Samih Sawiris: born for business.

When the business of entrepreneurship is in your blood, it's in your blood. Let's face it; Samih Sawiris was never going to end up as a pen pusher at a prestigious big-name firm. With one of the most successful businessmen on the African continent as his father and role model, the Egyptian had much bigger shoes to fill.

"Your parents are your idols. Whether you like it or not, you will always compare yourself to them," says Sawiris. "And my father is a star--not just to us. He is recognised as such in the region and beyond. He has set the bar very high!"

Family patriarch, Onsi Sawiris, led by example when teaching his three sons that even in adversarial circumstances, innovation, fearlessness and the courage to do your own thing, can lead to success. Officially the richest man in Egypt today, the now 81year-old founder of Orascom, lost his business twice to political upheavals--yet he still managed to re-build it a third time.

Today, Orascom is the largest private employer in Egypt and the largest Egyptian company by market capitalisation. Onsi's three sons, Naguib, Samih and Nassef have added to the legacy, each building his own commercial empire under the Orascom name. Naguib, the eldest and 'the gent', according to Samih, is in telecommunications; while the youngest son, Nassef, 'the tank', is in construction--the source of their father's original wealth. Samih is CEO and Chairman of the Swiss holding company Orascom Development Holding SA (OD Holding), with headquarters in Altdorf. Since May 2008, OD Holding has been the parent company of Cairo-based Orascom Hotels & Development.

The entrepreneurial spirit in his genes

Samih Sawiris had his path mapped out from an early age. Almost from the word go, the young Coptic Christian meant business. Sawiris reminisces that "it was beautiful to be the middle child, because I was always left to do what I wanted." During childhood family seaside holidays, he would set off in the mornings, bucket in hand, in search of the big catch. His goal wasn't simply to bring home a fish big enough for a family feast by the beach. He wanted lots of fish, so he could sell them to the well-to-do families in the resort. From there, his ventures became more ambitious. As a teenager at a German school in Cairo, Sawiris recognised the business potential when his expatriate teachers left the country, and he made a tidy profit from selling their unwanted household items.


Today, Sawiris's business empire spans eight countries on three continents, including Egypt, Jordan, Oman and Switzerland...

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