Mumm: Egypt’s Recipe for Financial Independence

The Mumm app allows women in Egypt to earn financial independence by selling their homemade food.

The app Mumm provides local and refugee women in Cairo the opportunity to sell their homecooked food to the public. For many of the women involved, this is their only possibility to earn their own income and offers them the opportunity to gain financial autonomy.

Author Laura Wagener:

Translation Laura Wagener, 06.26.17

A poll carried out in 2013 among gender experts declared Egypt to be the worst country for women’s rights in the Arab world. It was the third study carried out into women’s rights following the Arab Uprisings in 2011 and looked at factors such as violence against women, treatment of women within the family, their reproductive rights and women’s role in politics and the economy. Gender roles are still largely tradition – meaning the men go to work while the women stay at home, with just over 20 per cent of women in the country’s labour force.

And while a 2010 poll by the Pew Research Center into global attitudes revealed that a majority of Egyptians (61 per cent of them) agree that women should be able to work outside the home, only 11 per cent of men completely agreed with the statement, and 75 per cent of them also admitted that they believed men have more right to employment than women do.

Abd El Rahman wants to use his online platform Mumm to help women in the country achieve financial independence – despite the seemingly limited opportunities that they have. His online delivery service offers homecooked food rather than restaurant fare: women can sign up on the platform, cook their favourite dishes as home as they normally would, and then offer them for sale via the app. “Mumm” employees take care of delivery.

Mumm: Where Integration Meets Profits

But it’s not just local women who are invited to take part. The Mumm team also works together with the Fard Foundation, a refugee organisation that ensures that women who have arrived in the country from Syria, Iraq and Sudan are also able join the app.

The hungry app users are able to enter their location and can then see the meals that are currently being offered in their areas. When they’ve decided what they want, they’re able to order single portions or enough for a whole family. For now, the app only covers the city of Cairo.

© Mumm

To ensure that the meals really are cooked with love and care, users can – just like on Yelp or TripAdvisor – leave a review for the food they purchase, and also read the feedback left by other users. Another plus point: the lack of overheads means that meals can be offered for around 20% less than consumers would find in restaurants..

It’s estimated that the chefs earn up to 300 euro a month from their culinary creations. The student Jala Riad uses the income to finance her studies – being employed in anything outside the home would be impossible for her to manage, she says. And Iman Omanein, who fled to Egypt from Syria, uses her income from cooking to provide for her family.

Why Mumm?

“Mumm is a 7,000-year-old hieroglyphic word that means ‘food’.” Abd El Rahman explains. “It evolved to be the first word that an Egyptian toddler learns to say to indicate that they are hungry. For Egyptians ‘mumm’ is food. Local people smile when they hear it.”

The app was picked by the World Economic Forum and the International Finance Corporation as one of 100 startups from North Africa and the Middle East that are using digital technologies to promote social change. And while it might not promise a fundamental shift in women’s status within the country, or an increase in their rights, it does at least offer the opportunity of financial emancipation and strengthens their links to the local economy.

This article is a translation of the original which appeared on RESET’s German-language platform.

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