The MENA region has seen a significant rise in last-mile delivery, on-demand delivery, and personal assistant services in recent years. However, with the exit of Glovo, and Uber Eats and the continuous entrance of new players, one cannot witness all these changes without asking the following question: In a region where delivery services are largely available and one can get virtually anything delivered to one’s doorstop, how is it that on-demand delivery is still such a lucrative opportunity for entrepreneurs?
To answer this question, I got in touch with Mohamed Afifi, the CEO and Co-founder of Mongez, the latest on-demand delivery app to join the delivery race. I was surprised to find out that in Egypt, only 5% of the 100 million+ citizens engage in online shopping, which represents both the first challenge and opportunity in that sector.
“If we look only into Egypt, the age group between 16 and 64 years represents around 62 million people. 20 million of which generate around EGP 5000 in monthly income. However, only 5% of the population orders online, while the potential consumers market is about 30% of the total population,” says Afifi. These figures lead one essentially to conclude that the on-demand delivery sector is premature, underserved, and has high potential for growth.
Challenges in On-Demand Delivery
While the opportunity is undeniable, there are many challenges in the on-demand delivery sector that are deeply rooted in the fabric of a city like Cairo. According to Afifi, the main challenges in the on-demand delivery sector include; firstly, the costs of scaling, finding, and training personal assistants “Mongezeen” who carry out the customers’ orders, secondly, building complex scalable tech solutions that take cultural challenges, and security into consideration. The third challenge, as anyone who lives in such a highly populated city would know, are traffic and road infrastructure, which in turn leads to issues with punctuality and reliability. The fourth challenge according to Afifi is understanding the needs and behaviors of the different customer segments, and tailoring their services to them.
“In Cairo, it takes 10-12 minutes to perform a 5 km drive, excluding parking and the time it takes to perform the errand itself, add to this that a 5 km drive costs around EGP 4 – 4.5 in petrol.”
Seizing the Opportunity
The aforementioned challenges, especially the traffic and road problem often make running errands time-consuming, stressful, and costly for people, which is what Mongez, similar to many personal assistant services and on-demand delivery startups aims to solve through its various features. “In Cairo, it takes 10-12 minutes to perform a 5 km drive, excluding parking and the time it takes to perform the errand itself, add to this that a 5 km drive costs around EGP 4 – 4.5 in petrol,” says Afifi. The app, therefore, aims to help its customers save time and energy by delegating these tasks to its Mongezeen who can run errands for them, or purchase items from multiple stores and deliver them directly to their doorstep.
According to Afifi, orders on Mongez are instant and can be placed in as little as 90 seconds through text, voice notes, or images, a feature that the team prides itself on having pioneered. Once the customer is assigned to the nearest Mongez a private chat room is opened between them. Mindful of customers’ needs to communicate with the team in case of any inconvenience on the app, Mongez has a call center available, which customers can reach them on anytime.
“In Mongez we appreciate challenges because tackling them and finding long term solutions means we are being of an added value to our surrounding environment and ecosystem, which is something we are always passionate and excited about.”
The Mongez Team and the Way Forward
With all the challenges on the horizon the Mongez team, which comes from many diverse sectors including ride-hailing, FMCGs, supply chain management, and logistics, as well as telecommunication are ready to take on the on-demand delivery sector. The company was co-founded in 2019 by Mohamed Afifi, Tarik Amer, and Mohamed Ashraf and launched at the start of 2020, just before the COVID-19 crisis which saw a spike in on-demand delivery.
The company has raised a pre-seed round and completed almost 5000 orders in 6 months. Mongez now operates in 7 areas around Cairo, including New Cairo, Rehab, Zamalek, Mohandessin, Dokki, Nasr City and Heliopolis, as well as in Mansoura. The team aims to become an integral part of the digital transformation and daily lifestyle of Egyptians. Mongez plans to launch in main cities in Egypt by the end of 2020 and to expand in selected countries in the MEAPT (Middle East, Africa, Pakistan, and Turkey) market in 2021.
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