Entrepreneurs in Egypt: Yehia Elbehery
Young entrepreneurs in Egypt are part of a new wave of self-employment sweeping the nation, and Mostafa Shahat writes about them.
There are many challenges that Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries face that can’t be solved by a single individual’s efforts. Individual’s efforts definitely help, but to see an impact and growth in the community, all community players must participate – not only NGOs or non-profit organisations, but companies, too.
It’s a new trend for companies to have a social vision. They have realised that caring about the community matters, and it helps build a strong brand and loyal customers. Some big corporations launched Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) departments where they can sponsor initiatives and run campaigns that speak out about community problems.
Modablaj (which means ‘translated’) is an initiative started after the Egyptian revolution in 2011. It is considered one of the best language-learning communities, becoming a fast growing company that gained followers from all over the world and received support from the best incubators inside and outside Egypt.
Yehia Elbehery Modablaj is the founder of the initiative, using his passion for languages and translation to found his company five years ago. His aim was to help young Egyptians understand the lyrics of their favourite songs and other content. They now have translations from more than eight international languages, and they are expanding to include other languages.
‘A big part of the idea is translating knowledge on the internet, but also enjoying the different languages and cultures and learning how others speak, curse and joke. For example, it’s fascinating to me when people in different cultures use similar proverbs, jokes and metaphors despite the differences in culture, location and language’, says Yehia.
Yehia is a software engineer, graduating in 2009 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Computer Engineering from The Modern Academy for Engineering & Technology. Since he was a student, Yehia worked as a Web Developer at Internet Plus, where he worked on several big projects for corporations.
He always dreamed of starting his own company, so he used his entrepreneurial skills to launch his first project named Trulingo Translator, a mobile app that translates Spanish – English. Mainly targeting Europe and United States regions, the app succeeded, receiving more than 500,000 downloads and more than 70,000 dollars in less than two years.
‘I was not expecting that success. I was very happy and surprised’, says Yehia.
After the success of his first project, Yehia decided to quit his full-time job and start his entrepreneurial journey by launching his second successful company, Modablaj. Modablaj, in less than five years, has 500,000 monthly active users coming from more than 40 countries and generating two million page views monthly. With the help of his team and more than 100 monthly active volunteer translators, he managed to translate over 5,000 songs. Currently, they not only translate to the Arabic language but to several other languages as well so they can increase their reach.
‘I was doing the translation by myself, but later I found that many volunteers wanted to support me and do the translation work with me. That’s why we started translating several other languages’, says Yehia.
Modablaj is a unique and new idea that has proven success, and that’s why it has been accepted in many international and local incubation programs, such as the TIEC Accelerator, (Mobaderoon) Pioneers of Egypt and FBstart from Facebook. Yehia is a dreamer. Despite the challenges that he faced and is still facing to grow his company, he is very motivated and optimistic. He wishes to operate his company in different regions in the world.
‘I am working on upgrading our service and adding more features. It’s not going be only a company that is doing translation but also connecting cultures,’ says Yehia.
Article submitted by Mostafa Shahat, the volunteer responsible for Arabic guest bloggers in the MENA region and an entrepreneur who has established one of the most successful youth communities in Egypt, Goal Oriented Learners. Mostafa studied social entrepreneurship in USA and is currently the Middle East & North Africa representative at StudySearch (Nigeria) and the Egypt representative for All Events in City (India). Mostafa is also a reporter at Nudge Sustainability Hub. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and check out his other blog A Syrian’s Success in Egypt and more from his Entrepreneurs in Egypt series.
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