Alumni Entrepreneurs Help Transform Egypt's Economy

A group of alumni are working to transform Egypt's economy and people's daily transactions. As founders PayMob, a payment service provider whose goal is to turn cash into electronic money, Alain El Hajj ’15, Islam Shawky '15, Mostafa Menessy '16 are contributing to promote significant economic growth in Egypt and help the community manage its spending. 

Cashless Society

PayMob envisions a cashless society, an "essential building block for developed countries and communities," according to the company website. “In a country where most of the transactions happen in cash and with minimal access to finance, it is important to embed financial inclusion benefits," said El Hajj, co-founder and chief operating officer of PayMob. "This is the cornerstone for achieving inclusive economic development.”

After graduation, El Hajj, Shawky and Menessy took their shared entrepreneurial interests and backgrounds in technology and teamed up to found PayMob, which eventually saw more AUC alumni join in building a cashless society. Omar Abdelwahed '16, product development manager, Amr Ellaithy '17, technical lead, and members of the technical team, Mohamed El Mohamadi '15 and Ahmad Adel Abdalla '17, later joined in. 

The company's services include online payment, card-on-delivery, mobile wallet payments, in-store payments and standalone checkout. "PayMob is a digital payments enabler, and we build payment infrastructure services for financial institutions and telecoms operators," said El Hajj, highlighting the importance of a cashless society. "Cashless payments are greener. They eliminate the risks of carrying cash, and they will also help people budget and monitor their spending."

Developing an Entrepreneurial Eye at AUC

It was at AUC that these alumni were able to discover their passions and develop the innovative mindsets that would eventually lead them to PayMob.

This is not the first time that Abdelwahed follows his instincts on market trends. Initially unsure about what to major in as an AUC student, he took time to study the market with his father. “I wanted to see where it was heading so I could make a strategic move to another major,” Abdelwahed remembered. “Finally, I decided to major in computer science and minor in business administration.”

In addition to being part of the rowing team, Abdelwahed served as the IT manager for AUC’s Entrepreneurs’ Society while a student at the University. “It was Entrepreneurs’ Society that made me realize my passion for entrepreneurship,” he said. His passion led him to success after graduation when he established his own startup with a friend and won first place in the Entrepreneurs’ Society Business Plan Competition. He later worked at IBM as a mobile application developer before finding inspiration in PayMob’s innovative outlook of promoting financial and digital transformation.

A computer science major, El Hajj was also motivated by his exposure to the entrepreneurial track at AUC. “I was always passionate about new technologies and always wanted to start a business,” he said. “AUC exposed me to diverse areas that helped me in my career to co-start a company. The AUC network has had a significant role in my professional life, as the amount of combined knowledge you can get from the community is unparalleled.”

Menessy similarly displayed a natural tendency to innovate while at AUC. When he couldn’t find a club that matched his interests, he co-created a program titled HackMe session about cyber security awareness.

Also a computer science major, Menessy was first only drawn to his particular field, but began to explore other subjects throughout his studies. “AUC came in and highlighted the importance of getting a broader perspective through its liberal arts education and diversified community,” he said. “One of the key takeaways is that it’s not a luxury to get involved in areas apart from your major. It's a necessity for success.”

After graduating, Menessy said that “it was mostly about the journey of PayMob."

Abdelwahed reflects on the relationships that helped build him up to where he is today. “One of the greatest opportunities AUC offers is a great network that becomes a professional and personal community to aid graduates throughout the course of their lives and future careers,” he said.

Establishing PayMob took the combined efforts of all of these skilled alumni. El Hajj encourages AUC students to take advantage of their community and the networks they build during their University years. “The entrepreneurial career is one bumpy and tough choice, but it can be incredibly rewarding," El Hajj affirmed. Advising current AUC students, he said, "Passion should be your number one motivation if this is your career path. Surround yourself with the right team. The team is the most important factor for any success story out there.”