Menna Farouk is a filmmaker with an MA in Television and Digital Journalism and a co-founder of 2 start-ups; ‘Dosy’ and ‘Lebet El Set’. She’s also a correspondent for the Thomas Reuters Foundation, a contributor to a multitude of international and local media outlets, and an editor at the Egyptian Gazette. We first reached out to her to talk about her short film ‘Bakery of a Woman’ but, as we knew more and more about her, we couldn’t help but ask about all her different endeavors.
Of course, the first question we asked Menna Farouk had to be about how she balances between all her professional undertakings.
She responded “I have a passion for everything I do which eliminates a lot of the stress. I do everything with a lot of love and passion.
“I am a jack of all trades and I am very proud of that. Actually, being a jack of all trades, an explorer, has always gotten more centered and connected towards who I really am.”
Menna Farouk had already established herself in the writing industry by 2019. Yet, thinking ahead, she pursued a masters degree in Television and Digital Journalism which, she believes, is the future of journalism. She completed her master’s degree earlier this year from the Kamal Adham Center at the American University in Cairo. “The program was all practical and it expanded my knowledge about filming, script writing, social media marketing and interviewing” she said.
For her final project, Farouk directed a short film titled ‘Bakery of a Woman’. It tells the story of 70-year old Afaf, a hardened woman who comes to manage a bakery after her husband gets sick. Her job requires her to be a boss over six men, who both fear and love her.
On Afaf she said…
“I had read an article that was published in a local newspaper a couple of years ago about her. I felt Afaf’s story would be great for my final project at the master’s program. She is a really kind, humble, strong and exceptional woman who is loved by her employees as well as all people in her neighbourhood. While she appears simple and ordinary, she has exceptional leadership skills.”
‘Bakery of a Woman’ was recently selected to compete in the Visions Cairo Egyptian Short Film Festival. This comes as one of Menna Farouk’s many achievements…
Menna was not only selected as a fellow in Shafik Gabr’s Foundation’s ‘East-West: The Art of Dialogue’ Initiative. She was also selected among 30 young emerging leaders in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia. And, most recently, she was named by the Startup Power competition one of the top 30 entrepreneurs in Egypt.
“My proudest moments are when I help positively affect the lives of others with whatever I am doing; whether it’s inspiring others through a story I write or film or creating jobs for underprivileged people through a startup.”
Farouk is a co-founder of two start-up; Dosy and Lebet El-Set
Her interest in entrepreneurship began in 2016, when she joined two startups –focused on women empowerment-that had been founded by her friends.
In 2019, she launched ‘Dosy’, an online platform that teaches women and girls how to ride scooters and bicycles. It won two awards. One from the DAAD’s Falling Walls Lab Cairo and the other from StartupPower which Egyptian businessman Ahmed Abu Hashima sponsors. She also launched Lebet el-Set which encourages women at-home cooks to deliver healthy food to people.
Currently, she’s working on a third startup called “Worth Telling”. It’s a digital media platform that tells stories of everyday average Egyptians through videos.
On her support system, she said…
“I owe my success to my family who have always been great and real supporters. I’ve been lucky because, throughout my career, I’ve always had people who supported me and given me chances.”
“Of course, I faced some challenges and rejections, but they never held me back or prevented me from pursuing my ambitions.”
We asked her what advice she would give to people hesitant to take on more than one profession. She responded “I want to encourage those people to never be afraid of being jacks of all trades. They should trust their creative intuitions and explore whatever connects them to themselves. At the end, we are different and diverse. Some people prefer to focus on one thing, others feel better when they do a lot of things at the same time.”
“I also want to encourage all women to have the courage to pursue their dreams. They should never lend an ear to people who want to limit their ambitions.”
You can watch Menna Farouk’s ‘Bakery of A Woman’ here.