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Thursday, 8 April 2021

My WFH Routine: Ahmed Bassiouny, co-founder and managing partner at Noqood

Ahmed Bassiouny, co-founder and managing partner at Noqood: Each week, my Morning / WFH 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 Ahmed Bassiouny (LinkedIn), co-founder and managing partner at Noqood.

My name is Ahmed Bassiouny, I’m 34 years old and I’m the managing partner of Noqood, which I launched in 2017 with my co-founder Adham Mamdouh. I graduated from Alexandria University’s Faculty of Commerce in 2008 and started working at ins. company Allianz while I was still in school. I started working in the banking sector after graduating, where I stayed until 2017. I passed my CFA level 1 and CFA level 2 along with Adham, and then we started Noqood.

The idea for Noqood came from what we saw as a lack of financial literacy in the market. We realized people didn't know much about exchange rates, credit card limits or how much foreign currency they could carry abroad, so we started working on this educational project we called Noqood, which literally translates to money in Arabic. Over time we added more components to our company, which has now grown to four main pillars.

Our financial literacy component makes a lot of financial information available to everyone so people can learn about things like the difference between current and savings accounts, credit cards, debits cards, where to put their money and when the best time to take out a loan is. Our second pillar is focused on banking, where we provide an overview of products and services currently available in the market that makes it easier for users to choose what best suits their needs. Our stock market services provide an aggregated technical and fundamental analysis of the market based on company filings — which we’ve been working closely on with brokerage firms like EFG Hermes, Naeem, Mubasher and Pharos on. And finally, our ins. focused services bring together all the different ins. packages available in the Egyptian market from car to home ins.

We currently have around 5k visits per month with an average of three minutes spent per visit. This tells us that people are spending time learning something new or comparing different options. We know that we’re introducing new people to the stock market, especially retail investors with small amounts of money who are looking to trade on their own online. We saw this in action during the Fawry IPO, when we noticed a lot of interest from people in Upper Egypt and Sinai investing in the stock market.

Younger people from all over the country are more willing to open bank accounts. I think it's easier to focus on getting younger demographics into the banking system than their parents. We can figure out more about the demographic breakdown of users based on when they apply for something using our platform.

These days I wake up at 8:30 am. I grab coffee on the way to work and make it to the office at 10 am. I start my day by making to-do lists and reading Enterprise. By 11 am, I’m fully focused on phone calls, emails and meetings. I finish work around 7 pm and head home to see my seven-year-old daughter before her bedtime. Then I get to some unfinished business or meet up with my co-founder Adham. I like to see my friends at least once a week. Fridays and half of my Saturdays are for family time; the other half of my Saturday is dedicated to work.

Every day I'm looking for new clients and new sales. Right now, we’re trying to expand and secure more partnerships with banks and financial institutions. In 2020 we worked on a slightly different type of project with Emirates NBD where we were asked to provide quality leads for their asset campaign. They were looking to sell loans to unbanked clients who we managed to connect them with.

2020 was a really tough year for everyone. Our work mainly depends on third parties like banks and brokerage companies, which was a problem at first because these are very large institutions with slow decision making processes, especially when it comes to third party agreements. So at the start of the pandemic there was a high level of uncertainty everywhere and things just paused for a moment. But after some time had passed I think people started to realize the importance of the internet and doing things remotely.

I don't think full WFH is here to stay. We moved to WFH last March, but now it's a flexible schedule. We have daily phone calls, a WhatsApp group and Zoom meetings and at least one in-person meeting a week. I personally prefer in-person interactions though. Working in a team with other people drives you to work. After a while, staying at home can become boring and I think there’s a desire now to go back to the office even if it's once or twice a week.

We’re waiting for the new fintech law to be passed to give us more space to move. Right now our business depends on a lot of external factors and our goal is to reach a point of less dependence on large banks. We want to be a place that clients trust to give them an independent overview of the market with no bias to any particular financial institution. For the year ahead we’re working on a new incremental savings project, which I think could really be a breakthrough for us.

I like football and fishing. I’m a huge Al Ahly fan and I catch all their matches with my uncle but it's been some time since I've gone fishing. For the past year it's been entirely work and family. This year I think I’ll be focusing on getting some consistent exercise and reading incorporated into my schedule.

I really believe in just focusing on doing your best consistently. All you can really control is how committed you are — and the rest is up to fate.

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