In Cairo Frozen Yogurt Dream Melts in Wake of Violence and Upheaval

Frozen Yogurt in Cairo Could Not Withstand the Heat of Conflict
Frozen Yogurt in Cairo Could Not Withstand the Heat of Conflict

In early 2011 four young partners opened Egypt’s first frozen yogurt store. Prospects then were good, as long as the country could maintain some level of stability.

Unfortunately, two weeks after opening in the swank Cairo neighborhood of Zamalek, the mass demonstrations against Hosni Mubarak broke out, hitting the economy, including the new yogurt shop, hard. But things calmed down a bit, and by the fall of 2011 Bloomberg Business Week featured a story about “MaybeTwo,” the yogurt store that seemed to bounce back from the turmoil of the beginning of the year.

Not only did they survive, but they were thriving. In the fall of 2011 the partners were ready to open two more branches of their shop in Cairo.

“In five years’ time we want to be an international franchise,” one of the four partners, Mohamed Ashour, then 28, said at the time. “A lot of young people want to start businesses, especially after the revolution.”

Their dream, however, was not to be. After resisting corruption to such an extent that the chief executive of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo, Hisham Fahmy, described the foursome as “heroes,” and the drying up of credit because of the instability, the friends could not withstand the pressure.

“The guy who used to come to take $5 from me before was now coming to get $500,” one partner explained. “Corruption was skyrocketing.”

“We were undergoing terrible pressure,” a second partner, el-Sherif said. “Suppliers who used to give us 90 days’ grace period wanted payment after two days.”

In April the distraught investors closed one store, but tried to find financing for the other two, hoping that the political and economic scene in Egypt were get under control.

On June 1st they had no choice but to close down their other two yogurt shops. Now Cairo’s once flourishing Maybe Two stores are just a memory. Three of the four friends and partners have left the country. The partner still in Egypt heads a real estate operation. Another went to Kuwait and opened a fast-food outlet. The last two, a married couple, took their three year-old son to London. They are looking for regular jobs while they decide what their next investment should be.

“Egypt is not in a shape for us to raise a child there,” the partner in London explained on Sept 5, the day assailants bombed the motorcade of the Egyptian Interior Minister in downtown Cairo, nearly killing him. “We need somewhere where our child can play and not to be in this aggressive atmosphere,” el-Sherif said.

About Jonathon Bowes

Jonathan Bowes started his career in banking. After a few years, he took courses in business and finance and worked his way up the corporate ladder. Today, while writing part-time for Business District, Bowes assists talented people to find jobs in the field of economics. Contact Bowes at Jonathon[at]