Hosna Mohamed Rachid, Chairman, Rachid Mashreq Group. SPECIAL COMMENTS: Ms Hosna Mohamed Rachid graduated from the German School in Alexandria, a Roman Catholic school run by nuns. She has a B.A. in economics from the Faculty of Commerce at Alexandria University and a diploma in global asset management and finance. In 1976 she started working in her father’s business in the sales and marketing division. The Rachid Mashreq Group is a family business focusing on manufacturing and marketing fast-moving consumer goods across the Middle East. The group was founded by her father Mr Mohamed Rachid who passed away in 1997. Ms Rachid’s brother took over the company as chairman. In 2004 he became Egypt’s minister of industry and trade and Ms Rachid was appointed chairman. The group has five divisions, one of which is Unilever Mashreq, a foods, home and personal care manufacturing and marketing operation covering Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Sudan. The operation produces a range of products such as Lipton tea, Dove soap and OMO detergent. One of the other divisions, Dreem Egypt, is run by her younger sister. The group has 9,000 employees divided over seven factories located in the 6th of October and Borg El Arab industrial areas. Between seven and nine people are on the executive committee of each company. The boardroom is situated in the renovated office of Ms Rachid’s father. He was a great supporter of the arts and a part of his collection of Egyptian contemporary paintings and sculptures are on display in this room. She uses two meeting tables, a smaller one in her office and a larger one in the former office of her father, which I photographed. She prefers to be seated in the middle of the left long side of the table close to the wall. Ms Rachid is very active in more than 20 social and non-executive positions. The most important one is her presidency of the Mohamed Rachid Association for Cultural and Social Development, a charitable organization founded by her father in Alexandria serving more than 27 villages in rural areas. Some 100 people work for the foundation. It has set up many schools for the education of women and children. At its headquarters she showed me a creative workshop for people with mental disabilities, another aspect of the foundation’s work. Ms Rachid lives in a family-owned apartment building. The dining table is used every day when she is home. It can seat 14 people, but on a regular base it is used by two to six people. At formal dinners she sits in the middle. The table setting is partly in her own style and partly in her mother’s. The tablecloth was handmade in Hong Kong and the painting is from Indonesia. Ms Rachid is a kind, modest, warm-hearted woman, who puts her energy into the social activities of her father’s legacy. She said: ‘I feel that the most important thing is to help people, not to make a lot of money.’ She proudly showed me photograph albums of activities of the Mohamed Rachid Association. Her hobbies are collecting art and reading. She speaks five languages. In March 2006, Ms Hosna Mohamed Rachid was elected ninth by the magazine Forbes Arabia in its list of ‘50 Most Powerful Businesswomen in the Arab World’.
Jacqueline Hassink, Hosna Mohamed Rachid Chairman, Rachid Mashreq Group
Series: Arab Domains
20 September 2006 (left), 21 September 2006 (right)