In a world where the giant chains and conglomerates seem to be ubiquitous, Egypt still depends to a huge extent on a plethora of small kiosks and corner shops to serve cities, villages and communities across the country. In order for these little businesses to meet demand with competitive prices, there had to be a way to get the products to the customer, efficiently and cost effectively, without a middle man. We chatted with Belal El-Megharbel, Co-Founder and CEO at MaxAB, to see how it all works.
What motivated you to start MaxAB?
MaxAB was started to bridge the gap between traditional retailers and FMCGs. The retailers account for 90% of the industry and intermediaries were creating unnecessary costs and affecting their profit margins. We knew we had to step in and change things.
What is the basis of your business?
We connect retailers and FMCGs through the use of technology. From start to finish, we are working to ensure that the food and grocery ecosystem is organized and efficient. We provide services that range from economics, logistics and warehousing, to access, to credit facilities. We cover the entire spectrum for all key players in the industry.
What challenges have you come up against?
As entrepreneurs, the main challenge we faced in Egypt was hiring quality talent. Unfortunately, we have been brain drained for the past decade or so. But we are trying to break this stigma, by creating real opportunities and have successfully convinced top talent to move back and help us build MaxAB.
What about your team?
The team brings together experience from Careem and Aramex.
How quickly have you been able to establish yourself in the market?
Since we started operations in November 2018, we have recorded 50% month-on-month growth.
What makes your service stand out?
So far, no one has been able to successfully serve retailers. We know the market is highly fragmented and there is little or no data to support the field force of FMCGs. What MaxAB does is place the power in the hands of the retailer. We are in the best position to understand the retailers and build a strategy accordingly.
What about opportunities for further growth and expansion?
The market is still very untapped and unaccounted for. MaxAB aims to reach 50% of Egypt’s population within the next two years and reorganize the market using technology.
How useful has it been to have a tech platform to coordinate services?
Technology simplifies processes that would otherwise have been done manually. For example, retailers can place orders on-demand and access brand promotion materials using our app. All of this is then delivered to the retailer at the same time. The data recorded from these transactions then helps us tailor services to better suit the retailer such as offering credit facilities.
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