Reem Fawzy, a graduate of the 10,000 Women program at AUC, succeeded in establishing and significantly developing her own tourism company despite economic hardship and challenges. Reem graduated in 2011, a difficult period in the history of Egypt. However, she was not only able to sustain her business during this time of austerity, but also doubled its size and undertook new initiatives to fulfill societal needs. 10,000 Women helped her adjust and improve her business goals by creating a clear and specific plan for her business.
Prior to starting her business, Reem initially worked as an accountant and then General Manager of a mid-sized travel agency. In 2000, Reem made a life-changing decision; she quit her job as the General Manager and decided to pursue her entrepreneurial dream by renting and running a travel agency by herself. In 2005, she also launched the first taxi company in Egypt – The Cairo Cab. In 2007, she launched Rimo for Transportation and Limousine Services, a travel and transportation company. Finally, in 2009, she expanded to establish Rimo Tours, which provides a range of tourism services from transportation, limousine and car rentals, to hotel reservations, events/conferences organization, sightseeing tours, and religious tourism.
By 2011, Rimo Tours had expanded to 10 branches and 150 employees. However, after the Egyptian revolution that year, the tourism industry was in crisis and the business was going downhill. The revolution adversely affected Reem’s business and forced her to downsize the company to only 2 branches and 20 employees. That is when Reem joined 10,000 Women to find inspiration and guidance to help her deal with the business problems she was struggling with. Getting into the program was a great opportunity to get support, education and inspiration to save her business.
10,000 Women provided Reem with a different perspective of the business and helped her rethink her entire strategy. She adopted new strategies that helped her adjust to the new economic situation and that allowed her to seize new opportunities in areas she had not ventured in before, such as working with local clients instead of working solely with tourists and foreign companies, as well as developing a new line of travel packages focused on religious pilgrimages. She also noticed a demand for safe and reliable transportation services and started using her tour buses, which were idle, to provide transport for companies and schools. Reem was able to get the business back on its feet and Rimo Tours expanded once again to 12 branches and 190 employees. Moreover, Reem had a notable revenue increase despite the economic recession caused by the economic and political situation in Egypt and its negative impact on the tourism field.
As Reem put it, “Overall, this program changed my life and my attitude...Before the program, I managed my business arbitrarily and I heavily depended on my personal experience and intuition. However, 10,000 Women introduced me to a more methodological way of thinking and managing my business in a more theoretical way.”
Reem also says that 10,000 Women improved her confidence through two crucial elements: the education she needed to witness positive results in the business and the intellectual and personal support that were a motivation for her to expand the business.
Reem has also developed a passion for community involvement. In 2015, she established the Pink Taxi. This project provides taxi services specialized for women as well as employment and training opportunities for female drivers. The aim of the project is to provide a safe means of transportation to all women, which is both convenient and harassment-free. Reem donates 10% of the income from Pink Taxi to Baheya Foundation to offer women free breast detections and treatments. She also uses her company’s vehicles to organize large-scale trips as part of her charity work.
According to Reem, “before the program, I was business oriented only, but after the program I learned that business should be coupled with giving back to the community. This inspired me to start Rimo Tours Academy project. This idea turned into an effective tool that provides women with job opportunities as they receive the necessary training to become taxi drivers at Pink Taxi”.
In 2013, Reem was selected to represent the 10,000 Women program during the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting held in New York City. During the event, Reem spoke about her experience and shared her success story and how the program enriched her business knowledge and practical experience.
Recognition of her success has also been notable in Egypt as well, where she was interviewed by several television channels to share her story and specifically discuss her latest initiative, the Pink Taxi several television channels to share her story and specifically discuss her latest initiative, the Pink Taxi, interviewed her. Further, she was one of four women featured in a TV program called ‘One woman equals 100 men’ to share her female entrepreneur experience in the business field.
Reem has recommended10,000 Women to many women in her community, especially to young business women who have high potential. She recommended the program to approximately 50 women.
“I believe that in Egypt, women usually start their businesses based on their experiences, but it is also important to gain the necessary skills to run a business, even if they are experienced in the industry of their businesses”, said Reem.
“Providing women business owners such as Reem with the necessary skills, mentorship and tools to transform her business makes good business sense. Reem is an example of what success looks like. Not only has she been successful in generating profit and growing her business, but she has maintained a socially responsible business that gives back to her community and provides a leadership role. Reem is one of those students that is a sponge for knowledge. I am really proud of the success that Reem has achieved and will continue to closely monitor her progress as she becomes one of the premier businesses in the Arab world in the tourism industry,” said Dr. Maha ElShinnawy, Professor of Leadership and Ethics and Director of 10,000 Womenat the American University in Cairo since its founding in 2008.
The Goldman Sachs10,000 Womeninitiative at AUC School of Business serves women entrepreneurs from across the Arab region, including Egypt and its governorates. It fosters economic growth by providing women entrepreneurs around the world with a business and management education, mentoring and networking through a network of business advisors, and access to capital. To-date, the program has graduated more than 400 entrepreneurs. Globally, 10,000 women has reached women from across 56 countries through a network of 100 academic, nonprofit, and bank partners.Graduates of the program experience immediate and sustained business growth, with nearly 70% increasing their revenue, 60% adding new jobs, and 90% paying it forward by mentoring other women in their communities.