Entrepreneurs of the Week: Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha - Careem

There is more to this inspiration story than the recent $60m funding success.
Entrepreneurs of the Week: Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha - Careem
By Tamara Pupic
Sun 15 Nov 2015 11:50 AM

You may assume it is the $60 million in Series C funding, which Careem secured from a group of high-profile venture capitalists last week, that has earned the co-founders, Magnus Olsson and Mudassir Sheikha, this week’s Entrepreneurs of the Week accolade.

However, there is more to the story behind this homegrown app for booking private, chauffeur-driven cars, such as the fact that all of its 250+ employees – ‘Careemers’ – have share options in the firm.

“We all act as owners of the company which we are and this can be seen by the spectacular results we have seen the company achieve,” said an employee in a phone interview.

The Careem team is made up of 22 nationalities, with an average age of 30-years-old, and is a mix of people ranging from Ivy-league educated professionals to fresh graduates.

The company’s name, derived from the Arabic word kareem - meaning ‘generous’ or 'to be free in giving or sharing' – is a result of the co-founders’ bid to emphasise the notion of meaningfulness.

Launching as a corporate service, the co-founders soon responded to the specific needs of regional customers by, for example, building a dedicated fleet of cars with child seats pre-installed or allowing them to use their services to deliver a document or other important items.

Lastly, they are ‘careem’ to their driers, know as captains. Olsson said in an interview with Arabian Business StartUp earlier this year: “Most of them are humble, from the sub-continent and poorer parts of the Middle East, and have come here to make a living. But let’s just say they have not always been treated amazingly by people. People tell them they’re late, they’re smelly, they don’t speak good English, and nobody has really given them a chance.

“So we wanted to work with the captains and invest in them so that they are not just financially better off by working with us, but also proud of what they are doing.”

Looking at the numbers, Careem has given enough reasons to investors to ‘be careem’ to them.

Since the establishment of the firm in Dubai in 2012, the company has witnessed strong growth month-on-month of over 30 percent across its core markets of the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. It currently operates in 20 cities from Morocco to Pakistan.

Do you know an entrepreneur who deserves to be our Entrepreneur of the Week? Please send your nominations to neil.king@itp.com and tamara.pupic@itp.com

For information, tips and advice on setting up a new business or insights from those who have taken the leap into the world of entrepreneurship, click on the Arabian Business StartUp section.


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