The Global Network of Egyptian Professionals Takes Off
It comes as no surprise that the most innovative platforms and digital networks are brought about by a need for change. Prior to the founding of EPN, and with many ground-breaking Egyptian pioneers peppered on the global map, there had been few to no tangible ways for these ingenious minds to find one another digitally to collaborate, contribute to the growth of Egypt’s local organizations, and support aspiring young Egyptians to follow in their footsteps and create more positive change.
This was Mona El-Kheshen’s dilemma in March 2019 – the year EPN was born. With over 15 years of experience in strategic marketing and leadership in the corporate world, El-Kheshen felt the need to connect with like-minded professionals in a community where knowledge could be openly and generously shared in a digital space.
Despite living in a so-called ‘networked’ society, the former Cole-Parmer Regional Marketing Director stumbled upon only a few social media groups and forums, none of which seemed sufficient for the idea she had in mind. Little did El-Kheshen know, this very dilemma was a catalyst for an incredible change, thanks to which a diverse community of local and expat professionals was founded. Fast-forward two years, and EPN has become a continually growing network harboring Egyptian experts from around the globe.
HOW IT STARTED
EPN came to fruition as a full-blown digital network that connects Egyptian professionals worldwide, in March 2019.
“I looked around me to see if I’d already belonged to a community that had success-driven individuals from different fields and I couldn’t find one that I was aware of on any social media platforms. So, I decided I would give it a go. I started EPN as a closed Facebook group that same night,” El-Kheshen shared.
In only two years, the network grew from having a few hundred members to over 8,400 professionals from myriad different backgrounds and fields. The community recently launched their corporate website and have since been continually building partnerships with notable Egyptian organizations for the purpose of providing members with exclusive benefits that help them forge their own path of success.
“The foundation of EPN is built on collaboration. We believe that our role is to create an enabling, positive space that helps our community members interact and share knowledge,” El-Kheshen explained.
WHO ARE EPNERS?
The founder of the digital network describes EPNers as success-driven, high-potential individuals with diverse life experiences and skillsets. Members from over 60 countries and 120 cities bring different insights to the table, and despite that, the digital network is impeccably organized thanks to what El-Kheshen coins “the secret sauce of EPN.”
Although they boast different acumen in diverse fields, what brings members together is their drive to make a difference and their generosity in sharing their know-how. “When you mix that mindset of being collaborative with diversity, you have EPN,” El-Kheshen elaborated.
WHO CAN JOIN?
Although EPN is a closed community with selective board members, success is not the network’s sole interest. “I’d like to make a distinction between being successful and being success-driven. Whilst the majority of our network comprises CEOs, business leaders, business owners, and notable personalities, we look for members who are success-driven. We have members who are as young as 16 years old who are doing amazing things,” El-Kheshen clarified.
The EPN community is made up of a global and diverse group of Egyptian professionals, business owners, C-level executives, and influential decision-makers. According to the community leaders, the network aims to provide a vital and interactive space for minds to meet, share, collaborate and help each other no matter where we are.
Since its launch as a Facebook group, the community quickly grew to become a safe, trusted space for EPNers to create new, meaningful connections and make a positive impact on each other’s professional lives through collaboration, knowledge sharing, peer-to-peer support, and building new partnerships.
INTO THEIR NEXT BIG THING
The exclusive network does not stop at helping its own members; EPN has recently expanded beyond the borders of its community by launching UNLOCK– an online sister platform that lists the finest Egyptian service providers by category.
The goal of the platform is to connect Egypt’s most talented professional service providers with customers who are actively searching for their services. Because Egyptian customers struggle to find trusted and talented service providers, people usually rely on word-of-mouth recommendations. This usually limits the talent pool that they can get access to.
UNLOCK aims to provide a simple solution for anyone looking for talented and trustworthy service providers. The platform allows users to browse over 20 categories of services, read their customer reviews, and easily reach out to them for more information – this is a free service that is accessible to everyone and no registration is required.
Although initially, the crowd-sourced review website was developed for EPN members, both as a reference of previously recommended businesses on the EPN platform and as a means to help connect service providers with their target demographic, it is accessible to Egyptians within and outside the platform.
“In Egypt, there is currently no reliable way to find the most talented or best service providers in the industry. So, people tend to ask their friends for recommendations, and it tends to be primarily based on word of mouth. The problem with that is it’s all limited and dependent on whom your network knows,” El-Kheshen explained.
SETTING DIGITAL FOOTPRINTS: JOINING FACEBOOK’S COMMUNITY ACCELERATOR PROGRAM
Last year, EPN was selected amongst 77 of the most impactful communities globally to take part in the six-month Facebook Community Accelerator, which attests to the scale of recognition that the community has received in under two years.
“Community startups are different from other types of startups because, by definition, community startups are driven by a social mission at their core, and that’s very different from just having a product or service that you’re trying to sell. The Facebook Community Accelerator has helped enable our community startup to grow and become sustainable,” the founder said.
EPN has also recently built promising partnerships, the most notable of which was with the AUC School of Business. “We are open for strategic partnerships that add value to our community and that are aligned to our goals and values as an organization. This is why we were delighted to sign a Cooperation Protocol with the AUC School of Business last year. This partnership allows us to provide EPN members with guaranteed scholarships for the MBA and Executive MBA Programs at the AUC. This is a significant milestone for both EPN and the AUC School of Business, as this is the first time they enter into such a partnership with a digital community,” El-Kheshen added.
The community leaders believe that the biggest benefit of being an EPNer is having full access to an incredible pool of talent, knowledge, and experience across all industries – and community members are both highly engaged and incredibly generous with their time and knowledge.
Exclusive benefits of being an EPNer include but are not limited to:
- Recruitment opportunities
- Making professional connections at the click of a button
- Access to advice from specialized experts in a myriad of fields
- Being featured as one of Egypt’s top service providers on the UNLOCK platform
- Access to unique and exclusive Masterclasses, workshops, and sessions on a variety of topics from world-class experts
- Exclusive networking events
- Stimulating talks and debates
- Access to graduate school scholarships
- Sharing career dilemmas anonymously and having access to support
- Executive recruitment search for C-level executives
- Opportunities to give back to society in a structured way
Further, El-Kheshen stresses that the most notable benefit of being a part of the community is witnessing the generous exchange of support and know-how, while simultaneously being granted the opportunity to make lasting meaningful connections and positive impact by collaborating with like-minded people.
“We believe that when you start by giving, you end up receiving multiples in return if you’ve got the right mindset. There’s so much knowledge being shared and many partnerships being made through EPN every day,” she explained.
EPN has grown to become more than a collaborative professional network that caters to professionals and aspiring entrepreneurs alike; both established organizations and startups can benefit from being a part of the community, where one can learn from the experts and share their professional as well as personal experiences.
In short, EPN is the perfect example of a successful community startup that has received wide recognition from the media and other social communities in the span of two years. It continues to grow with the sole mission of supporting success-driven individuals in creating positive change, allowing them to contribute to the cycle of knowledge-sharing to help local and expat Egyptians achieve their full potential and manifest the change they wish to see in the world.