This month we head to Egypt to highlight another inspirational youth entrepreneur from the Ye! Community.
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Mohamed Khaled set up Mok3b, the first co-working space in Ismailia, Egypt in 2015. Mohamed’s passion is to create communities and over the course of 5 years, Mok3b has blossomed beyond an environment for working, to a home for workshops, local university clubs, seminars, learning, discussions, music concerts and as a partner for social initiatives. Ye! sat down with Mohamed to discuss Mok3b and his journey as an entrepreneur.
Firstly, what does the name Mok3b mean?
Mok3b is pronounced Moka'ab and it means cube in Arabic. There are 6 square faces on a cube and each face or square represents a different idea or point of view. These come together to form a compelling multifaceted vision represented as a cube. I chose the name Mok3b as a symbol of the multiple points of view and ideas of the community. Here we all come together to create, learn and develop projects and initiatives.
How did you develop the idea for Mok3b and what makes it unique?
Mok3b is the first co-working space in Ismailia. We have worked with non-profit organizations (NGOs) as well as international public bodies such as the British Council to make Mok3b a space for events in Ismailia.
In my experience, I have found that most activities and initiatives supporting entrepreneurs are centralized in big cities. If you want to learn new things and expose yourself to new ideas, you would need to travel to Cairo or Alexandria, which is not possible for everyone. I set up Mok3b to break the cycle and decentralize resources by creating a local community and activity club as well as a co-working society in Ismailia that could bring people together. We are not just a co-working space, we provide support for local start-ups, seminars and workshops, as well as a space for the enjoyment of the arts with music concerts and jamming sessions.
Mok3b is a home-grown business, so our client base is the local community. Mok3b has grown organically, based on the engagement with our clients, most of which work on projects and initiatives that benefit the community. We are a space to develop ideas and share learning. Takatof Suez Canal University is an example of a local initiative organized in collaboration with Mok3b. Takatof spearheaded a blood donation drive, which also educating the community about the importance of regular blood donation. The campaign focused on galvanizing the local community in Ismailia to get involved and donate blood.
The Takatof blood donation drive is now a regular campaign and achieves better results each time as we reach and engage more members of the community. We have seen an increase in collective understanding of blood donation and the number of blood donors continues to grow each year. By providing a co-working space for Takatof events and meetings, Mok3b is also contributing to raising health awareness in the local community.
How does Mok3b support the local community?
We provide space and support for a number of activity clubs, such as Enactus Ismailia. The name Enactus stands for Entrepreneurship, Action, and Us. Enactus is a global not-for-profit initiative in universities in over 40 countries. I was involved as a founder of the Suez Canal University chapter in 2010 during my time as a student. The main idea of Enactus is to build an entrepreneurial ecosystem to give youth the experience of starting their own businesses through working on projects for local businesses.
One of my favourite projects was in 2012 with El Azima Club for people with disabilities. Enactus Ismailia constructed a new training ground on the Club's land for the disabled sportsmen and women. Mok3b also developed new revenue streams for the Club by renting the training ground to the broader community. After we finished the project, Randa Mahmoud, one of the Paralympic sportswomen trained in the Club and won a silver medal for weight lifting at the 2012 London Paralympics! In fact, I met the original co-founders of Mok3b through our mutual participation in Enactus. Since the start, Mok3b co-working space has aspired to be the hub for these types of initiatives, providing mentorship and support services.
To what do you attribute your current success?
Before I set up Mok3b, I toured co-working spaces across the country to learn about the concept and how I could bring this to Ismailia. Setting up was equivalent to the cost of an iPhone. I adjusted my business model in 2016 and was supported by my family, friends, and the local community. I started with just a small space to rent. Thinking back to the early days, it was not easy at the start and we even relied on local support to borrow a projector! However, within 9 months we moved to a new location (with our own projector)! The support of the community and my personal network contributed greatly to where Mok3b is today.
What do you do to keep on learning and developing as an entrepreneur?
I have studied the co-working industry around the world and there is a definite focus on the models developed in Europe and America. I wanted to get a better understanding of the co-working industry locally and what works here. I want to learn from, as well as contribute to, the co-working experiences and narratives from the African ecosystem. In addition, I have attended a lot of events, such as a co-working summit in Egypt. I have also studied cases like WeWork, in order to learn from its failures. Continuing to learn and share our experiences is key to our continued growth.
What are your future plans for Mok3b?
I aim to continue to develop the Mok3b philosophy as a local business and to ensure the exchange of ideas and learning continues. I also hope to expand to new locations in the future. In addition, I have an idea for an App. Watch this space!