Rahet Bally: The Startup Empowering Mothers Across MENA
In this week’s Startup Spotlight, we speak with Rahet Bally founder Nadia Gamal El Din on meeting the needs of motherhood.
Motherhood may be one of the oldest professions in the world, but it is still considered an invisible job in many societies today. Egyptian startup Rahet Bally wants to change that.
Since its founding in 2015, the startup has been supporting women through all stages of motherhood, from pregnancy up to menopause. Providing knowledge, resources and tools, the all-inclusive platform aims to help women with their emotional, social, physical and financial well-being as they embark on their motherhood journey.
A former P&G brand manager turned entrepreneur, Nadia Gamal El Din launched her business soon after giving birth to her son. Frustrated with the lack of initiatives dedicated to mothers in Egypt at the time, she decided to create her own platform. “I was a new mom. I didn’t have any siblings, my friends didn’t give birth yet, and my mom didn’t remember anything,” Nadia Gamal El Din, Founder and CEO of Rahet Bally, tells StartupScene. “I went online, I couldn’t find credible answers to my questions, except for platforms that were based in the US or the UK. But it was not local, comprehensive, or tailored to the Egyptian mother.”
Fast forward eight years, Rahet Bally now reaches 74 million women every month across MENA, and is eyeing expansion to Saudi Arabia to continue supporting mothers across the region.
SOWING THE SEEDS
Despite the startup’s success, El Din struggled to get her business off the ground.
As a new mom, El Din was often discouraged from starting her own venture. “People would say, how can you start a startup when you’ve just given birth?” she says. “You’re going to a meeting with your baby? Who is even going to take you seriously? How are you coming to change the entire motherhood game in Egypt? It was a big challenge to prove that there is a need. To prove that I can do it, and I can do it with my baby as well.”
Indeed, El Din did show that there was a real market need for mothers in Egypt, and the region at large. Starting with a Facebook group, El Din onboarded doctors and experts from her postpartum checkups to provide women with 24/7 online support. After about a month, the page grew to over 20,000 mothers.
What started off as a passion project quickly turned into a full-fledged business. Rahet Bally now has a B2C and a B2B arm, serving both customers and brands across MENA.
“Our B2C subscription includes access to wellness and fitness programs, discounts, courses and online content,” El Din says. “For our B2B, we work with medium and large brands who have women as their target audience, creating different types of content including marketing campaigns, market research, on ground activations, and sponsorship opportunities.”
Today, the startup works with the likes of P&G, Unilever, and other leading FMCGs across the region.
Achieving profitability is key to the success of any startup, particularly during tough economic times. But for Rahet Bally, this was a priority from the get-go.
Instead of seeking funding, El Din relied on bootstrapping to finance her startup. This ultimately led to Rahet Bally's success, since by year two of operations it was already profitable. Being cost efficient, having good unit economics, and focusing on revenue enabled the startup to not only grow, but be sustainable in the long term. “I’m proud that it’s a bootstrapped startup, because it really teaches you how to create what the users need, how to be customer centric, and how to be frugal and efficient with your resources,” El Din says.
Contrary to popular belief, fundraising is not the only route for founders, particularly female founders. According to data from Wamda, female founded startups in MENA raised a total of $34.6 million in 2021, or just 1.2% of the region’s venture capital funding. That’s why El Din advises entrepreneurs to consider other alternatives.
“Fundraising is a huge issue for female founded startups, because there is always a stereotype, that if you’re a woman, a mother, or if you have kids, you won’t be really dedicated,” says El Din. “But as controversial as this may sound, you don’t really need to always raise. Growing your company with the right vision, without being fragmented with the different needs, demands and interests from different VCs, can make all the difference.”
Recognised for its impactful work, Rahet Bally recently came in third place in Africa’s Business Heroes Prize Competition in 2022, which is considered one of Africa’s leading entrepreneurship competitions supported by the Jack Ma Foundation.
The prize money of $150,000 is being used to build a super app for women across MENA. The app comprises the startup’s B2C services in the region, including online content in the form of articles, videos and audio, as well as discounts on clinic visits, schools, transportation and even real estate. “We support moms financially, socially, emotionally, intellectually so that they can become more empowered to give better to themselves and to their children.”
Last year, the startup also received the African Women Award in the Mothercare category, and won the VC4A Venture Showcase Africa in the MENA region.
Looking to the future, Rahet Bally is now working on establishing on-ground facilities in KSA and providing more content on the platform to continue impacting women across the region. “Our goal is to allow moms to properly master motherhood, because when you invest in mothers, you invest in families, societies and the larger economies,” says El Din.