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Arwa Sameh, founder of Maan: win-win for all parties involved

Maan means together in Arabic. I chose this name because it illustrates the connection we have with our customers, community, local organisations, members and suppliers.

Arwa Othman – اروى عثمان مركز تنموية grew up in Assiut, Upper Egypt and is a young and inspiring leader for her district. She is the founder of Maan, a platform for workforce development for young individuals and actors of the sustainable recycling industry. She decided to launch her own business last year, but has been working independently for the past five years, working on establishing her own recycling business. OCHQ asked Arwa to tell us more about the start-up’s strengths, obstacles and aspirations.

When and how did you get into the Orange Corners Programme? To what extent did the programme further enhance your business?

“I registered for the Orange Corners programme in early 2020. Afterwards, I attended the bootcamp and was honoured to be selected to take part in the incubation programme. The Orange Corners not only helped me with writing a fundamental business plan, but also with implementing it. These first but crucial steps for my start-up led to the creating of my marketing plan, which underpinned the promotion of my services and products on social media. Maan is considered to be in its early development stage, but we are on the right track for further growth.”

We were able to overcome the beginning start-up hurdles through networking with companies, pharmacies, hospitals and factories.

Could you tell us a little bit more about your background?

“I am from Assiut and hold a Bachelor’s and Master’s in law. I never wanted to work in an office as I did not like the routine and lifestyle that comes with an office job. I wanted to benefit from and pursue my financial independence, so I decided to launch my own business in 2019.”

We integrate as many young men and women in our training, so that Maan serves as an inclusive, motivational and educational platform and support mechanism.

How did you choose the name? What does it stand for?

“The word Maan in Arabic means together. I chose the name because it represents the relationship we have with customers, organisation, community, members and suppliers who provide us with paper. It also refers to cooperation, partnership and common gain for all parties.”

Enhance your own skills and ideas and continue working on alternative products and solutions. Remember to stay flexible and adaptive to the market, as customers will never stop evaluating and thus help you to improve your product.

How does your start-up impact its direct surroundings/economy/employment? Does the start-up have a social mission?

“Our start-up provides support for several institutions, associations, programme and community development coordinators on the recycling paper industry in Upper Egypt. I inform those involved, mostly young men and women, how to best recycle paper in the community using low-cost simple tools. But we do more than that; we evaluate how to best contribute to the sustainable growth of our communities, institutions and society, determining the path that will underpin the sustainable development goals of the United Nations. We include as many young men and women in our training, so that Maan is an inclusive, motivational and educational support mechanism. Working together towards a clear vision, is paramount, such as our name indicates. “

As an entrepreneur, you will face many obstacles including fierce competition on the market. But do not give up.

What are in your opinion Maan’s strengths in comparison to other start-ups?

“Maan’s strengths are, among others:
1. We reduce environmental waste with 15% by recycling paper in our community.
2. We train young men and women, who are the breadwinners of our society. We help them in honing their skills which they can further work on at home. In this way, we are foster sustainability in the community and in households in the hope to provide them with an income and new knowledge in return.
3. The method we use to recycle paper, can be used in different areas across Upper Egypt; households who need to get rid of paper, factories, schools and many more.
4. By recycling products, we create recycled materials that can serve as alternatives for plastic, wood, wallpaper and artificial stone, usable for different purposes.”

Our start-up provides community support for several institutions, associations, programme and community development coordinators on recycling and reusing paper in Upper Egypt.

Which struggles did you encounter while launching your own business and how did you overcome it?

“At the inception of the start-up, I met a couple obstacles such as the incapability to launch our products on the market. I was able to overcome this through networking with companies, pharmacies, hospitals and factories. I was able to explain them the advantages of our products in further details.”

Working together towards a clear vision, is paramount.

Could you give other aspiring entrepreneurs advice for their own business (ideas)?

“Pieces of advice I can give to aspiring entrepreneurs are: work on product development with determination and a critical eye; work on the packaging as well; have more than one channel for marketing and communication so customers can speak to you either directly or online; and study the market so you are aware of the market’s needs and deficiencies. Last but not least, one product is sufficient to create a direct effect on your community and receive a reward in return.”

Where would you like to see your start-up in five years?

“Our start-up Maan aspires to be the pioneer in the paper recycling market in Upper Egypt. We hope to continue reducing unemployment and have our own factory, enabling us to to export our products, expand our business and team.” 

I wanted to benefit from and pursue my financial independence, so I decided to launch my own business in 2019.

What other advice would you give to aspiring or current entrepreneurs?

“As an entrepreneur, you will face many obstacles, including fierce competition on the market. But do not give up, continue developing your own skills and ideas and keep working on alternative products and solutions. Remember to stay flexible and adaptive to the market, as customers will never stop evaluating and thus help you to improve your product.”

Visit her Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/arwa0thmanTanmawyaCenter

Kan een afbeelding zijn van een of meer mensen, zittende mensen, staande mensen, hoofddoek en binnen

Maan is considered to be in its early development stage, but we are on the right track for further growth.

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