March ‘17
The Phenomenal Entrepreneur

March ‘17
Hadeer Shalaby
Hadeer Shalaby


Hadeer Shalaby, the General Manager of Careem, has stood in the face of seemingly impossible challenges and made opportunities out of them with her matchless leadership potential and problem-solving genius. We’ve spoken with the founder and president of AIESEC about how she managed to become one of Egypt’s most affluent entrepreneurs, and she told us her story of the founding of Careem and how she ended up managing the entire Egyptian franchise.

Tell us about yourself and how you ended up GM of Careem Cairo.

I’m Hadeer Shalaby, General Manager of Careem Cairo. I hold a Bachelor’s Degree in business administration and marketing from The American University in Cairo (AUC). I’ve always had a love for entrepreneurship which encouraged me to introduce the first car reservation service via phone in the North Coast through “Taxi Al Sahel”. I was then contacted by Careem co-founders to start Careem in Egypt.

What kind of obstacles do you have to challenge everyday as a GM?

We work in a very dynamic and competitive market. Of course, there are a lot of challenges, but our approach at Careem is to turn these obstacles into opportunities to expand our business and enhance the standards of services we provide. The great thing about this is that we learn something new every day and it is never boring as you keep facing different challenges with this huge rate of growth.

What makes Careem unique?

Careem is a home-grown brand; from the region, for the region and the first unicorn in the transportation industry in MENA with value exceeding USD 1 billion. When I started Careem Egypt, we were just three employees and in a matter of few years, we became 100 employees in Cairo in addition to 300 agents in our call center; we plan to grow even more. Egypt’s fleet of Captains has expediently grew to reach 50,000 out of 200,000 Captains in the whole region.  As we operate in the biggest city in the region, we always change our product based to cater to the needs of our local customers such as introducing variable payment options. Cairo also houses the region’s call center “Careem Care” serving the whole region with a current workforce of 300 agents and firm plans to increase the number to 1,000 agents by end of year.

Tell us about the story of founding AIESEC.

In 2011, I became the President and founder of AIESEC in Lebanon; the largest organization managed by youth aiming to develop youth leaders through programs in 125 countries around the world. Lebanon witnessed the fastest expansion rate in the history of AIESEC in the last 68 years. We accomplished a series of achievements with my team proudly winning the Leadership Award sponsored by ING, one of the largest banks in Europe. It was my first entrepreneurial experience. I went there knowing no one, yet I had to rally people around a vision to create a future they’ve never seen before. This was probably the most adventurous experience of my life; I came back later with hundreds of friends from Lebanon, which ever since became my second home.

Were you expecting such global success for AIESEC?

I’ve always believed in the great potentials of youth organizations. Globally, AIESEC has achieved remarkable successes for years, but it started to boom in the last seven years as growth became the key focus for the organization. The impact it had on positively changing people’s lives encouraged more people to join. Following the great success we achieved in Lebanon, I was chosen to hold the position of Entity Development Vice President, AIESEC International where I was responsible for the expansion in new countries and consultancy for more than 21 countries on growth opportunities in various sectors, as well as overseeing the peoples’ development program across the world. It’s a story definitely worth telling!

What are your keys to success?

Passion; you have to be passionate about what you do. Don't just do it for money or to make someone else happy. Always do things that will help you learn more. Whatever you know is not enough. Be good to people and good things will keep happening to you.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Self-motivation is very important; if you base your motivation on external factors, in my opinion, you will fail. You can't base it on praise from other people or money. I base my motivation on passion and what I want to accomplish. I need to have a strong reason behind “why I work, where I work and why I do what I do and how will that help me learn more and develop more”. If this reason is strong, then I don't need anything else to motivate me.

Do you have any goals you have yet to achieve?

My current goal is to make transportation in Egypt smoother and to reduce congestion in the streets.

By Rania Ihab