Family Entrepreneurship: “Whose Dream Is It Anyway?” – Farida El Agamy

By Jinan Aldameary

untitled1One of the many challenges that characterizes the realm of family entrepreneurship is the way in which business is passed on from one generation to the next. Riddled with responsibilities and standards by which they are expected to abide, family entrepreneurs often struggle to find their own path as they carry on the entrepreneurial legacy of the family.

The Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al Qassimi Chair in Family Business at the American University of Sharjah recently organized an open discussion facilitated by Farida El Agamy, the general manager of the non-profit family business forum, Tharawat, addressing some of the most common challenges facing family businesses – creating, developing, and nourishing entrepreneurship orientation across generations.

The interactive session, hosted by Sheraa, was titled “Whose Dream Is It Anyway?”, and highlighted the challenge of discerning an entrepreneur’s personal impact in the grander scheme of things, and the way in which one’s individuality can be strategically navigated.

El Agamy acknowledged the “mind-game” often undergone by many entrepreneurs upon their initial partaking in a family business.

“What does it do to your drive when you feel like you have to fulfill someone else’s vision?” El Agamy asked an audience comprising of individuals who were either interested in – or part of – family businesses. “What about your vision? How can you fulfill your own dreams when you’re working on someone else’s?”

Drawing on her own experiences, El Agamy explained the importance of pinpointing what it is that makes every individual entrepreneur “tick” – that is, what one is most passionate about and skilled at. She highlighted the importance of integrating one’s own skillset within the greater context of the family business at hand.  By doing so, a family entrepreneur can maintain their individuality and cater to their own career goals all the while working as a member of a cohesive enterprise.

“You are a growth generator as part of a family enterprise,” El Agamy told her audience. “You’re bigger than just the business you have with your family. You have an impact.”

untitledIn her final remarks on how to effectively mesh one’s individuality within the greater entrepreneurial legacy of the family, El Agamy emphasized the importance of strategic action. “Use your individuality, but don’t overpower people. Be strategic with how you use it.”

El Agamy’s session is one of the initiatives headed by Dr. Rodrigo Basco, Chairholder Sheikh Saoud bin Khalid bin Khalid Al Qassimi Chair in Family Business, aiming to disseminate new knowledge to the student community, and to further develop the future leaders of family business in the UAE, GCC, and MENA regions.





Farida F. El Agamy has been running the Tharawat Family Business Forum, the non-profit, private sector knowledge resource and networking hub for family-owned companies in the Middle East and North Africa, since 2008. With her professional background as a lawyer, she joined the founders of the Tharawat Family Business Forum with a vision to support and foster the sustainability, innovation, and growth of family firms. She is currently also Editor-at-Large of the Tharawat magazine, and a Director at Target Developments LLC, her family’s firm in Switzerland.

Farida read law in Switzerland and the UK and qualified as a barrister at the Swiss bar. She practiced administrative, corporate and contract law in a Swiss law firm, and worked for several federal government agencies. Her previous professional experience also include positions as associate lawyer at the United Nations in Geneva.

Speaking six languages, Farida’s Dutch and Egyptian family backgrounds and international upbringing have shaped her global understanding and her active social engagement, pushing for a better understanding between regions and people.

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