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Category: Business and Industry

Date Submitted: 11/17/2012 01:08 PM

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Diwan: A Tale of Heart over Matter

During their annual meeting on December 1st, 2009, the managing partners of Al-Sharq for Bookstores—Diwan were examining the effects of their increased expansion over the last two years. The study of the financial statements revealed an unpredictable situation that jeopardized the vision they had for their company. As a result of its fast expansion all over Egypt from December 2007 to December 2009, Diwan suffered from a steep increase in expenses which were not covered by the revenues generated from the different outlets. As the executive board, Hind Wassef, Nihal Schawky, and Nadia Wassef had to take several tough decisions before the end of January 2010 to save their business.

Entrepreneurs' Background

Driven by their passion for reading and culture, Hind and Nadia Wassef graduated from the American University in Cairo (AUC) with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and English and comparative literature in 1991 and 1994 respectively. Both sisters went on to get Master’s degrees, in English and comparative literature in 1994 and 1996. Afterwards, Nadia continued her education at the University of London where she obtained another Masters degree in Social Anthropology in 2000. The start of the twenty-first century witnessed the shift of the two sisters away from a decade spent working in social reform movements especially pertaining to women’s rights and their interest in an entrepreneurial pursuit that would not only re-shape their personal lives but also contribute to a cultural reform in the Egyptian society. Joined by their friends Ziad Bahaa El-Din, Nihal Schawky, and Ali Dessouki, they founded Diwan Bookstore.

The introduction of Diwan to the Egyptian market bridged the gap between the book starved customers and the book retailers. Some Bookstores offered a limited variety of books which were rarely updated or disorganized. Hence, to acquire the desired publications some book hungry individuals had to resort to...