Rana El Sakhawy is the founder and CEO of MonkiBox, an early learning platform that provides stage-based play tools and activities grounded in science and child-development research. On a mission to help parents feel confident and support their child’s early development, Rana focuses on increasing awareness of the importance of the early years and advocating for play-based learning.
Rana is a well-accomplished businesswoman holding a BSc in Business from Carnegie Mellon University and an MBA from IE Business School. She is a Cartier Women’s Initiative 2021 finalist and fellow, awarded for her impact created through MonkiBox, working towards Sustainable development. Prior to founding MonkiBox, Rana El Sakhawy was part of the initial team to launch and grow Uber in the Middle East. Monkibox is available online at https://www.monkibox.com and on Instagram at https://www.instagram.com/monkibox/ . Delivery is available in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah
Tell us a bit about yourself and the journey that led you to where you are now?
Ever since I was young, I have always been very entrepreneurial. I love problem solving, building and growing start-ups. Before starting MonkiBox, I was part of the initial team to grow Uber in the Middle East. During my time there, I had my first child and wanted to give her the best start in life but simply didn’t know how. I started doing my research and learned that 85 percent of your brain develops in the first three years of life. This is the most critical time for a child’s development, but most parents don’t know how to best support their child’s growth. I started MonkiBox to support parents and help them feel confident that they are helping their child learn through play. MonkiBox is a subscription program that supports early brain development with toys that turn playtime into a learning experience.
What have been some of the challenges you encountered while setting up your business?
Most of the challenges revolved around choosing the right setup for the business activity and ensuring that you are set up for growth as changes down the line tend to be expensive and inconvenient.
Do you believe gender factors in when you are setting up as well as leading an organization? If yes, is that a positive factor when it comes to the vision?
I believe female and male leaders tend to have different styles and approaches when it comes to leadership. One of the key things is that women tend to lead with empathy and focus on elevating others which has proven to be extremely powerful when it comes to creating effective teams.
How inclusive is your business and how does it empower your target audience?
MonkiBox prides itself on being very inclusive, our entire team is made up of amazing women who also are mums, so they really understand and are in the shoes of our customers on a daily basis.
What are some of the most memorable milestones – professional as well as related to your company?
It has been an amazing journey so far for MonkiBox, being chosen to be part of the Cartier Women’s Initiative was a tremendous achievement for us as it provided us with the credibility and resources to expand our impact and make early childhood development more accessible. The other huge achievement we have accomplished is designing and creating our products from scratch which is something that we have been working a long time to make happen.
How empowering is it to be a UAE-based company?
UAE is a thriving country that is supportive of its entrepreneurs, you feel the sky is the limit when it comes to available opportunities and you’re in the center of the most advanced entrepreneurship ecosystem in the region.