iMile launches shared workforce initiative to alleviate Covid-19 business impact, buoys last-mile delivery ecosystem in the Region

iMile - a growing Middle Eastern logistics technology firm - continues its investment in the region’s last-mile delivery infrastructure by launching a first-of-its-kind shared workforce scheme, designed to ensure optimal talent utilization within last-mile delivery amidst the Covid-19 global health crisis.

“Technology and service are integral to iMile’s DNA as a company and we continue to expand our efforts on both these fronts in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic,” shared Rita Huang, Founder and CEO of iMile. According to Huang, these unprecedented times magnify the importance of an agile, robust and reliable supply chain as more people remain confined to their homes and consequently depend on last-mile delivery to fulfill their consumption needs. She added: “iMile possesses a deep commitment to elevating supply chain practices in this region and together with our various stakeholders, we are dedicated to ensuring a streamlined last mile delivery experience during this time of even greater consumer dependency.”

Huang revealed that online shopping has surged dramatically in the UAE as a result of companies allowing employees to work-from-home and the government mandating individuals sheltering in place to break the chain of coronavirus transmission. “Our deliveries rose dramatically since mid-March, shortly after the World Health Organization declared Covid-19 a pandemic,” explained Huang, citing that the current volume of online shopping mirrors Black Friday consumption levels. In addition to purchasing essentials such as groceries, Huang shared that other top categories include books, gym equipment, electronics, cooking utensils and children’s toys.

Despite the spike in delivery demand, Huang observed that several local businesses - specifically in the travel, tourism, hospitality and transportation/ride-sharing sectors - faced a sharp decline in demand and were left with an experienced but unutilized talent pool, at risk of unemployment. The solution, according to Huang, would be to develop a shared workforce program through which iMile could absorb unutilized or underutilized delivery and operations personnel to meet the increased volume of deliveries. Huang calls this “a triple win; where the employer, the employee and iMile can all benefit by continuing to remain an active contributor to value-creation in last mile delivery.”

Huang considers this program as yet another example of “how iMile proactively leverages global best practices to advance logistics tech and supply chain to new heights in this part of the world.” This shared workforce scheme, she explains, is an approach that some of the world’s largest e-commerce players including Alibaba and employed during the height of the coronavirus spread in China earlier this year.

She also emphasized the importance of a spirit of collaboration and social responsibility by businesses during this time, especially as a majority of companies will be forced to make some difficult decisions in order to survive this year. Huang commented: “Covid-19 is the first such major global health crisis of its kind in the 21st century and has completely altered economic, business and social realities on the ground. Within our industry alone, the change is seismic because consumers today depend on last-mile delivery in a way they likely did not even a few weeks ago.” She added: “iMile is a young and fast-growing player in the MENA market and we see initiatives - such as the shared workforce scheme - as our way to ensure that our local delivery ecosystem thrives during this time. We can go far when we go together.”

E-commerce deals in MENA-based startups have tripled from 2016 to 2019. Find out more details behind this trend and many more in our 2019 MENA E-commerce Venture Investment Report HERE