Challenging times call for creative solutions

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Even in the uncertain times of the COVID pandemic, tech companies in the Middle East and North Africa are making bold decisions—and their creative problem-solving is one reason Africa’s Internet economy could contribute up to $180 billion to the continent’s GDP by 2025 and $712 billion by 2050.  But don’t take my word for it—watch these founders tell their own stories of growth during COVID-19, writes Sérgio Pimenta, IFC’s Regional Vice President for Africa.

When Cairo-based Doaa Aref was diagnosed with thyroid cancer 3 years ago, she started ordering all of her necessities online so she could avoid crowded shops and protect her immune system. Seeing a gap in the regional market, she and her cofounders launched Chefaa, an online platform to connect patients and pharmacies. On this mobile app, people like her with chronic illnesses can order, schedule and refill prescriptions that are then delivered to their doors. During the pandemic—a time of great risk for people with chronic illnesses—Chefaa expanded its offerings and has experienced a 300% increase in demand for the platform. Chefaa is a portfolio company of Flat6Labs Cairo, an accelerator and early stage VC fund supported by IFC. The company joined Google’s regional startup accelerator in early 2021.  Watch Chefaa’s story here: https://youtu.be/HT4r_P6R6bU

One night at dinner, Gaurav Biswas heard a friend complain about how difficult it was to find truckers who would deliver his company’s products on time. By the end of the evening, Biswas had sketched out the strategy for Trukker, an app to link drivers and suppliers throughout the MENA region. The technology was already shaking up the freight market before COVID-19—and the skyrocketing demand for deliveries has only increased. Now, 27,000 drivers service more than 550 clients in five countries throughout the region. The logistics supply chain has “significantly benefitted” from the pandemic, Biswas said, and the company has made efforts to look out for the safety and health of workers on the road. Trukker is a portfolio company of IFC’s Disruptive Technologies team. Watch Trukker’s story here: https://youtu.be/ZHJa4fgx9WA

These businesses are not just surviving COVID-19—they’re thriving. Check out more video conversations at Africa Talks Tech like Brimore: https://youtu.be/xaz320AkUcE, where founders recount what it takes to build and run a tech startup in Africa and how they’ve expanded their businesses.

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