As Egypt’s booming entrepreneurial scene continues to grow, we speak to RSM Egypt Consulting FPO, a company dedicated to helping startups strengthen their foundations to attract investors and boost their impact.
Despite the Egyptian tax environment being very attractive for both foreign and local companies, some Egyptians are choosing to register their business abroad due to the difficulties and intricacies of the procedure. “Startups need consulting, not only to organise the business in such a way that it complies with Egyptian law, but also to be on top of the developments and opportunities in the country,” says Cherif Hammouda, whose company RSM Egypt Consulting FPO is incubating startups and boosting entrepreneurial impact in Egypt and beyond.
As the company celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, they are hosting an event at Cairo’s iconic Citadel tonight, where they will honour the work of the 250 professionals who are helping entrepreneurs build their businesses the smart way.
“What every entrepreneur should know is that building a strong foundation is paramount,” says Mohamed Hammouda, the company’s Financial Consulting Director. “When starting a business, most entrepreneurs forget about the foundations and when the company gets bigger, they realise they were weak; and its those foundations that will actually attract investors,” he tells CairoScene.
“Their main problem is that they usually do not understand the tax requirements. Most focus on revenue and expenses on their side, and find out the importance of taxes once they have piled up,” he adds.
Founded in 1995, RSM Egypt Consulting FPO together with their sister firm RSM Egypt Chartered Accountants became a member of RSM International two years later, joining the seventh largest network of independent audit, tax and advisory firms in the world, a firm which counts representatives in over 100 countries.
Boasting a portfolio that includes international companies as well as local market leaders such as Jumia and Diwan, the company prides itself in supporting the growth of Egyptian startups, a sector experts define as the revolutionary movement reshaping economies across the world. For the past four years, the company has also been serving as an incubator for Egyptian prominent startups such as Be Fit Egypt, The POP-UP Shop, VentureDash, and Ripplemark.
“After the 2011 revolution, we began looking into startups and offering them a Financial Process Outsourcing (FPO) package, where we focus on everything beyond the core business. It’s specifically customised for startups, with a very affordable price,” Mohamed Hammouda says, “We try to make sure that they are doing everything right."
The financial expert explains that while most entrepreneurs resort to a lawyer when starting a business, the lack of business experience can sometimes bring about further difficulties. “What we do is to offer a legal department which not only advises on the kind of business to set up, but also helps them do it,” he says, “Many of them invest a lot of money and do not get invoices, so when the moment of paying taxes comes, they realise the expenses will not be deducted."
Tailoring their services and fees to each of the entrepreneur’s needs, the firm offers reduced prices for startups. “We want them to realise that consulting is not an expense that will hinder their business, but an investment whose return they will see in the long term.”
“We understand that starting up a new business can be an overwhelming experience,” adds chairman Sabry Heakal. “Skilfully developing a short and long-term strategy is a daunting task, let alone mastering all the legal details of getting the business started. That’s why we manage all startup regulatory matters and assist entrepreneurs in developing their accounting systems,” he says.
The owners of strong entrepreneurial skills themselves, the minds behind RSM help businessmen and startup founders boost the performance of their organisations by tapping into each of their client’s businesses. “Our philosophy is simple. Each of our clients receive complete, undivided personal attention, as if they were our only clients. And that is the reason for our success,” says Cherif Hammouda, whose expertise in international taxation earned him a PhD at Cheshire University.
Aside from assisting startups, the firm also masters management and domiciliation, administration and reporting, as well as legal and secretarial services to help businessmen understand the constantly changing legal regulations and implement them. “We use an approach that brings international best practices and sectors benchmarks to tailor solutions for each business' challenges and needs,” says RSM’s co-founder Heba El-Semary.
With six offices across Cairo, Alexandria and Tanta, RSM boasts both global reach and a local perspective, helping company founders see further, adapt faster and grow stronger. “When starting or restructuring their business, entrepreneurs have many things to worry about. Our take is: who says you can’t do it differently?” El-Semary concludes.
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