Signed, sealed: deliveries get tech'd in Cairo

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Personal transport is easily the most popular sharing economy business in Egypt, as Uber, Careem and Ousta compete hard for market share, but Egyptians’ love of getting things done with minimal effort is giving rise to another model.

In a city that delivers everything from medications, tobacco, raw food, cooked food and even ready-to-wear clothing, Bosta and newcomer Oustaman are techifying on-demand deliveries in the ever-constipated streets of Greater Cairo.  

The model is simple: it’s ‘Uber for deliveries and errands’.

Business runners

First into the market was Bosta, in December last year. It’s a web app that allows users (namely businesses, for the moment) to make a pickup or delivery order in real time or within a maximum of a few hours. Couriers then hop on their self-owned scooters to fulfill the order for as little as 30 Egyptian pounds (less than US$2).

Y Combinator alumni Mohamed Ezzat is the CEO, Ahmed Gaber is the COO and Mohamed El-Houssainy is the CTO. The model at first was designed to only support existing shopping and shipping portals in Egypt, indeed overseas ‘personal shopper’ site Lynks is a close partner.

The Bosta team at Egypt's Riseup Summit. L-R: Ahmed Gaber, Mohamed Ezzat, Mohamed El-Houssainy (Image via Bosta)

“Businesses at this stage are more guaranteed to have a steadier stream of business and deliveries to send, it helps us grow the tech aspect of the business with a more focused mind,” Ezzat told Wamda. “We just launched our pilot to test the idea a couple of months ago and we have managed to do 100 successful orders in a very short amount of time.”

Their next feature is to roll out a consumer-to-consumer (C2C) option, once they’ve secured seed investment.

The business model is entirely crowdsourced. Bosta vets couriers and monitors their performance and reviews but does not “officially” hire them or purchase scooters or any other assets.

In March Bosta announced that it had received an investment, size undisclosed, from the UAE's Numa Capital.

Ousting the incumbent

But Bosta will face tough competition in the months ahead.

Oustaman is the younger sibling of massively successful ride sharing app Ousta and launched as both a B2B, B2C and C2C delivery business on Sunday.

It works just like a ride sharing app - except with 
insurance. (Image via Oustaman)

Ousta has gone from launch in March last year to operating in 13 cities across Egypt and posing a real challenge to the two incumbents, so if its track record is anything to go by its latest offering could be a real threat to Bosta.

Chairman Nader El Batrawi decided that while Ousta was doing a good job as a local ride hailing provider, delivery, shipping and overall logistical services were in dire need of attention.

“Delivery in 72 hours needs to turn into ‘[delivery] right now’, instead.”

El Batrawi said Oustaman’s scooter owner-driver contractors served three different functions for three different types of clients.

The first is as a personal assistant for individuals where the Oustaman can run errands, pick up or deliver orders such as papers or flowers in real time. The second is serving retailers who can offer same hour deliveries. The third function is for companies outsourcing their real-time courier and messenger needs.

El Batrawi and his Ousta cofounder Omar Salah agree that Egyptians’ predisposition for wanting things on the fly, plus the dire traffic in Greater Cairo preventing people from wanting to get things themselves, are factors that create a large market.

This article has been edited to include information on the Bosta funding round.

Feature image via Worldwide Cycling Atlas.

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