From Egypt with Love

Egyptian entrepreneurs turn to e-Residency to kickstart their talent-on-demand service business tod-Z

Cairo, Egypt. Photo by Tienko Dima on Unsplash

Sherif Adnan and Omayma Rashwan have a lot in common. Both are founders of tod-Z, a new talent-on-demand platform that connects freelancers with clients and vice versa. Both are Egyptian. Both have a decade’s worth of experience working for multinationals in commercial strategies and marketing, business development and sales. And, as of last year, both Adnan and Rashwan are Estonian e-residents.

They are also married and have two small children.

“We complement each other very well,” says Adnan of his counterpart. “She is my partner, cofounder, and wife.” Rashwan agrees. “We always try to support each other closely, because we are partners in life and in business,” she says.

tod-Z’s Omayma Rashwan and Sherif Adnan

The “tod” in tod-Z stands for “talent on demand.” The Z stands for Generation Z, the rising generation of young entrepreneurs. The company wants to engage young talent just as they enter the market, building relationships that could last decades. The platform is available for use by anybody, though, they stress, users must be internet friendly.

Tod-Z’s platform is built around a few core principles. One is that talent should be assessed for their technical skills and aptitude just once, when joining the tod-Z platform, meaning that once they are accepted into the platform after taking a series of assessment tests, they do not need to continuously undergo assessments each time they take on projects from clients. The platform’s multi-tiered assessment process relies on artificial intelligence tools along with in-house human resources experts. CVs and resumes are screened, and talent is assessed via several aptitude and skills tests.

A second principle of the platform is that the process should be anonymized, so that the client is assured that the talent is capable of doing the job, yet does not know the talent’s personal data.

“We find that lots of freelancers and talents suffer from the idea of being under a preset psychology or preset perception of their nationality or their gender or even their marital status,” notes Rashwan.

Tod-Z solves these issues with its anonymized platform. Talent and clients are assigned identities, but personal information is not divulged. “All of our clients and talents are anonymous to each other,” says Adnan. “The question is only about your abilities. Are you able to do what the clients need you to do? It’s not about sending personal information or chitchatting,” he says. Tod-Z also has a project management tool that allows talent to communicate milestones on projects to clients. The platform is still being introduced, Adnan notes. While the tod-Z service for talent went live in July, its interface for clients will roll out in the next few weeks.

From Cairo to … Tallinn?

When one thinks of a company run by a husband and wife duo from Cairo, one thinks perhaps of desert heat, palm trees, ancient citadels, and, of course, the slow rolling waters of the Nile. But tod-Z is actually an Estonian company and its development team is based in Estonia.

Its management team is also quite international. Its CFO lives in South Africa, and its CTO lives in the US.

So what lured its Egyptian founders to incorporate in Estonia and to become e-residents?

The promise and potential of Europe, says Rashwan.

“We have been traveling to Europe on average five times a year for the past 10 years,” she says. “When we learned about e-Residency and that we could have an online business, and have a finance company supporting us there, we really warmed to the idea,” she says. “We find e-Residency to be a smart system that will boost and enlarge Estonia’s economy, while supporting talent.”

Learn more about how e-Residency can help you bring your business to Estonia and enter the European Market, while managing it remotely:

There is also the fact that, because of the e-Residency program, there exists a network of talent and freelancers associated with the country that could benefit from working via an innovative platform like tod-Z. “It’s easier for us to kick off from where there are a lot of freelancers,” says Rashwan. It also makes sense for the tod-Z’s founders, as Tallinn is just a four-hour flight from Cairo, meaning they can easily transit back and forth.

Adnan also believes the network created by e-Residency will help tod-Z grow its business while it helps others in turn. Adnan says:

“I am a big believer in partnerships and e-Residency supports a huge startup community. These startups can also support each other and even barter. We could assist with finding talent, for example, in exchange for IT services.”

Partnerships between e-residents are even easier now with the recent launch of the e-Residency Company List, a secure platform for e-residents to showcase their businesses in order to find new customers and business partners. Check it out and add your profile today.

A shift in mindsets

Adnan and Rashwan founded tod-Z before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, but the experience has been transformative for the firm as it has for all companies and in some surprising ways. When they were drawing up plans for tod-Z, they imagined that they would have to invest a lot of time and energy into educating new clients about the benefits of hiring talent that works from home.

With the pandemic, and the move to remote working, that is no longer a challenge.

“I think the pandemic shifted people’s mindsets,” says Adnan. “I think everyone agrees that this is the future.” It is in this new reality that tod-Z’s co-founders believe a talent-on-demand service like theirs can thrive.

“The number of freelancers and entrepreneurs has risen,” adds Rashwan. “The whole world is moving toward another lifestyle,” she says. “So why not cooperate to make it a better world for everybody?”

You can find out more on the tod-Z website or connect with Sherif, Omayma and tod-Z on Linkedin or Facebook.

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