Get Connected: Entrepreneurship Is A Two-Way Street
One of my favorite moments from this year’s edition of STEP Conference was after Souq.com co-founder and CEO Ronaldo Mouchawar’s appearance on stage, when he stepped down and walked through what can perhaps best be described as an adoring audience. It was a sight to behold as the affable entrepreneur, fresh off his company’s acquisition by Amazon, weaved his way through the crowd, as they essentially mobbed him with everything from heartfelt congratulations, to startup pitches, to selfie requests.
What stood out to me was the manner in which Mouchawar reacted to all of the attention he was getting: he calmly posed for every snapshot, happily shook hands with everyone, and responded with ideas, advice and tips for all the entrepreneurs that approached him. Mouchawar had no airs about at him at all, and I was in awe of his patience and positive attitude. When I met Mouchawar for the interview that headlines this issue of Entrepreneur Middle East, I commended him on his behavior at the event, but Mouchawar didn’t think he had done anything special- according to him, what he did was just a matter of him giving back to the MENA entrepreneurial ecosystem, and that was something he needed to do as an entrepreneur in this region. “Entrepreneurship is a two-way street,” he told me. “You have to build knowledge, [and] you have to share it… People want to learn- they think you have done a process that they might have to go through. There are always learning pains, there are growing pains, there are experiences that you learn [from]. And, I think, as much as we internally focus on the company and our customers (and that has been where we put a lot of our investment), I think you need to always be connected to this ecosystem.”
With an attitude like that, it’s easy to see why Mouchawar has endeared himself to MENA’s entrepreneurs, and it’s a premise that others in this region should take to heart as well. Be it by speaking at a conference, or hey, by talking to media outlets like us, Mouchawar is, by sharing his knowledge and experience, playing a key role in helping this ecosystem grow, while educating and inspiring others to follow in his footsteps. And yes, there are benefits for those who engage in such interactions as well- Mouchawar claims that he’s lucky that he’s able to meet a lot of bright people, and their energy rejuvenates him. (“I have two passions: continue to build the business, and continue to work with entrepreneurs,” he says.) Mouchawar is aware of the value of what he does- as a Syrian hailing from the now-destroyed city of Aleppo, he knows that his entrepreneurial journey that led him to build a company that went to Amazon, is something that can provide hope to a lot of people in this region. And let’s be fair, hope is something we need to see more of in the Middle East- let’s take it upon ourselves to bring it about.
Aby Sam Thomas is the Editor in Chief of Entrepreneur Middle East. In this role, Aby is responsible for leading the publication on its editorial front, while also working to build the brand and grow its presence across the MENA region through the development and execution of events and other programming, as well as through representation in conferences, media, etc.
Aby has been working in journalism since 2011, prior to which he was an analyst programmer with Accenture, where he worked with J. P. Morgan Chase's investment banking arm at offices in Mumbai, London, and New York. He holds a Master's Degree in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York.