One of the things that make an entrepreneur successful is his/her resourcefulness, for Omar Khalifa it was a tweet from Naguib Sawiris that changed the course of his company. The idea of his company was initially turned down by many investors. Therefore, Omar decided to create a beta version to help potential investors visualize the concept of Shaghalni.
The idea first came to him when he heard the number of Egyptians complaining about the lack of job opportunities, while business owners complained about the lack of candidates. From there, Shaghalni, an online platform connecting blue collar job seekers to employers was born. But getting to where he is today was not straightforward, Omar’s journey was filled with unexpected tops and turns.
Originally, Omar began his career working at the World Bank in 2009, before deciding it was time to start on his own and venture into media with his company O Media that same year. Taking that leap was a big risk, he tells WAYA, “My parents and friends all thought I lost my mind, when I left my job to start my own company in media, an industry I knew nothing about.”
An Unexpected Turn of Events
With O Media prospering in a short space of time, Omar had licensing deals to create Arabic content for The New York Times and The Economist before the January 2011 revolution took place. As a result, the business climate in the country had changed. Fewer people were looking to spend their money due to the level of uncertainty in the country, and unfortunately for Omar, there were debts that needed to be paid.
With EGP 600,000 in debt, Omar sold his car and began to explore new and innovative ways to make money. “When you have money and you’re not struggling, you’re subconsciously relaxed, however when you have debts to pay off, you’re forced to come up with different ways to make money,” he tells WAYA.
O Media began creating outdoor billboard advertisements, to pay off this debt, seeing that they were a much more viable revenue stream. Billboard sales were worth more than three times more than magazine advertisements.
After finally paying off his debts and stabilizing his company, Omar decided it was time to start the blue and grey collar platform.
The Tweet that Started Shaghalni
Omar’s advert use of Twitter allowed him to find a tweet by Naguib Sawiris where he had given out a generic email for people to pitch their business ideas. Not expecting anything to come out of the email Omar sent the business guru the plan for Shaghalni. Shortly after Omar received a reply with a meeting date. He went into the meeting, pitched Shaghalni, and Sawiris ended up investing in the platform.
He went on to create strategic partnerships with the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Victory Link, Shaghalni has a database of 1.5 million people, with clients such as Orange, Danone, Spinneys, Mansour Group, RAYA, Aman, Egyserv, Unilever, and Talaat Moustafa Group. Furthermore, the company works with the Takaful and Karama initiative to help the families in need find prospective employment opportunities.
Shaghalni is working on growing its database through its many kiosk points placed, which they place in strategic locations. The kiosk points allow users to register and create their profile on the platform in 5 minutes.
Omar’s aim for Shaghalni is to tackle unemployment, while growing the company at steady and sustainable pace. He wants to ensure the quality of his platform remains high and for Shaghalni to create the best possible matches.
“Most investors are looking to invest in companies that expect a large market share and rapid growth. However, we look for investors that share our vision of being profitable and growing rather than purely focusing on market share,” he told WAYA.
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