Oumnia Boualam during our interview at Villa Belle Epoque
Meet Oumnia Boualam, the woman who took a leap of faith out of the corporate world into social media and entrepreneurship to help people, and especially high achieving women reach their goals. Oumnia is a business and economy expert but she knows how to make business talks as light as her cheerful spirit, and she leverages her social media platforms to educate people on how they can use social media as a powerful tool to boost their business. Currently the Managing Director of Brussels Global Review and with a strong online presence, Oumnia shares valuable business insights built upon years of experience she has amassed during her time in corporate life. In this delightful interview, we talked about entrepreneurship, startups, and a lot more in between. Let alone we get bits of pieces of Oumnia’s character that exudes intellect, genuineness, commitment, and straightforwardness mixed with a light heart.
From corporate to a successful entrepreneur and digital content creator, we would like to know more about your journey
I have always been business-oriented, even since I was a child, it was my dream to become a businesswoman. So, when I started my journey with the corporate world, I focused on a career in sales which has taught me a lot about having goals and being accountable for your own performance. I have also learned that if you are ambitious and disciplined, you can accomplish anything you want. All that I have learned in the corporate world gave me the confidence to start my digital platform and build an online presence to help people, and particularly women, to learn something from my experience.
Can you also tell us more about your entrepreneurial role?
I am currently a Managing Director at a firm based in Brussels called Brussels Global Review. Our main focus is on sustainable developments and businesses that have a positive impact on society. What we basically do is bridge the gap between the European Union and Africa as well as the Middle East in terms of providing economic content that gives an insight into how these regions are progressing towards sustainability. The firm also organizes lobbying events in Brussels with key EU institutions and stakeholders to inform and influence them to work and invest more in this region.
Speaking of sustainability, we would like to hear your thoughts on sustainability in Egypt over the upcoming years.
I think it is a very special and exciting time for Egypt especially that it will be hosting the UN COP 27 Climate Talks next year in Sharm El Sheikh and that’s an indicator that the government is very serious about sustainability. Over the past four years, it has been noticeable that the infrastructure progress in Egypt has become impressive, the country has just inaugurated the biggest wastewater treatment plant for agriculture and that’s a huge project for sustainability. Also, worth mentioning Benban Solar Park which is one of the biggest in the world, in addition to the roads infrastructure, the clean renewable energy, so in fact, there is so much happening.
In terms of finance, Egypt is the first country in the region to start issuing green bonds and that’s another great indicator that there is a huge focus on sustainability. Consequently, there is a big appetite for international development, agencies like the IFC, EBRD, for them Egypt is one of the main focuses in Africa and the Middle East.
Also, over the past months, we have witnessed the state’s tremendous efforts in several strategies being put in place including the human rights file. There is a lot of talk about this matter in Europe and everyone is interested to understand more about it. I am excited to see a national strategy for human rights and I am sure Egypt will be a leading country in human rights. As a woman and a foreigner, I feel very safe and I think it is a great place for women.
The number of emerging startups in Egypt has significantly increased over the past years. However, not every startup makes it to success and growth. In your opinion, why do some startups make it while others don’t?
Last year, Egypt had the highest number in terms of financing startup deals in the MENA region. This is an indicator that the ecosystem is booming with plenty of room for startups and entrepreneurs, and that there is also a big appetite for investing in these projects. If we take a look at specific segments where these startups are emerging, they are mostly rising digital areas whether financial, health, or educational technology. These startups are filling a gap and are solving a problem that not only Egypt had, but also the whole world. It is interesting to see the government behind this exponential growth of startups and making it easier for them to boom with the regulations being implemented.
I strongly believe that what startups really need, of courses besides financing and funding, is mentorship. What defines whether a startup is going to make or not is mentorship and whether it has guidance. So, just as startups need funding from banks, they also need a team of advisors to guide and help them throughout the process. This is what discerns the successful from the unsuccessful.
With the digital transformation we are currently witnessing, what are the elements that contribute to a strong digital presence and how to avoid being cliché or part of a trend?
What I noticed lately on social media as a trend is this new wave of what we call creators and we need to correct the misconception of what creators do. Creators are not influencers per se who take pictures of themselves and post them on social media to get business deals, creators are naturally creative but also take content creation as a job and they know how to leverage social media to start a business out of it. They can start business companies, coaching, and we see a lot of yoga instructors who are using social media as a business and that’s a positive thing because in every developed country for instance Germany, 90% of their economy focuses on entrepreneurs. So, for countries like Egypt with its big population, economic growth will need a lot of entrepreneurs and now social media is the future of entrepreneurship.
In this shift you made in your career, what was your biggest challenge?
I think that the biggest challenge is educating people about social media in a more serious manner because, in the region, social media is only associated with lifestyle, fashion, and beauty. People don’t consider platforms like Instagram and TikTok as business platforms but actually, they are great tools to build your business. There is still a challenge in people understanding that they are serious platforms where you can make money with your skills no matter what they are.
Tell us about a point in your life when you have felt most accomplished
Though this might sound negative, I don’t think I ever feel accomplished and that’s because I always look for new things but at the same time, I go with the flow. But also I am very happy that I was able to use the experience I gained from the corporate world which gave me the confidence to be a partner in a company and I used social media to help my business so I can say that last year was definitely one of the highest points in my life.
If you can use your influence to change anything in the world, what would it be?
Honestly, the real reason why I would like to grow on my social media is to make people, and especially women, understand there is a lot more to women than just their beauty and appearance. Women are smart and they can use their intelligence to go places and grow businesses. They can be CEOs, they can be number one, and that they shouldn’t be anything else but number one.
Getting to know more about Oumnia on a personal level, here is what we asked her
Special thanks to Villa Belle Epoque, the venue where the interview was shot.