Fund for Development (SFD).

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When and how to start outsourcing your business?

There is a reason why freelancing and outsourcing is becoming a popular trend with many international companies. With a tough…

There is a reason why freelancing and outsourcing is becoming a popular trend with many international companies. With a tough local and international economy, companies have to do what it takes to maintain a steady profit, and find ways to reduce costs.

Outsourcing is becoming a big trend in many industries, due to its many advantages and low costs.

For small and big businesses alike, there comes a time when a decision must be made. Do you build a new team or primary service, buy certain tools or do you outsource for a short time?

That is another way that outsourcing can help.

 

So, when should you start considering to outsource?

Do you procrastinate when faced with a particular task?

Is it a one-time task? Is it a primary service that your business offers, or something for a specific client or project?

Is it a once a month task? Such as Legal duties, or financial accounting?

Are you still saving up for an expansion? Could you afford an expansion for this task?

Is it a non-essential function of your business?

If you’ve answered all by one of those as yes, then that is when you should be outsourcing.

A definition for outsourcing is “the strategic use of outside resources to perform activities traditionally handled by internal staff and resources.”

The reason is simple, because it can be advantageous most of the time.

Your business is saving money, effort, time and energy, making it more efficient on that tasks that truly matter.

 

Why should a business outsource?

So, you know when you should be looking into it, or maybe you’re interested.

The thought still lingers in your mind, it might be a good idea but why should I?

There are many things that you can consider that could make outsourcing a great opportunity for your business.

 

1. Employee costs and non-productive hours

Office space, cafeteria benefits, hospital visits, insurance, and lunch breaks are things that cost the company profit per full-time employee.

These are also things you can save on when outsourcing.

These make a full-time employee more than twice as expensive as a short offer for a freelancer.

 

2. Efficiency

Freelancers and outsourcing give you a special opportunity, an opportunity to capture and use talented people that you may not have been able to afford otherwise.

Talented graphic designers, high-end lawyers, highly-organized accountants, and smart assistants can be found as freelancers, and at a lower-price than full-timers.

They tend to be more efficient as they have stricter deadlines than full-timers, and may be able to do the job better than you or any other current employee.

 

3. Frees up internal resources

Getting freelancers doesn’t only work as a way to do unrelated or menial tasks, they also function as a way to lift weight off of your shoulders.

Using a content marketing freelancer to prepare content calendars, or receiving content from freelance content creators, can help free up internal resources.

Freeing you and your employees up for other important tasks, tasks that they can handle more efficiently with less of a work load.

 

What are you waiting for?

As you can see, outsourcing could be a very beneficial strategy for you and your business.

It does come with its own issues, such as communication and delivery of work, but if you plan it right, it will help you and your business thrive.

So, what are you waiting for?

Have another reason why outsourcing won’t be a part of your business strategy? Let us know in the comments below.

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Entrepreneurship, Interviews, Opinions

Explaining Affiliate Marketing as emerging market in MENA region

In an office in agency filled Mohandessin, Araby Ads prepare to expand as they move into their new and larger…

In an office in agency filled Mohandessin, Araby Ads prepare to expand as they move into their new and larger office. As the people behind the growth of Affiliate Marketing in Egypt, Araby Ads is also preparing for its first paid Arab Affiliate Summit, where freelancers and companies come together to discuss the market’s growth and trends.

Sitting down with CEO and co-founder of Araby Ads and the Arab Affiliate Summit, Think Marketing learns more about Mahmoud Fathy and this new emerging market.

 

All right, let’s start slowly. From Physics to a niche marketing industry, and by 26 already a founder of a large company (Araby Ads), how was the transition from a Physics major to marketing then entrepreneurship?

At first, it was all about trying to build my career. With universities in Egypt, I felt unsure about my future, so I tried to make money. I tried to build my own business.

When I thought about my studies in physics, I realized it wasn’t the perfect or greatest match for me, so I decided to make money online.

When searching through the internet, under how to make money online in Arabic, you will find a lot of scams, a lot of spam. I kept searching until I found some articles on Affiliate Marketing, which I studied for 2 years.

I first worked at Bayt.com, where I soon became their top performer, and I was paid around 200k USD in the first year. I also worked at the region’s first performance marketing agency called IKOO.com, it was also the regions first affiliate network. I also became their top performer by the end of the year.

Soon, I felt like it was time, so I started building my team, some of them are still with me, and started to work as a small media buying team, working with clients such as IKOO and Bayt. And from there, we built.

Now we [Araby Ads] have over 70 employees, and I believe we are the leading affiliate network in the Middle East.

 

So, your company, Araby Ads, is aimed towards Affiliate marketing. Could you quickly elaborate on what is Affiliate Marketing?

Affiliate Marketing is a type of Performance Marketing.

The main goal of an Affiliate is to make money online, so how do they do it? They can approach companies, such as Amazon, and tell them they would like to work for them. They will most likely be told that they can work as a freelancer. If they are able to promote their products or send them users that are willing to buy something, they will pay the freelancer [affiliate] around 10% of the Sale.

This process is called Affiliate Marketing.

So, the advertiser, Amazon, will pay for any conversions received from the freelancer’s website.

If you are an influencer, and have a following on Facebook or etc, your audience is listening to you. So why not make a video talking about Amazon’s new iPhone?

Let’s say, I am an influencer, and I want to make money from my audience. So I can make a video talking about the new iPhone and its features, that it can be found on Amazon, and here is a special link to a discount from me.

Your audience trusts you, so they will click on the link and buy the iPhone. Now I have helped Amazon make a sale, so Amazon will now pay me for every conversion around 10%. This is one example of how affiliates can make money.

So how does it work?

Can you write a blog post, can you make a video, can you convince your audience to buy something from this special link?

The main things to think about are does your audience trust you? Will they interact with your content?

It is all about targeting your audience correctly, and having them trust you and your content.

 

Tell us then, what made you venture into Affiliate marketing? It’s a tight market that most don’t think of in the MENA region.

As a start, it was purely about making money, to be honest.

But after a while, what was my goal? I already made a lot of money as a freelancer, and I can work at any time as long as I have internet and a computer. So, I thought to myself, why not enjoy what I am doing?

It became not about being an affiliate, but building a business. As a young businessman, I wanted to introduce the concept [of affiliate marketing] to the market here.  I wanted to build a business from a local Egyptian one to an international one.

I wanted to become the one place where people know, if you are looking for Affiliate Marketing in the MENA region, there is one destination, Araby Ads. If you want to make [or attend] an event, there is only the Arab Affiliate Summit.

 

So, tell us about the Arab Affiliate Summit, which was created by your company 4 years ago. What made you decide that we needed a place to meet, learn, connect and start talking about Affiliate marketing?

We have a lot of opportunity with Affiliate marketing here in the Middle East. There was no competition, no market, we created the market. So, we said to ourselves, how about we invest in the market? To educate the market.

Most freelancers don’t know a lot about Affiliate Marketing, so we want to educate them. When it comes to advertisers, when it comes to affiliates, and connect all of them in one place.

It was, honestly, also about leaving a legacy. That was our hope.

We already had money, I personally was already rich from being a freelancer, and so was my partner. So, we thought, what about giving back to our industry?

 

And how did that go?

Our first summit was actually free. The first year was the hardest for us, we tried to introduce a new concept to the market. We heard a lot of “no, this isn’t right. No, you have a hidden agenda!” I mean, guys, come on! It was a free event, we didn’t need anything, just attend.

 

Well, we Egyptians don’t accept free.

Yup!

 

Let’s talk Affiliate marketing in the region. Worldwide, this particular marketing industry makes over $7 Billion dollars a year, just how much of that is made in Egypt and the MENA region?

Egypt made around 100 million USD last year, and the MENA region market is around 300 million. The growth rate in Egypt is around 100%.

This year, my company alone, will make around 200 million USD, so the overall market would be around 300 million. We are also trying to expand in Algeria, Sudan, and other countries.

 

How has the industry affected the economy? Has it helped the local economy through ways such as self-employment, increase in GDP, etc?

I enjoy helping both sides, I am trying to help the freelancers just like me and you, or anyone in this country who wants to make money online with a trusted company.  We are trying to get them jobs to help with unemployment.

They contribute to the economy by putting their money in the bank at the end of the day.

 

What are the current ways for affiliates to serve ads, sponsorship or product placement? Are there any new trends that we should look out for?

Influencers because they trust them now, they follow them and their recommendations, and online ads such as Instagram and Facebook ads.

Unfortunately, influencers don’t have as much effect here as they do in the Gulf countries, because Egyptians lose trust in influencers when they start doing ads.

 

What other type of content do you believe will explode in the near future?

A kind of blogging called comparison websites.

 

Should Affiliate marketing be something both small and large companies focus on? Does it make a difference for both sides, or only for certain players?

In the end, both types of companies can benefit from [Affiliate Marketing], because in the end of the day, they want revenue.

For me, big companies are easier to work with because people already trust them, know them and their products well, but they prefer the traditional way of marketing.

But I prefer to work with small companies, because I believe it is more challenging, and I really like to grow with my clients.

 

Who are these affiliates? Who are they, why do they enjoy or prefer this type of work, and are they actually making enough?

All of the are like you and me. Most of them are jobless, they are looking to make a family, but they all face the same issue? They finish college and they ask themselves “what do I do now?”

They want to make something of themselves, they believe in the internet and that it can make great things. Most of them hate their full-time jobs, they love to be free.

Statistically, around of 80% of the affiliates are male. I do think that this model would be perfect for the females in this country, since both genders are already looking for jobs, but females in our region have a lot of issues, aside from cultural issues.

I believe that working from home is the best option for them, to live the lifestyle they are looking for without issues from men and cultural norms in closed countries.

 

Lastly, how would you advise those who are interested in joining the industry as an affiliate?

To be committed, and don’t think it is an easy job. You have to build a good and diverse profile, learn marketing and use your money effectively when it comes to online ads.

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Communications, Entrepreneurship, Featured Stories

5 ways to better network at your next business event

Entering a conference is simple, you walk in, register and find a seat. Finding someone to talk to is easy…

Entering a conference is simple, you walk in, register and find a seat. Finding someone to talk to is easy too, just bring someone along, but to actually leverage the potential power of networking? That’s scary.

Going to a conference is about finding new ideas, opportunities and meeting new people to help grow your career. Unfortunately, many of us don’t know how to properly use these chances to grow our professional network.

If there are key persons you’re hoping to meet at your next event for potential business cooperation, do some pre-meeting research online. Scope out these individuals’ LinkedIn profiles to learn the basics about them and look for common connections.

To help you get on your way, here are 5 ways to network at your next conference or corporate event.

 

1) Arrive early and leave late:

With our penchant for always coming late anyway, it can be a bit difficult for many to change this for one event.

Yet that is what you should be doing.

Arriving early means having a quiet and not so crowded area for you to get into the mood of introducing yourself to strangers. Talk to people at the coffee stand while you make coffee, make a bad joke about the muffins, and start off slowly.

This can inspire you to become braver as the room thickens with people.

Similarly, stay later than you’re used to.

Many people lose another important networking opportunity by running off right before or after the conference. This is a great time for you to continue a conversation with someone, or introduce yourself to speakers and others who have just gotten free.

 

2) Find the nearest coffee machine:

In between breaks or even the rest of the day before the next day’s sit down, look out for the nearest popular sitting place. During breaks, many are relaxed and hoping for a relaxed conversation, as well as either coffee and tea with maybe a Shisha.

Look at the location of the conference. Are there a lot of people sitting in the lobby café? If not, look around for nearby ahwas and Starbucks. Strike up a conversation while waiting in line, or find someone wearing a lanyard and/or something from the conference.

A chance meeting outside of a formal atmosphere, and to talk about anything other than the conference or event, allows for further networking later on at the event itself.

If there are international conference goers, try the hotel bar. Sit at the bar, and make short conversations while they wait for their drink, even if you’re just drinking Sprite.

 

3) Check those Hashtags!

Event hashtags aren’t there for show, they’re there to find conference goers see who’s there and where they are.

Look it up on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram. Find out where the people are going. This is a continuation of the last point.

You can find people sitting in empty rooms, upstairs on the roof lounge, maybe even making small prompt-to meetups at a nearby restaurant or café.

Take a deep breath and go have some fun as you network at a more relaxed atmosphere.

 

4) Stay at the hotel:

This is for those conferences that are out of the city, or even country, but something that can still be used during local events.

Late networking events, dinners and activities could easily happen at the same hotel as the conference. In most cases, many of the speakers and other attendees are also staying there.

This gives you prime opportunities to meet other conference goers during buffet dinners, breakfast, and even the gym.

For those living nearby? Stick around for a lunch or dinner at the hotel, and many hotels allow day use gym access.

 

5) Strengthen your pitch:

The second most common question after “who do you work for?” is “What do they/you do?”

It is important to practice what to say here. Whether you’re talking about your company’s services/products or what you bring to the office, it is important to be able to speak clearly without being nervous at this point.

Tighten your pitch before the conference, make sure you nail your first impression because it might be significant to the person in front of you.

 

Bonus: How to enter the networking dance

One of the hardest thing to do, and what most tips forget to talk about, is to start or join a conversation. Here are some basic non-verbal tips on how to start and join any conversation at your next conference.

 

1,2,3 and here we go

People group into singles (1), doubles (2) and more. Here are some small tips to help you get started.

Always approach single people first, they’re just like you and are unsure of how to start networking with others. They will be the most welcoming and easiest to start with, as they are eager to meet new people too.

A simple introduction here can get the ball rolling.

For the doubles, look for people talking in a V shape (their bodies pointed outwards), these people are having an open conversation and wouldn’t mind more company.

People who have their bodies directly in front of each other means a closed and possibly intense conversation, avoid those until they open up.

Joining a group of people is the same thing. Here, look for groups standing in a U shape, again indicating an opportunity for others to join in.

Those in an O, or closed, shape should be avoided as they are some of the hardest to join.

A conference can be so much more than learning from those speaking on stage, but can be a significant opportunity to meet others who can help you grow yourself or your business.

Appreciate the next time you go to one, you may meet a new business partner, a person who may recommend you for a job or even a brand-new job.

Looking for a place to practice? Try Marketing Kingdom, the Creative Industry Summit, or Narrative PR summit.

Let us know if any of these tips help you out in the comments below, or on our Facebook.

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Entrepreneurship

Google helps MENA startups with expanded Launchpad Accelerator

As one of the world’s largest and most influential internet companies, Google has continued to expand its empire, like with…

As one of the world’s largest and most influential internet companies, Google has continued to expand its empire, like with many tech companies, through helping startups.

And if you’re a budding startup or entrepreneur, Google’s Launchpad Accelerator is a dream.

Unfortunately, the launchpad was initially only available in certain countries in Asia and Latin America. Fortunately, ahead of their newest class of startups announcement, Google has expanded to accept countries in Africa and Europe.

A wide range of countries can now apply for the program, including Egypt, Algeria, Morocco, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Romania.

 

The accelerator program is a six-month program, where selected startups are invited for a two-week intensive mentorship bootcamp at Google HQ in Silicon Valley.

There, startups will be able to gain access to over 30 Google teams and experts, engineers and resources. Other resources include speakers from various Silicon Valley startups and tech companies.

Startups will also have the ability to meet and connect with other international startups, networking and building connections for future endeavors.

 

 

Afterwards, participants will continue to receive support (up to six-months) from Google via their Google Ambassador, who will continue to provide them with resources and advice.

The Launchpad Accelerator is currently only for tech startups aimed at local markets, and have proven they have a product-market fit. This means applicants must already have traction or work in the field.

Google also considers various other conditions when going through applicants, such as

  • Have you and your team set out to address a real challenge for your home city, country and region?
  • How does it create value for your users?
  • Does your team have the drive and the attitude to become an influencer in your industry?

 

Applications for the Launchpad Accelerator are open now, due date to apply for the program is October 2, 2017. You can apply here.

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