Updated: Apr 18
The latest in MENA startup news is all about Tamara these days. They've just closed a Series A round and raised $110M. The reason this is a big deal is that these numbers just don't exist in the MENA space… until now!
Tamara is a Saudi-based "buy now pay later" startup. They were founded in 2020 and raised $6M in seed funding just this past January 2021 – and so the jump from 6 to 110 million is an indicator of what a big deal this space is at the moment.
Now, let's move on to the sixth episode of our seven-episode collaboration series with 500 Startups.
In our latest episode, we sit down with Rasha Rady who's the co-founder and COO of Chefaa, a pharmacy platform that helps patients order, schedule, and have medicine delivered to consumers' doorsteps. Rasha is a pediatrician, by background, who got out of her comfort zone and into the Take entrepreneurship world to serve more patients and have a larger impact on the community.
Together we discuss:
Benefits of building online apps to serve your customers better
How to retain customers through subscription models
Understanding and applying consumer preferences to e-commerce platforms
Dynamics of the Egyptian ecosystem to consider when building a local startup
Leverage mobile apps as a means to serve customers better
Take Chefaa as an example – they've built a GPS-enabled platform that allows patients to order, schedule, and refill their recurring prescriptions, as well as match their pharmacy needs. Through Chefaa's mobile app, pharmacies receive a notification for every new order and are able to deliver if they have the items in stock. When the closest pharmacy to the patient doesn't have the medication they need, the prescription is forwarded to the next closest pharmacy. By having a marketplace like Chefaa, customers can have increased accessibility to their orders regularly.
Consider subscription models, if goods are of a recurring purchase nature, to automate customer retention
Monthly subscriptions can be a great way to keep customers on board in the long term. In the case of healthcare, when chronic patients are low on their regular medication supply, patients can use Chefaa to schedule their monthly prescriptions to be delivered to them regularly. These deliveries can be scheduled ahead of time, but keep in mind to allow customers to have the option of making changes to their orders before delivery to provide flexibility.
Know the type of services, language preferences, and payment methods that your customers want from e-commerce platforms
Don't limit the services offered by your business. Besides providing a network of pharmacies for patients, Chefaa is able to fulfill prescriptions, offer 24/7 support, secure medication ahead of time, work with registered pharmacists, dosage reminders, and is available in both Arabic and English.
When getting orders from other countries like KSA, UAE, Kuwait, and Egypt, all orders are in Arabic. The preferred language of the people in the MENA region is Arabic. The only difference is the local dialects used, for example, Egyptian Arabic is different compared to Khaleeji Arabic. If there's ever any issue in communication or clarification needed, customers can speak in English.
Consider regional consumer behaviors, laws, and regulations
The consumer market in Egypt has a cash economy. Only 3 to 4% of consumers go for online payment options when purchasing online. The rest of the consumers prefer using cash for their purchases. However, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have been more hesitant to physically deal with money. This is why they have moved to online, cashless transactions. But, as the pandemic continues to be a regular part of everyday life, people are resorting back to using cash as their standard payment method.
Following the laws and regulations of the country where your business operates is essential to build credibility and conducting business ethically. Chefaa was able to pitch their startup to parliamentary members and showed them how (1) they partner up with registered pharmacists, (2) the pharmacy is the one delivering the medication, and (3) they handle prescriptions directly by themselves.
Until next time,