Egypt: Inventory management goes digital for Cairo’s corner stores (

Egypt: Inventory management goes digital for Cairo’s corner stores


Skyrocketing food prices are squeezing household incomes in an economy that was already strained.

There was a time recently where I was selling eggs at a few Egyptian pounds apiece, only to turn around and see the wholesale price had doubled overnight, she says.

Business has gotten easier in one crucial way over the last few years, however.

Three years ago, Zainhom began working with a local startup that is simplifying the way she and thousands of smallscale shopkeepers across Cairo source their goods.

Known as MaxAB a play on the word for gain in Arabic the locally developed ecommerce platform delivers supplies directly to even the smallest of corner stores, saving shopkeepers like Zainhom lengthy trips, often on foot, to distant wholesalers.

Two years after its founding in 2018, MaxAB received a 4 million investment from IFC to help scale its business and provide pathways to boost womens entrepreneurship.

Within a business day, a threewheeled motorbike trundles past her shop and delivers the goods shes ordered. MaxAB made life much, much easier, she says.

MaxAB has achieved that convenience through a deliberate effort to work with, rather than around, Egypts uncounted numbers of largely informal, cashonly retailers.

Joining IFC on a tour of his clients, MaxABs head of market intelligence Ahmed Naguib nods approvingly at Zainhoms shop. This is our kind of place, he says, explaining that the company did the opposite of its competitors, which remain focused on deliveries to larger clients.

Our business model has always been about reaching the unreachable, he says. Once you can do that, you can do anything.

In recent years, MaxABs dramatic scaleup has meant success, but also challenges.

The company behind the service is equipping its retail partners with new skills, tools, and opportunities to grow.

With an upward push of a clattering steel shutter, Abeer Zainhom sends morning light flooding into the corner store she has run for the past 30 years.

Tidy rows of candies, sodas, and snacks line this narrow storefront, around which Cairo is already wide awake.


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