December ‘16
Online Shopping Market

December ‘16
Omar Elsahy
Omar Elsahy


    


There’s nothing like spending a lazy Friday scrolling through Souq.com because most of us are too indolent to actually drive ourselves to the mall. If you’re wondering what makes the business so great, it’s the excellent team that manages it; Omar Elsahy has been running Souq.com Egypt the past four years and he’s here to talk about how he made it as General Manager for Egypt in the Middle East’s largest online retail platform.

Tell us about yourself and your business.

I became General Manager of Souq.com Egypt around four years ago, making use of a decade of management, outsourcing and e-commerce business development experience. Prior to Souq.com, I founded and managed multiple e-commerce business ventures. Before entering the e-commerce industry, I co-founded E Group Corp, a US-based outsourcing company with operations in Cairo, Egypt. In parallel I was Managing Partner for Ice Watch Egypt, an Endeavor Egypt mentor, as well as a consultant with Silatech - an NGO that provides financing and business development support to regional SMEs in order to create sustainable employment and entrepreneurship opportunities for young Arabs. My motivation is my family and my purpose is to create and contribute real impact in the region. Souq.com is the largest online retail and marketplace platform in the Arab world, featuring more than 1.5 million products across 31 categories such as consumer electronics, fashion, health, beauty, household goods, and more. Today, Souq.com attracts over 45 million visits per month, with localized operations in the KSA, UAE and Egypt. Our business offers a convenient and safe online shopping experience with secure online payments, options to pay cash on delivery and free returns. 


What inspired you to join Souq.com?

I had the privilege to join to Souq.com in its early days in Egypt as General Manager. The inspiration to become part of the team was completely built around the company’s purpose of channelling the power of technology to connect people to more products and to lock possibilities and improve the quality of life across our region.


What separates your brand from its competition?

It’s a home-grown brand and is an excellent marketplace platform with an exceptionally brilliant team and strong company values.


What’s the secret to your success? How did you manage to get so far? 

Success comes from being willing to try something different that creates real impact, consistent absolute focus, and loving what you do. One can only get there by two things, be willing to say no to many things & building a world class team that shares the same vision.


What were the biggest obstacles you had to face to get where you are now?

Becoming too absorbed into daily life and losing sight of the bigger scope. Any fear or worry of obstacles is easily managed but never fully removed. This only happens when we replace it with passion to achieve what we set ourselves to do. I typically remind myself my favourite quote from the song ‘Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)’ – “Don’t worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum.”


What is one thing you wish you knew before you started from square one? 

Hindsight assessment is deceiving, as one would not have the knowledge to comprehend the impact of any past decisions or learning from previous failures. As such – I would do exactly the same once again. Perhaps a few minor modifications to obvious decisions from the earlier days.


What did you do whenever you started to lose hope?

I take a step back. Shake the pessimism the hell off and got back into the ring.


How do you manage to juggle between your business and personal life?

Work doesn’t affect your personal life. Luckily, I am blessed with an amazing family that supports my work as part of my lifestyle. I get a daily one hour ‘me’ time during a 5:30 AM run and I try to travel to as many different parts of the world as I can, whenever time allows it.


If you were not involved in this field, what else could you be doing now?

Technology and Internet have become part of my DNA. I would be happy to work in any field where I get to utilize tech in something that has purpose, scalable growth, and will help impact knowledge, convenience, and a better quality life for our region.


By Rania Ihab