Yasmine Abdel Karim, Founder & CEO of Yalla Fe Elsekka: The Struggles and Successes of a Delivery Start-up
Jasmine Kamal
3/6/23, 7:00 PM

As part of Women's Month, we wanted to recognize and celebrate female achievements in various fields. To do this, we've conducted interviews with incredible women who have overcome numerous obstacles to reach their goals. One of the inspiring leaders we had the pleasure of talking to was Yasmine Abdel Karim, co-founder & CEO of Yalla Fe Elsekka. We learned about her journey and are excited to share it with you…

Read the full interview…

- First of all, we’d like to know more about you, your educational background, and your career.

My name is Yasmine Abdel Karim and I'm Egyptian-French. After spending 17 years in Europe, I moved back to Egypt in 2019 to launch YFS – an on-demand logistics start-up company. I have worked with several cultures and languages around the world in industries including oil and gas, where I developed my productivity skills, be it for processes or people. This has inspired me to launch a start-up in logistics services. Earlier in my life, I pursued a Mason Fellows degree at Harvard Kennedy School, was HR Manager at Schlumberger’s global headquarters in Paris, and worked in economics, entrepreneurship, process improvement, and overall efficiency policies. I also hold a BS in Economics from Cairo University in Egypt and an MSC in Human Resources from Robert Gordon University in the UK. Besides my mother tongue, I speak English and French fluently.

 - Now, Let's talk about Yalla Fe Elsekka. When did you launch it? And what does the company offer?

Yalla Fe Elsekka provides the only reliable and affordable instant delivery service for businesses in urban communities in Egypt - the largest and fastest-growing economy in the MENA region. With its digital platform and diverse fleet of 1,000 motorcycle and van drivers, YFS is already pioneering the instant delivery sector for groceries, food, e-commerce consolidators, retailers, and pharmaceutical products in the country. YFS is building the critical infrastructure backbone for next-generation logistic services in the region and is seeking to develop the broadest urban distributed network micro-warehouses in Egypt. 

Moreover, YFS is now delivering over 10,000 orders per day while being gross margin positive only 18 months after launch in a vibrant but competitive market. YFS was launched in March 2020 in Egypt operating only in Cairo. However, now, it is operating across Egypt excluding Upper Egypt. 

- We're curious to know what your motive was to start this company.

Well, many things! First, it was an idea of my co-founder when we were looking at Asia and Latin America as similar markets to the Mena region. The absence of instant delivery services in Egypt and the growing potential of E-commerce in the region, along with inefficient delivery services in Egypt have contributed to the decision-making of launching YFS.

- We know how challenging it is to work in the field of shipping and delivery. Can you tell us about your experience with the difficulties you faced?

The main difficulty I faced was raising awareness of how important the delivery service is. We cannot operate without it since the majority of our day-to-day shopping has become online, whether it’s food, medicine, grocery, or clothes shopping. So, raising the quality of delivery services and accelerating the speed of it to be the fastest by one click as the payment and ordering cycle is needed for the market dynamic changes now and the young generation’s speedy ecosystem. I believe, if we realize the importance of the quality and how essential this service is, we would be able to have better investments, structure, and improvement in this sector. 

- We believe in women's abilities to the fullest extent, but getting into a field largely dominated by men is still a bit of a challenge. How did you face that?

Not knowing is a blessing. I did not realize/know that I was from the rare Arab women in the MENA region that co-founded a logistics startup. As I did not know, I did not see it as a challenge. I have always been in a male-dominated ecosystem. At a young age, I played Handball (which is not a typical women’s sport) and joined the Egyptian National Handball team since I was 14 years old, joined Schlumberger, a male-dominated oil and gas industry, and worked in logistics. So, even though it wasn’t normal, I embraced the challenge. Women are the best organizers and most efficient planners. Logistics is all about productivity, lean process, doing it right from the start, and efficiency. I excel in this and I believe the industry needs more women.

- Many entrepreneurs, when they start their own projects, have to give up or sacrifice many things for the success of their project. What did you give up the most?

My freedom…

- If you could describe your journey as an entrepreneur in three words, what would they be?

Perseverance, Learning, and Humbling

- During your journey as a founder and an entrepreneur, what helped you the most?

Believing in myself, loving challenges, being a greatly ambitious person, and not taking “no” for an answer. Fear creates an eagerness for me to overcome it. This is the startup world!

 - If you could give a piece of advice to women who want to start their own business, what would it be? 

Do not give up, believe in yourself, and be passionate about what you are doing. You can do it, so just do it.

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Jasmine Kamal

She wanted to become a writer ever since she was a child. That's why she started working in journalism at a very young age. She found a certain magic in reading and writing about women and anything that has to do with their lives. She spends most of her time listening to music, especially french music, because of her love for the language. She doesn't like to stay at home a lot because she finds joy in roaming around, even if it is without a purpose.