Break The Bias

African Women In Tech Forge Real Change Despite Obstacles

By  |  March 8, 2022

It largely stays under the radar that the very first e-hailing company in Egypt was started by a fresh-faced 20-something-year-old who, in her own words, was thought to be crazy.

“I had an idea that no one had thought of, that no one had thought was possible, and almost everyone thought I was crazy! But I believed in myself, I believed I could, my family and my close support system decided to back me up,” Hadeer Shalaby, MD of Talabat Egypt, tells WeeTracker.

“Fast forward years later: This idea worked and was profitable, I sold it to a bigger company, and I started leading their business in my country and bringing new ideas to them, and today I am now leading another big company helping them with what I have learned and still adding new ideas,” she shared.

In a country that is not the most open to women (Egypt ranked 134th out of the 153 countries in the 2020 Global Gender Gap Index and 140th out of 153 countries in women's economic participation and opportunity), Shalaby managed quite some feat.

She founded Taxi El Sa7el; a startup that was the first to offer on-demand transportation in the North Coast in Egypt in summer 2014, which was acquired in 2015 by the Middle-East e-hailing giant, Careem.

Then, she went on to lead Careem’s business in Egypt, eventually making Cairo the biggest city for Careem in the whole region, which remains the case to this day. These days, Shalaby is steering the Egyptian branch of Talabat; a Kuwait-founded startup devoted to simply helping people get food, which was acquired by Rocket Internet in 2015 and is now under the umbrella of Europe-based Delivery Hero.

Feats like Shalaby’s, though often muffled by gender disparities, are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to chronicling the excellence of African women in tech both on the continent’s burgeoning tech scene and beyond. At every turn, African tech is being shaped by women in spite of the regressive cultural stereotypes that blunt their effort.

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