A founder's perspective on why the last-mile in Egypt is always the longest

Yasmine has over 10 years of experience in human resources management and entrepreneurial leadership. Prior to her Co-founding Yalla Fel Sekka, Yasmine was the Human Resources Manager at Schlumberger’s global headquarters in Paris. Her expertise is widespread and encompasses Public Policy, Operations, Logistics, Supply Chain Management and Human Resources Management. 

Connect with and message Yasmine Abdel Karim on her MAGNiTT profile

If you live in or have ever visited Cairo or any of Egypt’s major cities, you will know that traffic is just part and parcel of everyday life as a citizen, but if there is one thing that Egyptians are great at, it's finding solutions to those everyday challenges. Home to a flourishing startup ecosystem, Egypt remains fertile ground for potential entrepreneurs thanks to a wealth of young talent and a drive to do something different and new.

It is against this backdrop that businesses must find new ways to connect with clients and bring their brands to customers’ doorsteps. Enter delivery service providers. A service in high demand in a country whose culture has been driven by delivery for decades, the realities of the COVID-19 pandemic, have only helped to further the rapidly snowballing demand for this service. Yalla Fel Sekka (YFS) was created to respond to these new challenges. Today's customers want instant deliveries at affordable prices. When they order they expect it to be delivered immediately. At Yalla Fel Sekka, we are pushing a new concept of “NOW delivery” or “instant delivery”. 

Yet, last-mile delivery is not a new concept, so what’s new? Quality and speed are two integral features of any successful delivery service, and perhaps traditionally have been the biggest challenges facing the last-mile delivery industry. However, the last mile instant delivery (LMID) business goes beyond this: exceptional operations, an agile business model that can quickly and conveniently adapt to make a change, and smart leadership that understands the delicate balance between consumer demands and retail expectations, are all crucial to creating that winning formula.  

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Succeeding where others have failed

In the past, companies didn’t realize that speed was essential, they built their model based on heavy assets and consolidation that resulted in slow deliveries, but that approach simply does not work anymore. With an instant connection to brands and people online, consumers' expectations have shifted to an expectation of instant gratification and it falls to the logistics industry to address this new demand. Traditionally, a fragmented market has made it difficult to track and speed up the delivery cycle. In Egypt anywhere up to 40% of online orders are still falling through the cracks and never reach their destination. Additionally, last-mile delivery has always been an expensive step in the delivery cycle and some of the biggest challenges to address lie here. 

So, how can the last-mile be a success? Technology plays a big part in data mining and predictive algorithms. Tracking and tweaking the delivery experience helps in identifying challenges in the logistics chain and finding the right solutions for them. Yet, it’s not just the technology, it’s the synergy between that technology and the operations team, who are focused on optimization and productivity and know how to use the data that technology provides to make decisions that help reduce costs and streamline business and operations. Technology can only take you so far but it will never replace a great team.

Seeing the bigger picture

At YFS, we believe the future of the last-mile, depends on the ability to see the bigger picture. It’s all about playing the long game. There is so much untapped potential for the last mile business in Egypt.

In Egypt, the B2C e-commerce sector is valued at $6.2B with annual growth spend of +17%. That’s $6.2B of consumer products that Egyptians will need to have delivered to their homes or place of business. 

Additionally, urban areas are growing very fast in Egypt so it makes sense that the logistics industry would focus their efforts here. For example, the Greater Cairo area already contributes two-thirds of Egypt’s annual GDP with more than 50% is driven by the private sector. Beyond the overall market opportunity, delivery companies such as YFS allow small to medium-size businesses to get online and outsource all of their delivery logistics in a very affordable way enabling them to compete with the larger e-commerce retailers.

Finally, our industry is also a lifeline to the 80 million more youth expected to enter the job market over the next 10 years. The beauty of last-mile business models is that it provides flexible employment opportunities, whilst allowing us to remain agile and able to adapt to fluid market demands.

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