March 6, 2024 Faatimah Clarke

From Vision to Venture: Salma and Sarah’s Entrepreneurial Journey with RDNA Works

In the dynamic landscape of Egyptian entrepreneurship, two self-made women, Salma and Sarah, stand out as inspiring examples of innovation and sustainability. Both driven by a passion for creating impactful ventures, their journeys converged through the transformative experience of the RDNA Works’ Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp, a CFYE-backed initiative.

Salma, an impassioned urban developer with an entrepreneurial spirit, first embarked on her journey with Shoka w Megdaf – an initiative deeply rooted in community-centric values on Qursaya Island at VeryNile Shop. What began as a humble meal provider for VeryNile’s team, prioritising minimal single-use packaging in alignment with the hub’s ethos, evolved into Salma’s vision of an open kitchen, capable of hosting its own events, while embodying the very essence of its origins and Qursaya island. However, navigating business establishment and scaling up was not an easy path. Confronted with numerous obstacles from legal hurdles to health certifications, tax compliance, and sourcing quality ingredients, Salma found herself at a crossroads, seeking guidance to expand her vision. Her beacon of opportunity emerged through the recommendation of the RDNA Women Entrepreneurs Bootcamp – a comprehensive program spanning business development, legal frameworks, and tax systems – everything that Salma was looking for to expand Shoka w Megdaf.

Like Salma, Sarah shared a vision of creating an innovative and environmentally conscious venture. After leaving her corporate role, Sarah chartered her own course and pursued her dream of creating a business with a positive environmental impact – something that she could truly be proud of. Having always loved cosmetics and recognizing the industry’s shortcomings in limiting pollutants, it was no surprise that Sarah wanted to seize the opportunity to locally produce eco-friendly alternatives. Starting with handmade soap and 100% natural cosmetics, Sarah managed to lay the cornerstone of Samra, her very own sustainable business. As Samra began to come to life, Sarah realized the need for specialized expertise to further propel Samra to new heights in the business world. Collaborating with her chemist husband, she fine-tuned Samra’s formulas and customised the brand to better suit the Egyptian market. With an eagerness to network and collaborate with other industry players like herself, Sarah then approached RDNA Works about the opportunity to take part in the bootcamp.

Fostering Female Entrepreneurship: The Program’s Transformative Impact  

Operating within Sekem and supported by CFYE, RDNA Works is dedicated to fostering entrepreneurship and job creation in Egypt, supporting many young women in transitioning to the formal economy with the establishment of a licensed food co-processing facility and delivery centres. Their first edition Women’s Entrepreneurs Bootcamp was exclusively tailored for women-led startups in the food and cosmetics sectors, offering a 3-day intensive program with industry expert insights and guidance on navigating the business landscape.

For both Salma and Sarah, the bootcamp was a catalyst for transformation. Salma found empowerment in sessions focused on value proposition and vision boarding, encouraging her to crystallize her priorities and shape the businesses’ floorplan development. She was further equipped with soft and hard skills, including networking and industry-specific language comprehension, allowing her to address the challenges she had been facing. For Sarah, hurdles like taxes and marketing were no longer burdening her as the bootcamp enabled her to engage with other local business owners, learning from their creative solutions and ownership experiences.

But Salma and Sarah’s entrepreneurial ambitions don’t just stop there.

Having gained confidence in herself to gauge the business landscape, Sarah anticipates more B2B deals that impact Samra’s cash flow, plans to host various offline pop-ups around Cairo, and to move into exports. Now, with the knowledge gained from the bootcamp and her own journey as a female entrepreneur, she emphasises that young Egyptian women should,

“Use the current government facilities they’re giving to startups and women entrepreneurs and create a strong social media presence as it really impacts your sales.”

Sarah Ahmed

Salma has her sights set on scaling the diverse experiences offered on Qursaya Island, aiming to strike the perfect balance between affordability and sustainability, amplifying social and environmental impact. To fellow Egyptian women entrepreneurs, she offers a guiding light:

“Stay focused, start with a small pilot, and build from there. Always experiment at a small scale and when it picks up, take it forward.”

Salma Ellakany


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