Meet Heba El Gabaly: CEO & Founder of Efreshli 

Heba El Gabaly Efreshli

Efreshli started coming to life in 2018 when Heba El Gabaly was living in Dubai. She had been a partner managing the retail operations at Eklego for 8 years in Egypt. Heba El Gabaly had noticed that in terms of design and furniture, everything was moving to online platforms. She had also noticed the influx of brands and products on social media. There was a gap in creating a full shopping experience from one place. As a result, Heba El Gabaly started reaching out to several furniture brands in Egypt to join Efreshli, and they did right away. From that moment, Efreshli was born and it has been growing ever since. From a team of 3 to a full team of 38 people working with 138 brands in just a few months, Efreshli truly knows what hard work and passion mean. 

We sat down with Heba El Gabaly to know more about her journey with Efreshli!

Heba ElGabaly

How would you describe what Efreshli does?

Efreshli is a home destination that makes it easy for customers to furnish their homes. We have a team of professional designers that help customers choose the right products based on their own style and budget. With partnerships with over 120 of Egypt’s best established and up-and-coming brands, there is a huge range of products and price points. 


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People can see how furniture will look in their space before shopping for it. Through our custom-built technology, we’ve created tools that make it easier for designers to do their work and for customers to receive and make decisions on their designs. The service is affordable and convenient as the process is done online. We also have an e-commerce platform where customers can shop individual home products or curated collections directly through our website or app.

Tell us about the message you want to send through Efreshli 

A company that looks successful from the outside always starts small. So, if you have an idea that you think you can make happen,  just start. 

Don’t overthink it. 

It will evolve in many ways along the way. The most important thing is to start and find great people that will work with you to build something. Team is everything.


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What motivates you?

Seeing things move from idea to reality. I love working with driven people who want to achieve big things. 

Work is a team sport, and it really matters who you play with.

What is it like leading a team in Egypt while working from Dubai? How does the process work?

I believe that the main job of any leader is to hire the right people and set the culture and direction that enables them to achieve. The important thing is to set a vision and clarity about what needs to be done. It still requires many hours and hard work, but it doesn’t matter if I’m sitting at the office in Egypt or in Dubai. It requires a lot of strategy setting, action planning, and communicating.

Efreshli Team

Our team is now 38 people made up of several different functions including design, technology, operations, e-commerce, and marketing. Those interdependencies and how people communicate with each other are vital.  Together we set our company KPIs and roadmap and have a process in place to measure & iterate. Over time, we’ve created our own culture and people know what it takes to succeed at Efreshli. This is the main way I can lead a team while not always being physically present. 

As a woman in a male-dominated field, what were the challenges that you faced as a CEO and founder for Efreshli, whether personally or professionally? 

Throughout my career, I was very lucky as I felt I faced very few challenges being a woman in business. Even when I would deal with craftsmen or go to factories, I always had the necessary support to facilitate this. I think the furniture industry is accommodating in this way and people want to work and create and they don’t care that much if you’re a woman or a man.


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My main challenges started when I started raising money for Efreshli as I tried to scale. This is when I felt it made a difference if you are a woman or man. I got asked a lot if  “this is a lifestyle business”  indicating underlying stereotypes that men surely don’t have to deal with. 

I also felt that the expectation was for women to ask for less and give away more of their business than men. You just need to work harder, stay the course, and prove that you have what it takes.

How, in your opinion, can powerful female entrepreneurs support each other?

I think we start earlier than we realize, by being role models to other women at the start of their careers. I remember when I was a fresh graduate & started my career at P&G how inspiring it was to see a woman in a powerful position in business. She was the marketing director and was driven and accomplished and I took notice especially because I had so few other role models to look up to. It influences us at a subconscious level in a very important way. It helps us paint a picture for ourselves of what’s possible and how we have agency over our own future and career.

 On another level, I also think we should be very honest about the differences women face as they grow in their careers and the flexibility they need if they become working mothers. I benefited from this flexibility, and I think it makes the workplace a much better place when women can take maternity leave and come back easily & stay engaged. It also helps to create a workplace where people work core hours but can have some flexibility to be there for their kids. 

When we give women room to juggle multiple priorities and succeed, we help each other.

Most Egyptian women have had to answer the question “Hanefra7 Biki Emta ” before in reference to marriage, despite any accomplishments they may have already made, what would/did you say in response to that question?

It’s a shame that society still defines women largely on this single dimension.

The irony is that this question comes more from women than from men which signals that this is the metric many women still define themselves largely based on.

As much as it annoys me, I would just brush off the question and focus on defining my own self-identity. The only way you change mindsets is by changing what people see on a tangible level. When many women are represented in important roles in business and society and their achievements are visible & celebrated, people have no choice but to respect and aspire to this.

What are your goals for the future and what can we expect from Efreshli?


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My vision is for Efreshli to become a regional brand with a strong presence in Egypt, UAE, and Saudi Arabia. My team and I have already started this journey and are looking forward to making it come true!

You can check out Efreshli’s website for more!

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