November ‘14
Insight Interview

November ‘14
Mai Abdel Asim
Mai Abdel Asim


She's a supermom, a loving wife and one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the publishing and digital media field. Mai Abdel Asim, the Founder and Managing Editor of What Women Want'¦Magazine and the Managing Director of Media & More, is the example to look after!

What can you tell us about yourself?

Well, I am the mother of two beautiful girls, a wife to a great husband and have the luxury to have a fantastic job and calling. I am the Founder and Managing Editor of What Women Want'¦Magazine and the Managing Director of Media & More, a digital media agency.

What inspired you to start 'What Women Want'¦Magazine'?

It somehow just happened, no spectacular story behind it to be told. I guess it was the passion for editorial and wanting to start something of my own and the rest just happened. It was more a jump into the cold water rather than rock solid business planning, now we are 8 years older and wiser and I am grateful that we are still around given the tough economic circumstances that print media is facing. Media & More started as a by product of the magazine, when clients began asking for marketing activations and ideas, so I thought we might as well charge for that and do it in a more professional set up, so Media & More came to life as a full service creative boutique offering different marketing services. In 2009 we launched a digital media department, which is now they key focus of the agency, handling social media for reputable clients in Egypt. In 2010 we launched 'The Travel Mag', as the only travel magazine in Egypt. Unfortunately, we had to put in on hold since the revolution as the travel and tourism sector is suffering a great deal. I hope that we can re-launch it soon.

Why 'What Women Want'?

You mean the name? I would love to have a great story behind it but honestly we were preparing a presentation about the magazine for the zero issue and had to be ready for a client meeting the next day, so we came up with 'What Women Want'¦Magazine' as we couldn't send the proposal without a name, I mean who would take us seriously without a name? (Laughs) So, fact is this is exactly what happened in terms of naming my firstborn.

How can you describe 'What Women Want's' successful journey?

It is a constant roller coaster ride with ups and downs full of different learning experiences and for me personally one of the most exciting phases of my life. It is like I grew older with it, it has been part of my life for 8 years now. It is an overwhelming feeling to watch my firstborn grow and evolve. It is also great to see my team developing and growing into it, adding their own twist and fingerprints, which creates this interesting blend. We also really love what we do and I believe that this shows. I am very proud of my team, which is lead by Senior Editor Reem Gamil, who is fabulous, authentic and genuine. What more can I possibly ask for?

You're a super mum and the Managing Editor of one of the most successful magazines in the business, what's your secret?

I am not a Super Mom '˜º but I would like to think that all moms are Super Moms. I have a great support system around me. On professional level I have the best team ever, we are like family and think alike. On personal level my husband, sister and parents are my safety net, which allows me to juggle many balls in the air at the same time. I guess I am very lucky to have all these great people around me, who make it easier to be myself and pursue what I love.

As an entrepreneur, what are the challenges that face you in the business?

Well, being a law abiding Egyptian citizen is a challenge in itself, add to that being an entrepreneur, and the mess is complete. I think the biggest challenge is that there is no entrepreneur friendly business environment in Egypt. We are not supported to grow but rather face loads of red tape and corruption to get things done the 'right' way. A lot has to change in that regard.

What's your advice for the young entrepreneurs who aim to follow your path?

Choose something you love; that is the biggest luxury you will afford yourself ever. Work hard, always look ahead on your goal and never waste time looking left or right on what others do, it will slow you down and suck your energy. Always stick to your principles and integrity; no money is worth compromising. Try your best, fail and try again. It is completely ok.

'What Women Want' stands alone in the publishing field with its bold (sometimes shocking), out of the box topics. What are you rebelling against?

Oh wow, thanks that is a nice compliment '˜º

What do we still need to do to gain equal rights under the male domination?

I think we need to start raising our sons differently. I believe that the patriarchal society is safeguarded by women, who raise their daughters to comply and their sons to do as they please. It starts with 'make your brother some tea' which is just a tiny example of male domination and female submission rooted in most families. We need lobby for rights that empower women and set them as equal to men in all aspects of public life.

What does May Abdel Asim want?

I want so many things. I want everything. I want to keep doing what I do. I want to be a good mother to my kids and I always want more. I want to be happy, healthy and be a free spirit.

The one thing I can't live without'¦. I have to admit it is my phone as shallow as it may sound.

By Rania Ihab