The Alluring Businessman
He faced many challenges, totally shifted his career, started with no experience, but this did not stop him from becoming a successful entrepreneur. He had an idea he believed in, and did not let obstacles bring him down. He worked towards his goals and reached success in creating a platform to help those who are less fortunate. Meet with us Omar Khalifa.
You are a political science graduate; why did you shift your career?
I felt that what I really wanted to do is to become a successful businessman. Politics is a double edged sword and I’m too young to get involved, business is my passion and is more interesting.
What sparked your interest in creating “Shaghalni” website?
During my years at AUC, we had employment fairs organized every semester which was a great opportunity for us to get the best jobs in the market. I thought to myself, “what about the rest of the Egyptians who don’t get the same privilege?” That’s how I started to think that I should create a strong platform for the mass.
What were the obstacles you faced in creating such a website?
It took me more than five years to be able to create the website, I went through a tough time since the 2011 revolution. My advertising company (Omedia) was in debt for three years and I wasn’t able to bounce back until 2015. Once the company was in a better position, I was able to start taking steps to create Shaghalni.
What services do you offer in your website?
We focus on the unprivileged mass who represent the majority of the Egyptian workforce. Plenty of factories have shortages and there are very few channels they can use to reach blue and grey collar jobseekers. Shaghalni serves these companies through its recruitment platform that enables them to filter jobseekers by location, job category, age, education level…etc.
Do you think that “Shaghalni” is achieving its goals?
Although I’m proud of what we have achieved to date but it’s nowhere near where we want to be. There’s still a long road ahead full of obstacles but we’re ready for the ride.
How did businessman Naguib Sawirius help you in improving your idea?
When I was looking to raise funds I approached several venture capital firms in Egypt and more than 20 companies to invest/sponsor the website so I can kick it off. Unfortunately, it was rejected by all of them. One morning I thought why not give it a shot and send an email to Orascom and introduce my idea, I did so and I was very lucky to hear back from Naguib’s office that he’s interested to know more about Shaghalni. We met and the result was that he invested in Shaghalni. I’m a strong believer of the saying: Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity.
What are the biggest issues you face running this kind of business?
It’s not a job it’s a lifestyle, it becomes something you think of 24/7 and in many cases it’s mentally draining. One day you’re on top of the moon, the other your’re doubting everything! Mental strength is a must because as a founder, you run every single part of the business, and the more the company grows, the CEO inside you needs to grow and adapt as well.
What are “Shaghalni’s” future plans?
To expand in the GCC and be the biggest recruitment platform for blue and grey collar job seekers in the region.
What is unique about your business?
It’s very satisfying, when you think about it, creating job opportunities, fights poverty, crimes, and terrorism. We’ve seen thousands of job seekers working through Shaghalni and it’s very motivating to keep going. We are very innovative when it comes to hiring solutions and to be able to get people who do not have smart phones online is one of the main challenges that we are solving these days.
What are your responsibilities as the business owner?
To what do you attribute your success?
Mental strength, belief, passion, persistence, and waking up early! My day starts at 5:30 AM so managing time is something many underestimate.
Can you give a piece of advice to young entrepreneurs?
Be courageous, dream, know that you’ll go through tough times and that no one made it easy. Focus on a good idea, implement it with a sustainable business model and investors will come to you.