Thursday, 9 September 2021

MNT-Halan announces blockbuster USD 120 mn fintech round

TL;DR

WHAT WE’RE TRACKING TODAY

Good morning ladies and gents — we have a jam-packed issue for you to close out the week so let’s jump into it.

WHAT’S HAPPENING TODAY-

Inflation data lands today: The Central Bank of Egypt will publish inflation figures for August this morning. Price growth has crept up over the past several months, reaching 5.4% in July — a 2021 high albeit one that fell below analysts’ expectations, some of whom were expecting a figure closer to 6%.

The Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF) wraps up today at the Nile Ritz-Carlton in Cairo. Hosted by the International Cooperation Ministry, the conference will bring together representatives from African and Arab governments, leading Egyptian and international businesses and banks, multilateral lenders, and international institutions including the UN, World Bank, OECD to discuss international development issues such as climate change and the pandemic. Check out the agenda here (pdf)

It’s the final day of the Egy Health Expo at the Al Manara International Conference Center.

It’s day five of the Arab Labor Conference, which is running through to 12 September at the InterContinental CityStars Hotel in Heliopolis. Government officials, ambassadors, trade union reps and business owners’ association delegates from 21 Arab countries are participating in the gathering.

LATER THIS WEEK AND NEXT-

Israeli PM to visit Cairo next week? This is according to Axios’ Barak Ravid, who reports that Naftali Bennett will make an official diplomatic visit to Egypt next week for talks with President Abdel Fattah El Sisi.

This would be the first official visit to Egypt by an Israeli leader in more than a decade:

The official visit would mark a rare occasion in regional diplomacy and a first for El Sisi. The last Egyptian president to host an Israeli prime minister was Hosni Mubarak, who met Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2011, just a few weeks before the revolution forced Mubarak out of office. Israeli media reports in 2018 claimed that Netanyahu made a secret visit to meet with El Sisi in Sharm El Sheikh.

The rumored visit comes amid reports that Egypt is preparing a new roadmap to restart Israel-Palestine peace talks, while cordial bilateral relations have recently been on public display. The Egyptian president in August extended the invitation to Bennett to visit, before earlier this week calling Israeli President Isaac Herzog to wish him a happy Rosh Hashanah.

ALSO:

  • New school year: International schools begin the 2021-2022 academic year on Sunday, 12 September.
  • EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference runs 13-21 September with the theme of “After Reflation – FEMs in 2022.”
  • Sahara Expo: The four-day agricultural conference, the Sahara Expo, will start on Sunday at the Egypt International Exhibition Center.
  • AmCham event: Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will give a speech on strategies for generating green, private sector-led growth at AmCham’s virtual monthly event on Monday, 13 September. Register here.
  • Interest rates: The Central Bank of Egypt will meet to review interest rates on Thursday, 16 September.

Check out our full calendar on the web for a comprehensive listing of upcoming news events, national holidays and news triggers.


THE BIG BUSINESS STORY INTERNATIONALLY-

Bill Gates has taken a controlling stake in the Four Seasons hotel chain in a USD 2.2 bn agreement with Saudi royal Prince Alwaleed bin Talal. Gates upped his stake from 47.5% to 71.25% in the first big transaction he’s made since his high-profile divorce from Melinda French Gates, valuing the company at USD 10 bn enterprise value. Alwaleed shared ownership of the company with Gates for over a decade, but is better known for his association with another luxury hotel: he was among those detained at the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s dramatic anti-corruption crackdown in 2018. Everyone from Bloomberg and Reuters to the Financial Times and Forbes has the story.

***IN CASE YOU MISSED IT-

  • Time to dust the cobwebs off that privatization plan: Two or three public sector firms could offer stakes on the EGX before the end of 2021, Planning Minister Hala El Said said on the first day of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF) yesterday.
  • Calling all iSheep: Apple wants more of your money and is going to have some shiny new (read: slightly-updated) things for you to buy. Announcement coming Tuesday.
  • Investors, execs, narcotraficantes: El Salvador wants you.

enterprise

INVESTMENT WATCH

MNT-Halan announces blockbuster USD 120 mn fintech round

MNT-Halan has closed what we believe is the largest fintech round ever to take place in MENA, raising c. USD 120 mn from a group of investors that includes financial services-focused PE house Apis, the UK’s Development Partners International (DPI) and Lorax Capital Partners, the group said in a statement. The funds will be used to help the company roll out new products, sharply grow its user base, and expand into new markets outside of Egypt. The story is getting plenty of digital ink this morning everywhere from Reuters to TechCrunch.

The company currently has 1 mn monthly active users and serves over 4 mn clients, 1.8 mn of whom are borrowers. MNT-Halan has disbursed more than USD 1.7 bn worth of loans and has a monthly throughput of USD 100 mn.

The size of the round underscores investor confidence in Egypt, Halan founder and CEO Mounir Nakhla told us yesterday. “These negotiations started pre-covid, continued during covid and finally closed with the post-covid era in sight. Bringing in this suite of global investors with a focus on fintech and emerging markets shows enormous trust not only in our company, our team and the strategy MNT-Halan is rolling out in the market, but also in Egypt as an investment destination.”

Halan aims to grow its user base 10x in the coming years — and to expand into both African and select Asian markets, Nakhla said. “Our target countries all have large populations and underbanked populations. Since well before the 18 months it took us to put this transaction together, we’ve been building tech assets that are now starting to come to market. We’re building a digital financial ecosystem for merchants and customers that are usually unbanked, offering lending, payments, BNPL and and e-commerce platform support by a whole logistics operation.”

Halan already acquired 100% of Raseedy, the first independent and interoperable digital wallet in Egypt licensed by the Central Bank of Egypt. It has also obtained micro, consumer and nano finance licenses from the Financial Regulatory Authority.

By our math, the transaction makes MNT-Halan the most-funded fintech player in the Arab world, a title previously held by Tabby in the UAE, which has raised a total of USD 132 mn after a USD 50 mn round. MNT-Halan is also backed by several venture capital firms including Algebra Ventures, DisrupTech, Endeavor Catalyst, Egypt Ventures, MEVP and Wamda. (Hit the statement above for a full list of the company’s investors.)

Global investors in this round say they’re attracted to Egypt by the size of the nation’s market — and the vast potential presented by >100 mn under- and / or un-banked people. Halan is the first investment in Egypt for Apis, a specialist financial services private equity house that manages or advises on total committed capital from investors of USD 1.2 bn.

What led Apis to buy in? MNT-Halan is a fintech player with a great management team, Abou Moussa told us, adding that Egypt “is a big economy, with a large population, a high and growing smartphone penetration rate, a digitalizing economy — yet, one that is still substantially under-banked. These growth drivers are complemented by the Egyptian government’s and regulators’ support for financial inclusion and digitalization of the economy,” Apis Partner Hossam Abou Moussa told us.

Halan is also attracting repeat investment: This is the second time that DPI, a leading UK-based investor in Egypt, has backed Nakhla. “We’ve been invested with Mounir and his team since 2018 and they’ve delivered fantastic results,” DPI Principal Ziad Abaza told Enterprise yesterday. “The transformation and growth of the company is what led us to reinvest with MNT-Halan in this round with our new fund. The fundamentals of the Egyptian market continue to support the growth of this fantastic fintech story and ecosystem the MNT-Halan team are creating. Their target market is under penetrated, from loans to payment solutions, and we really like the trajectory we see unfolding in the coming years. Egypt is a key market for DPI,” he said. The firm has total AUM of USD 2 bn across three funds. Together with its investors, it has deployed more than USD 350 mn in Egypt over the past five years

Digital financial services has been taking Egypt by storm, and investors have been taking note: Moneyfellows, which has digitized the concept of ‘Gameya’ had raised around USD 7 mn as of earlier this year and it is eyeing MENA expansion, while e-payment platform Fawry became the first Egyptian tech company to achieve a USD 1 bn market cap last year.

The regional fintech sector has seen significant growth over the past two years, last year the sector saw a major increase in demand, attributed to the pandemic, with 63 VC outfits investing in mobile and online payment solutions in the MENA region. Egypt, along with the UAE and Saudi Arabia, led the boom in e-commerce in the region last year, which subsequently led to growth in the delivery and online payment sectors, with fintech investments across the MENA more than doubling to USD 78 mn in 2020.

MEANWHILE- Apis has made good on its March 2021 promise to have a presence in Cairo. “We are also increasing our on-the-ground presence with new investment professionals joining the Apis team. We continue to be excited by the market opportunity in the Egyptian financial services sector and looking forward to using our global and EM financial services investing expertise to add value to and support Egyptian fintech businesses,” Abou Moussa said.

ADVISORS- White & Case, Freshfields, Lexence, and Mattouk Bassiouny & Hennawy served as legal advisors on the transaction.

CAPITAL MARKETS

Our debt may not become Euroclearable until 2022 + S&P says foreign holdings hit new record high

Our debt may not become Euroclearable until 2022: The Finance Ministry will likely miss its target of making local Egyptian debt “Euroclearable” by November as talks drag on for longer than anticipated, Reuters reports. The government was originally expecting to have wrapped up technical discussions with Euroclear between September and November but according to statements made by Finance Minister Mohamed Maait yesterday it may now have to wait until 2022 as the ministry continues working to meet the European clearinghouse’s requirements.

Making EGP bonds more accessible: Egypt signed an agreement with Euroclear in late 2019 that paved the way for its local debt to be cleared in Europe. This will make EGP bonds more accessible to foreign investors, who can currently only access the market through a small number of local banks. Since then, Egypt has been working to meet the clearinghouse’s requirements, including setting up a central securities depository in addition to a number of technical, logistical and administrative terms.

We could be looking at March 2022: Speaking on the sidelines of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum, Maait said yesterday that Egypt has now satisfied 95% of the requirements, and that a final agreement may be reached in the coming months. "We hope that in the coming few months it will be sorted out … It might be March next year, I'm not sure," he said.

JPMorgan could make its final decision on whether to reinclude Egyptian debt in its EM sovereign bond index in the next week or two, a move that is expected to bring an additional USD 1.4-2.2 bn of portfolio inflows into the Egyptian treasury market.

The US investment bank is currently reviewing whether to include Egyptian bonds on the index and said in April it would make a final decision within six months. The government will take part in a conference call in mid-September to discuss the bank’s decision, Maait said yesterday.


Foreign holdings in Egyptian debt hit a record USD 33 bn in early August, continuing their rebound following the covid-induced market crash last year, according to a recent report from S&P Global Ratings. Prior to covid, foreign holdings had risen to around USD 28 bn before falling to as low as USD 10 bn during the emerging-market sell-off triggered by the initial wave of the pandemic.


A USD 1 bn sukuk issuance? The Finance Ministry could go ahead with a USD 1 bn issuance of Islamic bonds in the near future, Maait said, adding that the exact value of the government offering had not yet been determined, according to Hapi Journal. The news comes after the ministry last month announced that it is preparing to issue its first tranche of sovereign sukuk in the second half of FY2021-2022.

This is less than half of the USD 2 bn figure floated by the minister earlier this year.

But take this with a pinch of salt: Maait reiterated yesterday that the exact value of the offering has not yet been decided.

In any case, we probably shouldn’t expect a blockbuster maiden issuance: “We don’t plan to make large issuances until we hold the necessary experience,” he said yesterday.

ENERGY

Egypt to re-export natural gas to crisis-hit Lebanon

Egypt will export natural gas to Lebanon via a pipeline running through Jordan and Syria following an agreement to help relieve the fuel shortage currently paralysing Lebanon. In a meeting hosted by Jordan yesterday, the four countries agreed to bring online the Arab Gas Pipeline, which will be used to feed a power plant in the north of the country.

Lebanon is suffering crippling electricity shortages after its central bank lifted fuel subsidies last month as the country grapples with a devastating economic crisis. The country’s plummeting currency and stricken financial system has left it unable to import enough fuel to keep the lights on, and power cuts and surging fuel costs have disrupted even vital services such as hospitals. The country’s energy ministry hopes that the gas supplies will enable it to generate 450 MW of power and is in talks with the World Bank to receive funding, the country’s energy minister Raymond Ghajar said at the presser.

But there’s no word yet on when the gas might start being pumped: Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said the government hopes to start pumping “as soon as possible” but didn’t give an idea on when the pipeline may be brought back online, and said that some clauses of the preexisting contract need to be reviewed, without disclosing further information. Maintenance work is needed to get the 20-year-old pipeline up and running, which has been inactive since 2010 and has been subject to frequent attacks through the Syrian civil war. Jordanian Energy Minister Hala Al Zawati indicated that this could be finished in just three weeks, telling reporters yesterday that “it is almost ready… some things here and there need fixing.”

A potential complication: The US, which had been spearheading the plan, could have its hands tied by sanctions it imposed on the Syrian government in 2011. Lebanese officials are making appeals to Washington to make an exception.

Egypt and Jordan are both founding members of the East Mediterranean Gas Forum (EMGF) and have agreed to cooperate on technical and commercial exchange, infrastructure development, and financing facilitation in the regional gas sector.

The story is also getting international attention: Reuters | Associated Press | The National.

TOURISM

Colliers still optimistic on Egypt hotel recovery

Colliers International maintained its optimistic forecast for Egypt’s hotel occupancy in its September report on MENA hotels (pdf). All four Egyptian tourism destinations listed — Cairo, Sharm El Sheikh, Hurghada and Alexandria — are expected to witness continued growth in occupancy this year despite some modest revisions in Alexandria and Sharm El Sheikh hotel occupancy for the year.

Occupancy in Sharm is forecast to reach 45% over the year and witness a total 96% occupancy growth y-o-y, marking a 3 percentage point increase in occupancy rates from Colliers’ August report. Hurghada occupancy has been revised downwards by 1 point to a total annual occupancy rate of 50%. Occupancy is still expected to grow by 111% this year despite the slight downward revision from Colliers’ August hotels report.

Cairo figures are looking better than they have in previous months, with occupancy rates expected to reach 52%, up 91% y-o-y and a three-point increase from August’s 49% occupancy projection. In Alexandria, anticipated occupancy rates have remained steady at 57% — the same figure the organization had estimated for the Mediterranean city last month, which was revised downwards by 1 point from July. Overall, Alexandria is still expected to see a modest 26% growth in hotel occupancy this year.

Bear this in mind: The government had set a 50% limit on hotel occupancy last year as part of its covid-19 precautionary measures, which will have artificially kept rates muted. This was raised to 70% in July, allowing for more growth in the sector.

The tourism industry in Egypt has gotten several major boosts in past months: The return of direct Russian flights to Red Sea resorts last month after a six year hiatus is expected to bring an influx of occupants to Red Sea hotels. The Swiss also followed suit, resuming direct flights to Sharm El Sheikh earlier this week.

M&A WATCH

Speed Medical pays shareholders EGP 4 mn to extend acquisition timeline

Speed Medical announced that it had paid New Al Safwa Specialized Hospital’s shareholders EGP 4 mn in June as part of compensation for the months delay on the transaction, the company said in a bourse filing (pdf). The company said it had paid the amount to a representative of the sellers to secure their agreement to extend the terms of the transaction, which is being held up by a delay in obtaining health ministry approvals.

The company also confirmed that it would be upping its initial EGP 185 mn offer by an amount equivalent to the interest rate on the 185 mn figure during the period from 1 March until the transaction is complete, after sellers voiced complaints about the slowness of the regulatory approvals from the ministry.

Speed Medical’s subsidiary Speed Hospitals wants at least 51% of Al Safwa, as well as management rights, with the rest of the equity to be owned by other investors including a 4.4% stake for sister company Prime Speed Medical Services.

Speed Hospitals already has post-acquisition plans including raising Al Safwa Hospital’s capacity to 150 beds from its current 67. Speed Medical is also looking to list its hospitals arm on the EGX sometime within the coming three years.

Speed Medical has been facing heat recently: Yesterday, the company was fined EGP 200k by the IPO Committee for once again violating article 34 of the EGX’s rules for listing, which states that any company listed on the market has to disclose any essential information with the EGX, which will then share said information on its trading screens and official website. The company also threatened legal action against any media outlet that shares allegations made by unnamed shareholders, who accused the company of market manipulation.

DIPLOMACY

Looks like Egypt and Turkey are on speaking terms again

Egypt and Turkey failed to find a breakthrough in diplomatic talks this week aimed at normalizing relations following eight years of hostility. Further steps are needed before diplomatic relations can be upgraded and consultations will continue in search of a solution, Deputy Foreign Minister Hamdy Loza and his Turkish counterpart Sedat Onal said in a joint statement after talks in Ankara wrapped up yesterday. The discussions covered a number of issues including Libya, the Eastern Mediterranean, Syria and Palestine, the statement said.

No sign of ambassadorial appointments just yet: In a televised interview with Bloomberg on Wednesday (watch, runtime: 5:35), Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry said that diplomatic ties could not be restored until “certain measures that were taken by Turkey” had been addressed, adding that “… when we are satisfied that those issues have been resolved, that will open the door for further progress.” Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu had told Turkish state TV on Tuesday that “If we decide together after the meetings, we will take the necessary mutual steps to appoint an ambassador.”

The talks come amid a thaw in tensions between Turkey and the UAE, and attempts by Ankara to mend relations with another of its long-standing regional rivals, Saudi Arabia.

MOVES

Khaled Hegazy (LinkedIn) has been appointed as chief business officer at Etisalat Misr, anonymous sources tell local media. Hegazy has more than 12 years of experience in the telecom industry, and served as the company’s chief corporate affairs officer for almost five years prior to his new position. Hegazy will begin his position on 1 October, and succeeds Khaled Zian (LinkedIn).

Prime Fintech has appointed Fady Rafla (LinkedIn) as the company’s managing director, according to Hapi Journal. Rafla was previously chief digital information officer at Prime Fintech factoring and leasing arm Endorse. Shereen Altaher (LinkedIn) has been tapped as managing director of Endorse, and succeeds Mervat Erian (LinkedIn) who has stepped down as CEO and managing director.

KUDOS

Law firms Matouk Bassiouny & Hennawy and Matouk Bassiouny UAE have been shortlisted for six awards at the IFLR Middle East Awards 2021, according to a press release (pdf). The nominations include M&A transaction of the year for their work as Egyptian counsel to First Abu Dhabi Bank on its acquisition of Bank Audi’s subsidiary in Egypt.

The ICT Ministry has partnered with Amazon subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS) to offer 500 scholarships for professional training in big data and analytics. Trainees will study online in courses designed by AWS for a professional certificate that ICT Minister Amr Talaat said would be recognized globally.

enterprise

ENTERPRISE+: LAST NIGHT’S TALK SHOWS

Attempts to revive the Arab Gas Pipeline in order to pump gas to crisis-stricken Lebanon were at the top of the agenda of last night’s talk shows. In a joint press conference between the Egyptian, Jordanian, Syrian and Lebanese energy ministers, Egyptian Oil Minister Tarek El Molla said that the meeting aimed to set out a roadmap for the coming weeks to coordinate work to get the pipeline up and running. He added that technical work would be carried out on the pipeline's infrastructure, while some clauses of the preexisting contract also need to be reviewed. Ala Mas’ouleety (watch, runtime: 4:25) and Al Hayah Al Youm (watch, runtime: 2:28 | 2:43) had the story. We have the full story in this morning’s Speed Round, above.

The government will announce which company will be handed the contract to redevelop Tahrir Square’s Mogamma by the end of the month, Planning Minister Hala El Said said on the sidelines of the Egypt-International Cooperation Forum yesterday. The decision will be made following a week of meetings to judge the bids submitted by four separate consortiums of local and Arab companies to develop and run the Mogamma site in partnership with the state. Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 1:01) had the details.

Meanwhile, Masaa DMC (watch, runtime: 3:18) and Yahduth Fi Masr (watch, runtime: 8:01) also featured star Portuguese coach Carlos Queiroz’s appointment as Egypt’s manager, replacing Hossam El Badry, who was sacked after Sunday’s tie with Gabon.

EGYPT IN THE NEWS

Egypt just appointed a superstar football coach to head the national team: Former Real Madrid boss, Man United assistant coach, and Portuguese manager Carlos Queiroz has been appointed Egypt’s new coach, after the sacking of Hossam El Badry earlier this week.

The news tops the coverage in the foreign press this morning: AFP | CNN | BBC | Goal | Bein Sports.

COVID WATCH

Egypt has handed out 11 mn covid shots – Zayed

The government has handed out a total of 11 mn covid shots since it started its vaccination program in January, Health Ministry Hala Zayed said during a cabinet meeting yesterday. The minister didn’t disclose how many people have now been fully vaccinated and how many have received the first dose.

In detail: More than 2 mn covid vaccines have been distributed to public sector administrative workers, including some 600k employees in the Education Ministry who received jabs during the past two weeks, Zayed said. Half a mn doses have been delivered for universities, and another 500k others will be delivered next week, she said. Higher Education Minister Khaled Abdel Ghaffar said during the meeting that 154.5k doses had been administered at university vaccine centers by Tuesday, 80% of which were first doses.

New vaccination targets: The government — which recently made vaccination compulsory for education, health and administrative workers — last month announced ambitious targets to hand at least one dose of a vaccine to some 35 mn people over the coming three months. The plan would see more than half of the 60 mn people eligible for vaccination receive a shot.

The Health Ministry reported 399 new covid-19 infections yesterday, up from 378 the day before. Egypt has now disclosed a total of 291,172 confirmed cases of covid-19. The ministry also reported 13 new deaths, bringing the country’s total death toll to 16,824.

PLANET FINANCE

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BTC will double in value and hit USD 100k by early 2022, a Standard Chartered research team is predicting, Reuters reports. “BTC may become the dominant peer-to-peer payment method for the global unbanked in a future cashless world,” the team said in a note sent to clients. BTC’s value sat steady yesterday after a major selloff on Tuesday triggered by El Salvador’s adoption of the tokens as a legal tender, which left the cryptocurrency down 10%.

Up

EGX30

11,135

+0.4% (YTD: +2.7%)

None

USD (CBE)

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

USD at CIB

Buy 15.66

Sell 15.76

None

Interest rates CBE

8.25% deposit

9.25% lending

Up

Tadawul

11,455

+0.4% (YTD: +31.8%)

Up

ADX

7,771

+0.7% (YTD: +54.0%)

Down

DFM

2,906

-0.1% (YTD: +16.6%)

Down

S&P 500

4,514

-0.1% (YTD: +20.2%)

Down

FTSE 100

7,095

-0.8% (YTD: +9.8%)

Up

Brent crude

USD 72.60

+1.3%

Up

Natural gas (Nymex)

USD 4.92

+7.5%

Down

Gold

USD 1,791.60

-0.1%

Down

BTC

USD 46,655

-0.6% (as of midnight)

THE CLOSING BELL-

The EGX30 rose 0.4% at yesterday’s close on turnover of EGP 1.4 bn (81% below the 90-day average). Egyptian investors were net buyers. The index is up 2.7% YTD.

In the green: Speed Medical (+2.6%), Orascom Development Egypt (+2.6%) and Oriental Weavers (+2.5%).

In the red: Raya (-2.7%), Sidi Kerir Petrochemicals (-1.5%) and CIRA (-1.2%).

Asian markets are up/down in early trading this morning and futures suggest xx

MY MORNING ROUTINE

Heba Shunbo, co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Heba Shunbo, podcaster, author and co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies.

Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Heba Shunbo. I’m the co-founder of The Four Fat Ladies, a podcaster, and the author of the newly published book, Mommy’s Happy Hour, which shares the same title with my podcast. I'm a mother of three-and-a-half-year-old twins. Since 2015, I’ve been mainly focused on The Four Fat Ladies, but interior design has been my passion since 2006. I’ve also been loving my recently discovered hobby: my podcast, Mommy’s Happy Hour, which was the natural follow up to my book.

Though I’m juggling several projects, my main focus is still The Four Fat Ladies. I'm the co-founder along with my two sisters. We always had a passion for baking and it's very dear to our hearts, so in 2012, we decided to open a bakery together. My oldest sister doesn’t live here, so her role in the business is limited, and my younger sister and I mainly manage the business. We've hit many milestones, and we partnered up with TBS in 2015. But we have more plans for 2022.

And the fourth lady? Is our mother.

My book, as the title suggests, revolves around motherhood: It is very much about surviving the first year of motherhood because for me, it was really tough. I had postpartum depression, a topic that people generally do not talk about. The book was my cathartic journey through my depression; it was my way of expressing myself through humor.

I’m an introvert, but I'm very open about my life in my podcast and my book. I had suffered from infertility for many years. My goal was to have kids, but when I finally did get pregnant — at the age of 41 — I realized that it wasn't a happily-ever-after story. I didn't want to seem unappreciative, but at times, I was just having a hard time. My book and podcast made me realize there's nothing wrong with being vulnerable.

Season 1 of my podcast: I dropped 16 episodes in season one, which I had to fit in between all my other work, The Four Fat Ladies, interior design projects, being a new mother, a wife, etc. For my podcast, I interview different women from around the globe to talk about how, as women, we strike that balance between the many different roles we play, all while maintaining our sanity. For some of the episodes, I thought it would be fun to add a male perspective, and so I invited my husband to co-host with me.

I'm launching season 2 on 15 September with a “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus” type interview. Both my husband and I co-host this episode and our guests, Farah & Yehia are a couple who have happily decided not to have kids. We talk about our differences and similarities, and tackle other hush-hush topics. My aim is to get a dialogue going about taboo topics that people shy away from, in a more creative and fun way.

I'm part of The 5am Club, but I’m not diehard. I fall off the wagon at times and then I get back on it. I love to get that hour of alone time in the morning before my kids are up, I find time to meditate, read something interesting and do some journaling. I usually work out or do yoga. I’m definitely a morning person.

My average day at work involves the same thing most of the time. I've been doing this for six years, so I know what to expect. When I’m at the office, we troubleshoot any problems, we work within a team, make sure sales and managers are okay, and handle complaints. We focus on the seasons, during which we launch new products and come up with new marketing campaigns and brand stores. Our main season is fall and Christmas, which is my personal favorite time of year, and it's always a chance to come up with new products. This past summer we had the chance to set up our fridges in Total Gas stations in Marina 4 and 5, and also launched our ice cream product this summer, which is a nice addition that complements the rest of our menu.

My moments of creativity come in spurts. Some people can push themselves, but I can't. It has to come naturally. When it came to writing my book, it took me a very long time to get the ball rolling. I knew what I wanted to write, but wasn't sure exactly where to start. I wrote and rewrote the first two chapters over the course of four months. But once I got the style done, then it flowed pretty well and I finally finished the book within four months.

WFH made me depressed actually, because for me, I had my kids and everything else at home. I needed a break. I needed to get out of the house. I most definitely need the balance between getting work done and getting some downtime. When the pandemic happened, my kids were two and a half, so there was a lot of chaos at home. It was very difficult to focus or switch off. When I lose focus, I must get out and connect with a friend or family member.

There are so many books that I would recommend. I love Robin Sharma's The 5 AM Club. I loved Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert that I read just recently. The last book I read was Brene Brown's Daring Greatly. My favorite book is The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. I love Lewis Howes’ podcast the School of Greatness. Jenna Kutcher has her Goal Digger podcast, which is also great. I am currently reading Bn USD Whale by Tom Wright and Bradley Hope, which is one of the most gripping true stories I’ve ever read, it’s insane!

You'll never be ready to have kids — whether you’re in your 20s or your 40s, that’s the best piece of advice that I got from my sister. I always wanted to be completely ready, but apparently it's never the perfect time. Another piece of advice that I follow more as I’ve gone into my forties is the quote by Rober Schuller; “better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.” And it's so true, as I prefer to move than to just stand still waiting for everything to align perfectly, which most likely will never happen.

CALENDAR

5-12 September (Sunday-Sunday): Arab Labor Conference, the InterContinental CityStars Hotel, Cairo, Egypt.

7-9 September (Tuesday-Thursday): Egy Health Expo, Al Manara International Conference, Cairo, Egypt.

8-9 September (Wednesday-Thursday): Egypt-International Cooperation Forum (ICF), Cairo

11-12 September (Saturday-Sunday): International Conferences on Economics and Social Sciences, Cairo

12 September (Sunday): International schools begin 2021-2022 academic year.

12-15 September (Sunday-Wednesday): Sahara Expo: the 33rd International Agricultural Exhibition for Africa and the Middle East.

13 September (Monday): Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad will give a guest speech at AmCham’s monthly virtual event,

13-21 September (Monday-Tuesday): EFG Hermes’ fourth Virtual Investor Conference.

14-30 September (Tuesday-Thursday): 76th session of the UN General Assembly, New York.

15 September (Wednesday): The CFO Leadership & Strategy Summit is taking place in Egypt.

16 September (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

18 September (Saturday): Expiration of United Nations Investigative Team to Promote Accountability for Crimes Committed by Daesh/ISIL

21-22 September (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

22-25 September (Wednesday-Saturday): Cityscape Egypt, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

29 September (Wednesday): DevOpsDays Cairo 2021 is being organized by ITIDA and the Software Engineering Competence Center in cooperation with DXC Technology, IBM Egypt and Orange Labs.

30 September-2 October (Thursday-Saturday): Egypt Projects 2021 expo, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September-8 October (Thursday-Friday): The Cairo International Fair, Cairo International Conference Center, Cairo, Egypt.

30 September: Closing of 2021’s first oil and gas tender in the Gulf of Suez, Western Desert, and the Mediterranean.

October: New legislative session begins — must be held by the first Thursday of October.

October: Romanian President Klaus Iohannis could visit Egypt in mid this month to discuss ways to boost tourism cooperation between the two countries.

1 October (Friday): Businesses importing goods at seaports will need to file shipping documents and cargo data digitally to the Advance Cargo Information (ACI) system.

1 October (Friday): Expo 2020 Dubai opens.

1 October (Friday): State-owned companies and government service bodies selling goods and services to customers that have not yet signed on to the e-invoicing platform will suffer a host of penalties, including removal from large taxpayer classification, losing access to government services and business, and losing subsidies.

6 October (Wednesday): Armed Forces Day.

7 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of Armed Forces Day.

9 October (Saturday): Public schools begin 2021-2022 academic year

11-17 October (Monday-Sunday): IMF + World Bank Annual Meetings.

12-14 October (Tuesday-Thursday): Mediterranean Offshore Conference, Alexandria, Egypt.

18 October (Monday): Prophet’s Birthday.

21 October (Thursday): National holiday in observance of the Prophet’s Birthday.

24-28 October (Sunday-Thursday) Cairo Water Week, Cairo, Egypt.

27-28 October (Wednesday-Thursday) Intelligent Cities Exhibition & Conference, Royal Maxim Palace Kempinski, Cairo, Egypt.

28 October (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

30 October – 4 November (Saturday-Thursday): The first edition of Race The Legends, Egypt.

November: The French-Egyptian Business Forum is set to take place in the Suez Canal Economic Zone.

November: Egypt will host another round of talks to reach a potential Egyptian-Eurasian trade agreement, which can significantly contribute to increasing the volume of Egyptian exports to the Russia-led bloc that includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan.

1-3 November (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Energy exhibition on power and renewable energy, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

2-3 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

1-12 November (Monday-Friday): 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26), Glasgow, United Kingdom.

16-17 November (Tuesday-Wednesday): Africa fintech summit, Cairo.

26 November-5 December (Friday-Sunday): The 43rd Cairo International Film Festival.

29 November-2 December (Monday-Thursday): Egypt Defense Expo.

7-8 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): North Africa Trade Finance Summit.

12-14 December (Sunday-Tuesday): Food Africa Cairo trade exhibition, Egypt International Exhibition Center, Cairo, Egypt.

13-17 December: United Nations Convention against Corruption, Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt.

14-19 December (Tuesday-Sunday): The Cairo International Festival for Experimental Theater.

14-15 December (Tuesday-Wednesday): The Federal Reserve meets to review interest rates.

16 December (Thursday): The CBE’s Monetary Policy Committee will meet to review interest rates.

14-16 February 2022 (Monday-Wednesday): Egypt Petroleum Show, Egypt International Exhibition Center, New Cairo, Egypt.

1H2022: The World Economic Forum annual meeting, location TBD.

22-24 April 2022: World Bank-IMF spring meeting, Washington D.C.

May 2022: Investment in Logistics Conference, Cairo, Egypt

16 June 2022 (Thursday): End of 2021-2022 academic year for public schools

27 June-3 July 2022 (Monday-Sunday): World University Squash Championships, New Giza.

**Note to readers: Some national holidays may appear twice above. Since 2020, Egypt has observed most mid-week holidays on Thursdays regardless of the day on which they fall and may also move those days to Sundays. We distinguish below between the actual holiday and its observance.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.