An Egyptian startup whips trucking and logistics industry into shape

An Egyptian startup whips trucking and logistics industry into shape
Fast track: Egyptian startup Trella is digitizing local trucking and logistics, improving efficiency in a fragmented marketplace. (Supplied)
Short Url
Updated 21 March 2020

An Egyptian startup whips trucking and logistics industry into shape

An Egyptian startup whips trucking and logistics industry into shape
  • Trella is working with 50-60 shipper partners which have 15,000 to 20,000 trucks across Egypt
  • Company was launched by a group of young entrepreneurs who saw an opening in the market

CAIRO: Despite Egypt’s efforts to develop on all fronts, its infrastructure remains the biggest challenge, especially when it comes to transportation and logistics.

A group of young entrepreneurs who were at the forefront of Uber emerging in Egypt saw an opening there, and Cairo-based Trella was born.

“We discovered that you can really change an industry that is extremely fragmented and inefficient,” said co-founder and COO Ali El-Atrash, 26.

The industry in question is the trucking business in Egypt, which faced a host of challenges. El-Atrash said that “95 percent of everything we wear, drink or eat” is transported on the back of trucks.

“It’s a massive multibillion-dollar industry, but it is extremely fragmented — 93 percent of the 1.3 million trucks we have in Egypt are independently operated, and thus highly inefficient.”

That fragmentation-born inefficiency caused many problems for both shippers and carriers.

If a company wanted to move a shipment, it received high quotes, and the service was unreliable at best.

“We want to reduce the cost of moving goods throughout the entire region. In effect, we’ll be improving the overall macro-economic efficiency, touching the lives of the average citizen,” El-Atrash said.

Trella saw that it could eliminate that inefficiency by bringing together shippers and carriers into one marketplace.

“As of now, we are working with around 50-60 shipper partners and have around 15,000 to 20,000 trucks onboarded all over Egypt,” he said.

The company moves just about everything within the country, as well as to Libya and Sudan, with major players such as Coca-Cola, Orascom and Nestle using the trucking marketplace.

“We landed these major shippers through offering them competitive shipping rates, higher fulfilment reliability and a far superior quality experience,” El-Atrash said.

Independent truckers using their own vehicles would probably have two or three shipments on a good week, but with Trella, they could have 12 or 13.

They get to select their routes, shipping times and even the kind of goods to move.

Last December, Trella acquired local competitor Trukto, consolidating its position as one of the most powerful trucking and logistics marketplaces in Egypt.

Explaining the reasons for this deal, El-Atrash said: “We’re looking for a very long game into the trucking and logistics business, and the only way to grow in such a fragmented market is to make use of the pre-existing synergies with other companies in the region.

We have ambitions to scale beyond Egypt and expand our footprint in neighboring countries.

“Trukto was the first player to enter the market, and they were quite visionary. They had a lot of hyper-localized institutional knowledge and a solid base of insights into how the market runs and operates.

“They were also more into short-hauls and local distribution, which complemented our value chain big time.”

Regarding the challenges that confronted Trella, El-Atrash said: “We’re trying to solve one of the most complex logistics problems ever, in one of the most convoluted regions in the world, and to really solve this problem you need to get the right people on board.”

This is why the company puts a huge emphasis on its hiring process, seeking only the best and brightest.

“This is a super cash-flow-intensive business, and it took some time for us to scale to a level where financial institutions could take us more seriously as we’ve become a lot more debt-worthy than ever before,” El-Atrash said, referring to another challenge Trella faced when it started operations in early 2019.

Tech adoption in such a traditional industry as trucking also proved complicated.

“We’re making that happen by listening to carriers quite often. We have an extraordinary on-ground presence, where for every facility we’re moving loads through, we have an on-ground operator,” El-Atrash said.

Using that presence, the company collects “insights and qualitative data” on how it could make its product more seamless for its carrier partners.

With impressive talent on board, grand ambitions and the support of high-profile investors such as Algebra Ventures and Y Combinator, Trella has lofty goals for the future.

“We have ambitions to scale beyond Egypt and expand our footprint in neighboring countries, where we can really make use of the network, further improving the overall efficiency in our marketplace,” El-Atrash said.

• This report is being published by Arab News as a partner of the Middle East Exchange, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives to reflect the vision of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to explore the possibility of changing the status of the Arab region. 


Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
Lamborghini CEO Stephan Winkelmann says the region is a very important market for the manufacturer and has maintained its importance despite economic challenges. (Supplied)
Updated 23 June 2021

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market

Italy’s Lamborghini eyes big opportunities in Saudi market
  • Super-car manufacturer said its Urus SUV has been a ‘game-changer’ for growth in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Lamborghini, the Italian super car manufacturer, sees Saudi Arabia as potentially its strongest market in the Middle East, its CEO Stephan Winkelmann told Arab News.

“The UAE is currently the biggest one, but we think that Saudi Arabia could become the biggest — it’s currently No. 2. We have the right partner today, so there is a big opportunity. We see growth and more potential,” he said.
Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar. Winkelmann said that he saw the Urus, the Lamborghini SUV that has been a big success in the region and accounts for half of new sales, as a “game-changer” in Saudi Arabia.
He said that the region was a very important market for the manufacturer and had maintained its importance despite economic and geopolitical challenges.
He was in the Middle East to discuss with dealers and customers the recent $1.8 billion move by the Italian company to turn away from petrol engine cars later this decade, first with hybrid engines, then with an all-electric car.
Winkelmann said the company is also exploring the possibility of a new generation of synthetic fuels in its super-fast models.

HIGHLIGHT

Lamborghini has partnered with Saudi elite car dealership Samaco and now has outlets in Jeddah, Riyadh and Alkhobar.

Although Lamborghini is not the first super car manufacturer to consider going electric, its move away from the internal combustion engine is still a big challenge.
“For us, it’s even tougher because we not only have to reduce emissions but also maintain performance and make it even better than it was before,” Winkelmann said.
Hybrid plug-in versions of the Aventador and Huracan sports cars will be developed in the next couple of years, alongside the Urus. The first all-electric car — a brand new design — will be introduced in the second half of the decade.
Another challenge for Lamborghini will be how to replicate the famous exhaust “crackle” enthusiasts like in the petrol engine cars.
“We have time to think about this. I don’t think we should try to repeat the sound of the engine and exhaust in an electric car. Maybe we will find a new sound or have no sound at all,” Winkelmann said.
Despite the pandemic recession, Lamborghini had one of its most profitable years ever in 2020, as enthusiasts rewarded themselves for the deprivations of lockdown by splashing out on a new super car. The price of a new Urus, for example, starts at around SR1 million ($270,000), but can be much higher with customization and extras.
“People had time to think about their lives in lockdown and what was coming next,” Winkelmann said.


Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank
Updated 23 June 2021

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank

Saudi Cabinet authorizes finance ministry to issue licenses to STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank
  • Both banks are currently being established, according to the ministry

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Cabinet on Tuesday gave its nod to the Kingdom’s finance minister to issue licenses for the country’s first digital banks, the Saudi Press Agency (SPA) reported.

“The finance minister will issue the necessary licenses for STC Bank and Saudi Digital Bank, both under establishment,” the report said, quoting a Cabinet statement.

The Cabinet approved the proposal during a virtual meeting chaired by King Salman, it said.

Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan said on Twitter that the cabinet’s approval is in line with the Saudi Financial Development Program, which is part of the Kingdom's massive economic reform plan known as Saudi Vision 2030.

These objectives seek to develop a more efficient digital infrastructure, while encouraging entrepreneurship and creating job opportunities in the financial sector, he said.

Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals include developing the digital economy and enabling financial companies to support the growth of the private sector.

Last year, the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) licensed 16 financial technology companies to provide payment services, consumer microfinance, and electronic insurance brokerage.

Similar digital banks had earlier been launched in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

(With Reuters)


Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
Updated 22 June 2021

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months

Saudi Central Bank extends SME deferred payment program another 3 months
  • Program aims to support small and medium-sized enterprises still struggling due to the pandemic
  • More than 106,000 contracts have benefited since it was launched in March 2020 with a value of approximately SR167 billion

RIYADH: The Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) announced on Tuesday that it is extending a deferred payment program for a second time to help support small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are still struggling during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
SAMA said the program — one of the bank’s initiatives to support private sector financing — will be extended for another three months from July 1 through Sept. 30.
The move is part of SAMA’s role in maintaining the stability of the financial sector, enabling it to promote economic growth and maintain employment levels in the private sector, especially within micro enterprises and other SMEs.
More than 106,000 contracts have benefited from the program since it was launched in March 2020 while the value of the deferred payments for those contracts has amounted to approximately SR167 billion ($44.5 billion).
SAMA has also offered a secured financing program for SMEs as more than 5,282 contracts have benefited from that program with a total financing value of more than SR10 billion, the bank said in a statement.
These programs are meant to support the private sector and the levels of liquidity in the financial sector. They enable financing agencies to provide support while mitigating the economic and financial effects on the SME sector, the bank said.
This is the second time SAMA has extended the two programs to support SMEs. It renewed the deferred payment program for three months last March, while it also extended the guaranteed financing program for an additional year until March 14, 2022.


Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
Updated 22 June 2021

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats

Beirut is the world’s third most expensive city for expats
  • Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai

DUBAI: Beirut has become the most expensive city for expats in the Middle East and North Africa region, and the third globally, based on the latest “Cost of Living” survey by consultancy Mercer.
Jumping 42 places in global rankings, Beirut has been at the center of Lebanon’s economic and political collapse, aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and the port explosion last year.
Living in the Lebanese capital as an expat has now become more expensive than living in Tokyo, Zurich, or Shanghai. Turkmenistan’s Ashgabat ranked first, in the list of most expensive cities for expatriates, followed by Hong Kong.
Mercer comes up with the annual list by comparing the cost of more than 200 items in each city, including housing, transportation, food, clothing, household goods and entertainment.
Riyadh has become the most expensive city in the Gulf at 29th globally. Jeddah ranked 94th, the report showed.
Dubai dropped to 42nd in the list, down from 23rd last year, and Abu Dhabi ranked 56th from 39th a year earlier.
Other cities in the Gulf also became more affordable this year, the report revealed, with Bahrain dropping to 71st from 52nd, while Muscat fell to 108th from 96th. Kuwait City dropped two places to 115th and Qatar at 21 places to 130th.


Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
Updated 22 June 2021

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work

Dubai government agency first to approve job titles for remote work
  • Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said

DUBAI: Dubai Municipality has become the first government agency in the UAE to approve job titles for remote work, state news agency WAM has reported.
Remote work can now be done under normal circumstances, the department said, parallel to its other work setups such as its shifting system.
The move comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has made private, and even public, workplaces rethink ways to continue their operations despite the crisis.
Workplace innovation is not new to Dubai Municipality, as it pioneered flexible work systems for government departments in the UAE in 2007.
The pandemic has also made the municipality accelerate its smart transformation, to make the remote work system effective.