WSIS Forum 2019: Open Space TalkX on E-Commerce

March 23, 2020 WSIS TalkX Season 2019
WSIS Forum 2019: Open Space TalkX on E-Commerce

spk_0:   0:04
Hi, everyone. And welcome to another episode of Resist Ox. I'm Leila Hassan, and I'm leading today's podcast today. We're going to be talking about e business and I'm joined here by Wasilla is who is the founder and managing director of Tygart Iwill. See, that's very nice having you here with us.

spk_1:   0:21
Thank you so much.

spk_0:   0:22
So why don't you start by telling us a bit about your project and to God and what you're doing with that

spk_1:   0:27
s 02 guards? He's basically many toe B to B E commerce platform on. We specialize in selling Egyptian products, and service is around the world. We're open to any market. We're open to any sector on the really The idea started off of how can we promote exports? Ah, Egyptian exports around the world and also, you know, because of the economic situation, how can we bring in foreign currency reserves? And we were really trying to think of a solution that would encompass all these problems on dumb. And this idea is very unique to Egypt. There's no other e commerce platform that just specializes in exporting Egyptian products and services abroad. Um, and it started. We started two years ago. Last year we started doing operations and starting actually selling products and service is, um and yeah, we are very successful that we have markets now in Europe and Latin America, North America. And this model, this national Platform model, has actually now there's been gaining interest in doing it elsewhere, especially in African nations. So we've been approached by African governments on how can we implement and basically duplicate this process in other countries. So, yeah, there's a lot of social impacts going with it.

spk_0:   1:50
And you said that this project is unique to Egypt. So have there been any challenges that you've encountered during your work and maybe some that are specifically linked to the Egyptian market as well?

spk_1:   1:59
Yes, of course, I would say the main thing is really getting the government on your side right, because in a country like Egypt a lot, there's a lot of logistical obstacles. There's, uh, look also legal obstacles, and all these things are very easy if you have the government on your side so that one of the first things we did was kind of sell this idea to the government and kind of convinced them that if they were to partner with us, they can benefit from it and that to really convince them way are made for us for social impact, more than just profit s o The main obstacles we face was Egyptian customs, but also foreign customs. But both of those could be sold if we had the Egyptian government helping us out. So with the Egyptian Post service, they provide us with the older delivery out of much at a very discounted rate. They deal the customs, they deal with the taxes. So this is short sold a lot of the so love, the problems that we had. And I would say the other thing was, how can we use the government? Or how can we work with the government to reach to local vendors in Egypt that are not so accustomed to using online platforms S. So that means that we had to tackle the local culture in Egypt. Uh, actually, Egypt has one of the highest rates of Internet usage in the MENA region, but at the same time it has one of them. I think it's the lowest rate off e commerce purchases because it's just common culture in Egypt to not trust online payment systems and so on. So this requires, of course, convincing marketing and so on. Um and of course, it makes it much more easier when you have the government on your side. So that was the main obstacle we faced.

spk_0:   3:42
And how have you? And perhaps the government, as you mentioned, been tackling this kind of barrier to getting people to trust in e commerce, online thought forms and which was largely an educational problem as well. I mean, people need to understand what the platform is so that they can then trust it. And of course, it also has to do with deliverables and using it once and twice and hearing success stories and so on. Um, but yeah, What have you have been doing? It. Has the government been helping you with that?

spk_1:   4:05
Of course. So in Egypt again, Yes, it's an educational problem. But Egyptians, they have this idea that if if it's through the government, if it's true something official, then it's more or less. It's a safe way to use it. So what we've been doing is that kind of we've been, uh, convincing Egyptian producers to go through us, but with the face of the government. So we always include the government, any negotiations. We include the government of any deals that we make with vendors, because then they kind of have an assurance that if we on our side do something that's fraud related

spk_0:   4:37
to keep up your end of the bargain.

spk_1:   4:39
Exactly. So in that case, that's the way we do it. And that's really just showing the governor showing that the government is with us when it comes to any of the deals. But at the same time, you know, we are. We're not there to push or coerce anyone to use e commerce. So what we do is that we lead by example. There are a few vendors in the beginning, really in the beginning that were convinced with the idea, because maybe they were accustomed to sending a line already, and they were the first ones to join in. And when they joined two guards and they saw that it was profits coming out of it and so on that resonated in the business community and the other vendors, especially in their markets. They start to hear about it and they got convinced, without us even trying to do so. So I think, leading by example, that is the best way, especially their education. And so that's the best way you can convince him,

spk_0:   5:28
you know, especially in markets like Egypt as well. And I'm sure a lot of different little other developing countries where word of mouth is so important in terms of building trust on this community. Trust feeling to it, and how do you see the icy tea and e commerce ecosystem in Egypt? Obviously, it's grown. Over the last years, we've seen a lot more entrepreneurship in the manner region, but especially in Egypt as well, and not just entrepreneurship, but also social entrepreneurship. And there's been a lot of capacity building through it on someone. But what's been your experience in that ecosystem?

spk_1:   5:56
It's It's very much a very underrated ecosystem out. I would say, You know, in Egypt there's Ah, hub, which called the Greek in Cairo. It's called Agree Campus, and if you would go there and just see the scene, you see all the startups are launching day by day. It's really something very impressive to see. Um, I would say the main challenges that these startups have and this ecosystem is the legal framework, right? There's a lot of obstacles to become a star, to become a legal entity bureaucracy of agree exactly, and I think the government has been has done a very good job to eliminate some of these obstacles. But again, it's not just a matter of becoming legal entities. What comes after that as well. It comes with the transactions with your office space. The pain tends everything. So, um, I think just a matter of time that these ecosystem will kind of fix itself because as the starter has become more prevalent and we have already had startups in Egypt that you know they're making national headlines, a lot of Egyptians know about them, especially the tech field tech industry. If they become so prevalent, the government will recognize him and they will adapt to their needs. They will make sure that they are able to be competitive, that they can enter the markets that they need to because at the end, the day these startups are the ones that creating the jobs and it's something that the government knows that more and more jobs going to be created by the small and medium enterprises,

spk_0:   7:18
of course, and the success stories great, more risk, more positive response, not just from the government but from the community as a whole and private sector and consumers and so on on. That's always important to have. And how do you see platform such as yours? And maybe you want to comment on the ecosystem as well. But how did you see platforms such as yours contributing to the sustainable development goals of the U. N?

spk_1:   7:36
That's a very good question. And I would say, you know, took Artie. We started off not from a profit oriented mind you, but really, it was more of the social impact, right? So how can we connect with those local vendors in Egypt that don't have that platform? So our first thing that we provide is this platform that connects a local supplier in Egypt. Let's say, in a local bazaar like Frank led to the foreign markets were just something that has not happened for a long time. You know, a tourist now doesn't need to be in Egypt to get something. He can get it online, and that's on its own very revolutionary The second point is that we have a lot of we kind of brought a lot of standards to the market that haven't been are quite unprecedented. So, for example, we do inspections on any factories that produce goods that are sold on to guard his website. And these inspections include things like no child labor. Just in general, labor standards are proper environmental standards. No chemicals are ending up in the Nile and so on. These things are not very common practice in Egypt, and these are the kind of things are left out of the picture. So when you bring these new standards, where you're really doing is you're not just bringing this platform online, but you're bringing a whole set of globalized universals that yeah, values. And I think this is very important. And, you know, again, we're leading by example. We're not forcing anyone to do this. If someone does not match the standards were not gonna force him to change his name to say Sorry, we're not interested. But I think if you look at our success stories is proven that you can follow these standards, you can really be having a good social impact but at the same time be profitable, be able to reach the foreign markets and be competitive.

spk_0:   9:19
And you mentioned that Egypt has one of the highest rates in the middle region of Internet usage. Have you found that there was still quite a big group of merchants? Or, you know, local vendors that don't use Internet, that there's a kind of digital divide there as well? And that's making a a substantial group of people hard to reach your have you find that it's been quite easy toe, you know, get people to use these kind of online platforms.

spk_1:   9:41
I think it is very difficult, actually, because a lot of these type the type of people that don't use the Internet that much on our merchants are usually the ones that are comfortable in their position on they don't really. They are profitable most of the time, and they're not really looking forward to expanding. And a lot of it is because they don't even know what the potential could be. Or they have certain misconceptions regarding customs. So when I would to approach a diamond maker and I'll tell him, Look, you conjoined to guard to, we can make your business even more profitable. We can sell to these certain markets. They start telling me these misconceptions and misunderstandings like, Oh, customs doesn't allow it. Oh, this and that when really, that's not the reality. So there's this misinformation, this lack of understanding. That's the part that we face a challenge with on that's really it goes down to education, as you said on Dhe. But we I think so far it's more and more. The more vendors we have, kind of the better it like we're leading along with example, right? So other vendors, they're going to say, proved to me what you're saying. We can just show them Look, you, we have this other diamond maker that was able to export so

spk_0:   10:53
great. Thank you so much for joining us today. It's been great having you here a huge thank you to all of our listeners as well. And make sure you check out the rest of the wishes, talks podcasts,