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South Africa, Technology
Entrepreneurs Omar El Sanhoury and Moastsaem Osam are serving the under-banked population in Egypt by building e-payment gateways and e-wallets. Their vision is to use online and mobile payment technology, as well as a robust network of merchants, to turn cell phones into debit cards.
Omar and Moatsaem bring deep industry expertise to their business. After earning an MBA and working in the telecom space, Omar became the Senior Manager at Vodafone Egypt. Moatasem, who was raised in Kuwait, pursued a degree at Ain Shams University. After graduating, he attended the Maastricht School of Management. He too landed a job with Vodafone. In 2005, the two met while working on “Vodafone Cash”. The service allowed customers to transfer funds to other customers who could then withdraw cash from Vodafone affiliates.
Omar and Maostasem left Vodafone in 2007 to better target Egyptians with mobile phones but without formal banking. They set up a plan: 1) develop the technology to sell top-up minutes to a network of unbanked merchants; 2) expand the network of merchants and offer them value-added services; and 3) obtain a banking license and allow end users to open E-Masary accounts, essentially turning the phones of Egypt’s unbanked into widely accepted debit cards.
To speed up the plan, the entrepreneurs bought a software solution and customized it for Egypt’s market. In July 2009, Omar and Moatasem launched E-Masary, and quickly signed deals with large phone corporations.
Omar and Moatasem have proven their entrepreneurial agility in an incredibly dynamic industry.
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