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Oumnia Boualam is helping African and Arab Women “do business better”

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Moroccan Oumnia Boualam is an experienced Business Growth Expert and the Managing Director at Brussels Global Review (BGR). She helps Arab and African female entrepreneurs and coaches get clarity, build a personal brand and grow a successful business online. Currently, Oumnia oversees several advisory reports on key economic trends in the Middle East and Africa, helping businesses and investors get key information for their decision making process. In this interview with Alaba Ayinuola, Oumnia Boualam talks about her corporate experience and her passion for Arab and African female entrepreneurs. Excerpt.

 

Alaba: To begin, could you briefly tell us about yourself and Brussels Global Review? 

Oumnia: Growing up I was very shy and introverted. I never felt comfortable socialising and even dreaded going to school in Morocco (which is where I am from). That completely changed once I moved abroad at 18 to study then work in international sales and marketing. I used to work for a very demanding company selling High Ticket advertising in Emerging Countries. This meant I had to live in various countries (9 in total) and conduct on average 300 meetings per year. While this was an exhausting job, It allowed me to learn how to become adaptable and sociable in the business environment. When the pandemic started I decided to move away from this environment and start building my own business focusing on Sustainable Development and helping Africans and Arabs “do business better”.

I moved to Brussels and co-founded Brussels Global Review. We produce Sustainability reports on the MEA region for an audience of EU decision makers (here in Brussels). In parallel we have 2 signature online programs designed to help African and Arab professionals develop their digital skills, communication and confidence.

Alaba: Could you briefly share some of your experience as a corporate leader, your highs and lows?

Oumnia: Highs: Being able to see how many people I help through my social media content. Lows: Having to deal with toxic corporate culture, lack of support and judgments as a young African, woman entrepreneur.

Alaba: What is your greatest professional accomplishment to date?

Oumnia: I am most proud of the program I have created: The Digital Boss Academy. It’s going to help so many young professionals in Africa and the Middle East to leverage the digital economy to earn more.

Alaba: What are some of the strategies that you believe have helped you grow as a person?

Oumnia: I wouldn’t call it a strategy but more of a personality trait: Curiosity. Being curious and not always following outdated methods and strategies just because that’s what is being said or that’s the way it’s being done. I also strongly believe in learning from life experience rather than having prestigious degrees and that is a crucial skill in Business.

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Alaba: Can you share your thoughts on Gender Inclusion in Africa and the Arab entrepreneurship ecosystem? 

Oumnia: Not enough is being done to change the mindsets. There can be new regulations, new programs and so on. But if the mindsets of both men and women don’t change in terms of really considering equal opportunities for both genders then we will make very slow progress. Women are still expected to have kids and get married before having a career in our society. Some women founders are being asked what will happen to their business once they start a family. We also don’t have enough success stories to inspire and empower women to follow their dreams.

Alaba: Kindly walk us through a typical day as an entrepreneur and how do you relax? 

Oumnia: Every day is different for me because I tend to get bored with routine activities. But one thing remains the same every single day from 06.00am to 09.00am I write and create content. This is the time of the day my brain is most active and also as a natural introvert I feel much more comfortable when things are quiet so I can be deeply focused.

Alaba: What advice would you give to any woman who wants to launch into entrepreneurship? 

Oumnia: Starting a business is not as hard as you think if you’re willing to learn. The hard part is to overcome your fear and mindset blocks. That requires a lot of personal development work and it’s not comfortable to go through it.

 

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Defendis, a Moroccan startup launches its cyber threat intelligence platform at GITEX Africa

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Defendis Co-Founders (Image: Supplied).

Defendis, a Moroccan cybersecurity startup with an innovative approach to Threat Intelligence, emerges from stealth with the launch of its AI-powered platform, enabling organisations to proactively contain data leaks and neutralise cyberattacks.

Defendis’s approach goes beyond traditional IOCs by providing Banks, Government Agencies, and Businesses the capability to understand what cybercriminals are doing before an attack. The platform taps into AI to identify credentials and payment Cards leaks, asset vulnerabilities, phishing attacks, fraudulent domains, and online brand impersonation attempts.

“Our mission is to provide organisations, especially those with limited resources and capabilities, with advanced cybersecurity solutions to adapt to the ever-changing threat landscape and regulatory requirements,” says Amine Bajeddi, co-founder and CEO of Defendis.

Defendis is founded and led by a team of talented young Moroccan entrepreneurs passionate about cybersecurity:

Amine Bajeddi, Co-founder and CEO: A graduate of Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and the University of Sussex in the UK, Amine Bajeddi has extensive experience in product development and business strategy. He is now dedicated to Defendis to develop cutting-edge cybersecurity solutions.

Charafeddine Nassiri, Co-founder and CTO: Passionate about cybersecurity since the age of 15, Charafeddine Nassiri is a brilliant self-taught individual. Having identified and fixed over 1,114 vulnerabilities through bug bounty programs, he was able to launch his career as a cybersecurity consultant in 2019. Today, as CTO of Defendis, he leads the development of new solutions capable of transforming the cybersecurity landscape.

Marouane Sabri, Co-founder and CMO: A graduate in communication from Al Akhawayn University in Morocco and a master’s degree in digital marketing from the University of Southampton, Marouane Sabri has extensive experience in marketing and business development. He has held key positions at Avito and Garena before joining Defendis to lead marketing and communication efforts.

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RevUp Women Initiative Awards $100,000 In Grants to 10 Female Entrepreneurs

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The RevUp Women Initiative hosted its highly anticipated Business Showcase, themed “Investing in Women, Inspiring Futures.” The event, organized by AfriLabs and Visa Foundation, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders committed to fostering inclusive economic growth through the empowerment of women entrepreneurs.

The Opening Ceremony, guided by Nanko Madu, Director of Programmes at AfriLabs, commenced with a warm welcome address, setting the tone for the day’s proceedings. Attendees were treated to a visual journey through the accomplishments of RevUp Women’s First Cohort, showcased in captivating highlights.

A highlight of the event was the Keynote Address delivered by Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Co-founder at WIMBIZ, who passionately spoke about the importance of investing in women and the transformative impact it can have on communities and economies.

‘It is my distinct honor and privilege to stand before you today as we gather to celebrate the remarkable achievements of women entrepreneurs and to rally behind the RevUp Women Initiative. This initiative not only celebrates the indomitable spirit, resilience, and determination of women in general but also highlights the importance of investing in women and women-owned businesses as a means of building and inspiring a future that is inclusive, diverse, and prosperous for all,’ stated Mrs. Ifeyinwa Ighodalo, Co-founder at WIMBIZ.

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Following the keynote, a thought-provoking Panel Discussion ensued, moderated by Nanko Madu, focusing on “Fostering Inclusive Growth Through Women’s Economic Participation.” The panel featured esteemed personalities including Ms. Lilian Olubi, Judge at The Next Titan Nigeria; Ms. Hajara Pitan, Wealth Coach & Business Strategist at Audacity to Soar; Sherifah Balogun, Director of Strategy, Funding, and Stakeholder Management at LSETF; and Annabel Angwenyi, Founder at Ziada. Their insights illuminated pathways for enhancing women’s economic empowerment across the continent.

Engagement continued with a lively Question & Answer session, allowing attendees to interact directly with the panelists and delve deeper into key issues surrounding women’s economic participation. The pinnacle of the event was the much-anticipated Award Ceremony, where the top ten finalists of a comprehensive selection process were announced as winners each receiving a grant of 10,000 USD:

  • Baby Grubz (Lagos, Nigeria).
  • Queen Amina Medical Integration (Abuja, Nigeria).
  • Ecokud Limited (Kisumu, Kenya).
  • Ziada, Kele Makgale (Pty) Ltd (Nairobi Kenya).
  • Ndiqala (PTY) Ltd (Johannesburg, South Africa).
  • WaziEats (Douala, Cameroon).
  • V’s VitaLife (Yaounde, Cameroon).
  • Mali Food (Lubumbashi, DRC).
  • P.aktion (Kinshasa, DRC).

The awards celebrated the resilience, innovation, and dedication of these trailblazing entrepreneurs.

“Investing in women isn’t just a moral imperative; it’s a strategic decision with far-reaching economic benefits.  As we strive for inclusive growth, it’s imperative that we recognize and harness the potential of women as drivers of economic development,” emphasized Nanko Madu, Director of Programmes at AfriLabs.

“Despite the challenges women entrepreneurs face, they demonstrate an unparalleled tenacity and determination to succeed,” said Najada Kumbuli, Head of Investments, Visa Foundation. “Supporting the growth of women-owned businesses is crucial for fostering an economy that works for everyone, everywhere.”

The RevUp Women Initiative Business Showcase not only celebrated the achievements of women entrepreneurs but also served as a catalyst for driving meaningful change and fostering a more inclusive and prosperous future for all.

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Link Me: Revolutionising Ride-Sharing for Gen Z In South Africa

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Link Me Founder, Sean Murefu.

In today’s fast-paced world, convenience is key, but consumers are also seeking more value from the services they use. Enter Link Me, a ride-sharing app tailored specifically for Gen Z in South Africa. Founded by 21-year-old entrepreneur Sean Murefu, Link Me is not just another ride-sharing app but a lifestyle brand on a mission to redefine urban mobility and offer an unparalleled experience to its users.

Link Me recognises that we are in an era where people expect more in return for the services they use. With a focus on providing value-added services and fostering a sense of community, Link Me aims to go beyond simply getting users from point A to point B but it’s about delivering an experience.

“At Link Me, we understand that consumers want more than just a ride,” explains Sean Murefu, the driving force behind the app. “They want value, they want convenience, and they want to feel connected. That’s why we’ve designed Link Me to offer more than just transportation. We’re offering an experience.”

One of the key features that sets Link Me apart is its user-friendly interface, making booking a ride quick and easy. With just a few taps on their smartphones, users will soon be able to access a network of reliable drivers and track their journey in real-time. Safety is also a top priority, with thorough background checks for all drivers and in-app safety features ensuring peace of mind for both riders and drivers.

But Link Me doesn’t stop at transportation. As part of its mission to become a lifestyle brand, the app will host public and private events for its users, fostering a sense of community and belonging. Additionally, Link Me will provide its drivers with a bimonthly lottery as a bonus on top of the money they earned, offering them the chance to win exciting prizes and incentives.

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“We want to give our users more than just a ride—we want to give them an unforgettable experience,” says Murefu. As Link Me prepares for its official launch, anticipation is building among prospective users eager to experience its unique blend of convenience, community, and value. With a commitment to providing exceptional service and fostering a sense of belonging, The app is poised to revolutionise urban mobility for Gen Z in South Africa and beyond.

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