Exclusive: European on-demand delivery startup Glovo expands to MENA by launching its services in Cairo

Barcelona-headquartered on-demand delivery startup Glovo is expanding to MENA with the launch of their services in some areas of Cairo today with a plan to cover entire city in the next few weeks.

Glovo allows users to receive anything from anywhere within a city (or its service area) by buying it through its app. The users can also send products within the service area. To put it in simple words, it basically functions just like our homegrown Fetchr with few differences or the US-based Postmates.

Founded in 2015, the startup is already available in more than 60 cities across 9 countries in Europe and South America.

In Cairo, Glovo has already partnered with some restaurants, florists, bakeries, kiosks, and pastry shops so users will be able to see their menu or products within the Glovo app and buy anything with the option to pay with cash on delivery. The delivery charges are flat 10 Egyptian Pounds and the users are obviously required to pay the price of the item upon delivery as well.

The app allows users to order just anything within the service area as long as it could fit on a motorbike. The users can also move anything from one point to another by using Glovo as a regular courier service within the city.

Their average delivery time in the cities where they currently operate is 32 minutes and they’re trying to keep Cairo under 40 minutes.

It is very interesting to see a European startup expand into this crowded space in a city  like Cairo where we already have players like Uber who just launched Uber Eats in the city, Dubai-headquartered Fetchr that has raised more than $50 million in funding, Careem that has its delivery service in the works for Egypt, and other local players including Bosta and VOO. They may not have the same business or operational model but all of them are essentially trying to solve one problem, deliveries.

Utsav Agarwal, Glovo’s Head of Expansion for Europe, Middle East and Arica is not worried about the competition though.

“I think competition is good for the market and is always an indicator of the potential and growth that the region holds,” he said speaking to MENAbytes. “Cairo has all the ingredients to scale rapidly for a service like ours. Today, I’m able to request a ride through Uber/Careem within minutes and move around the city at comfort which wasn’t possible 3 yrs back. The same is bound to happen for food, groceries, pharmacies, and many other categories, and we want to be a part of that growth story from the early days.”

Both Uber and Careem have recently introduced motorbikes as a ride option for their users in Cairo which means that it won’t be easy for Glovo to keep the supply side going. With Careem and Uber, the drivers are likely to make more money transporting people as Glovo has flat delivery rates. But Ustav thinks that the drivers could be working for all these companies at the same time.

“I don’t see it as Uber/Careem or us. Every business has its own peaks – for ride-sharing companies, it’s morning going to the office and evening returning back to home. Whereas for us there is steady demand through the day, with peaks for lunch and dinner time,” he told us.

The startup apart from aggregating motorbikes has regular bicycles as well as a means of delivery.

After Cairo, Glovo’s next destination in the Middle East and North Africa is Casablanca where they will launch in the next few weeks. The startup expects to be in at least 4-5 more countries of the region by the end of this year.

The startup has raised more than $40 million in funding with Rakuten leading their Series B last year.

If you decide to give their services a try, you could use HELLOCAIRO as promo code to get free deliveries on the first five orders.

Zubair Naeem Paracha
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