Teama Publishing isn’t Reham Teama’s first foray into entrepreneurship.
Born and raised in Egypt, she moved to Dubai in 2008, where she had her own business for several years. Then, in 2016, she immigrated to Canada.
Initially, Reham worked for an insurance company here, but towards the end of her maternity leave with her first child in 2019, she decided she wouldn’t be going back.
Instead, she launched a small business-to-business consulting firm.
“I was enjoying what I was doing, but then COVID hit in 2020 and it was a nightmare.”
Without a stable income and with the pressures of isolation and lockdowns, Reham says she started to experience depression. She can’t quite explain it, but she also started writing her memoirs, “out of the blue.”
“I started writing my own blog on Facebook. I wrote about my life in Dubai and in less than a year this page grew from one follower to 10,000 followers!”
Soon, Reham began to receive messages from her readers complimenting her as an author.
“I didn’t even know I could write, but I thought, ‘maybe they are right,’ and that encouraged me to explore different aspects of myself.”
As the blog’s popularity grew, Reham decided the next step was to try and publish it. Because it was written in Arabic, she found a self-publishing company in Egypt to work with but needed financing to move the project forward.
As luck would have it, a couple of years before, she’d been introduced to Rise. She applied to the Small Business Lending Program and secured a loan to help her cover expenses such as printing, shipping, organizing a book signing in Canada and attending the Cairo International Book Fair.
Both Cairo and the signing in Canada were a success.
“I was on TV and then I sold like 500 copies in less than a year,” Reham says. “I thought, ‘ok, I’m a real author,’ and decided to believe in myself.”
Thus, Teama Publishing was born.
With the success of her book, the publisher in Egypt proposed making Reham its agent for North America.
“I went from unpublished writer to published author and publisher too,” she says. All in little more than a year. “It has been a journey.”
Today, Teama Publishing is working to increase the exposure of Arabic authors in North America by connecting them with the publisher in Egypt. It’s also working to raise the profile of Arabic literature. Recently, Reham organized the first Arabic book fair in Florida, and she’s currently planning the first Arabic-Canadian book fair, to take place in Mississauga, Ontario, in March 2023.
She’s also investing in having her own book, Rosy Dreams, translated to English—which, incidentally, is the first of a trilogy.
“Without Rise, my first book would never have been published,” Reham says. “I needed the loan, and I used every single dollar. Of course, I’ve invested more, but that was a great, great contribution to get me started … and I feel like my hard work is paying off.”
Congratulations to Reham Teama, recipient of the 2022 Bell Let’s Talk Start-up Award.