Episode 66 Transcript

Welcome to Episode 66 of the Business in
Morocco Podcast we've got a very
special guest with us today
Karim Debbar who is the general manager
of Glovo here in Morocco so we're gonna
be asking him a little bit about his
background his experience with startups
and then specifically some questions
about Glovo how the business has grown
in Morocco these last couple of years
and how they're handling the corona
virus pandemic that were experiencing
these days so in Karim thank you very
much for joining us we really appreciate
your time we know how busy you guys are
trying to navigate these challenges so
thank you for making time to be our
guest thank you and thank you for the
invite it's my pleasure to be part of
you a part of this episode and looking
forward to have a little chat so why
don't you introduce yourself a little
more tell us about your background your
your education and your early career
experiences well I'm 100% Moroccan 100%
Moroccan product let's say I mean I went
to Moroccan public school I grew up in
in Marrakech in the regional market is
called the ITA which is a small village
not anymore to be honest but it was a
small village when I was growing up
there I went to public school I got my
diploma there and then I moved to Ottawa
University where I got my bachelor's in
business administration after didn't
either that I mean I worked in business
administration and it's a Bachelor in
business administration and then I
joined the professional world by doing
internships at the in the beginning my
first experience or real business
experience was with PNG as a consumer
and market knowledge associate manager
it was a kind of an internship but it
was eye-opening for me it was a great
experience worked with great people
great teams interesting projects and it
gave me this kind of passion for
strategy because it was a strategic
position so it was a very interesting
internship so that's why I moved to
consulting after that and after
consulting I moved to tech
and I worked on a specific project for
Google in the middle it was countering
violent extremism and then I wanted to
get deeper on tech and on-demand
platforms and I joined over as Morocco
operations head of operations and
operations manager before joining global
in June 2018 as general manager this is
basically my background okay yeah it's a
great great pathway so you went straight
from graduating with your back to to
studying in English completely is that
correct yeah exactly I mean Allah
Hawaiian is American based teaching
system so I went from in taught in
Arabic to stretch it to English so it's
kind of interesting down shift for my
teaching abilities for you was that
because you just really enjoyed English
or was it because you saw it playing a
big role in your future and working with
multinationals it was kind of a mixed
nut mix but there were a lot of factors
behind it one it was kind of the
American base that they were advertising
which seemed interesting it was the
English language because it was a new
language and we know that it was the
language of the future for the business
world and the third thing third things
or it was a experience that they offer
to their students you know they have
exchange programs they have exchange
students coming in so they kind of like
have this kind of give-and-take in terms
of culture in terms of the experience
that that was something that was very
intriguing to me and that's why I
decided to go down okay that's great so
you joined clove Oh straight from uber
it was that was around the time when
manuever decided to stop operations here
in Morocco yeah exactly so I mean it was
um to be honest it was me getting
looking for a job you know because uber
shut down and unfortunately you
the things did not work out for that
company in Morocco given the regulations
and the safety was becoming an issue so
yeah so I discussed with Globo and it
seems like they were interested and
looking into the market and that's why
we decided to to work together so it was
a normal recruiting process of course
interviews case study etc yeah Ryan and
I both remember when Globo entered the
market it was it was with a big bang
there were billboards everywhere you
know we saw a lot of advertisements and
it was very intriguing at the time
because you know as far as we were
concerned there was there was nothing
like that so so were you with them from
basically the beginning here Morocco
yeah I launched the business in Morocco
even like the administrative part I was
involved in it the setup of the company
etc I mean the launch was done given
they they have the chosen to work with
me so that's why it was kind of a step
for them to launch into the market
regarding the strategy I mean I mean
when you saw the campaign the marketing
campaign that happened in September but
there was a lot of work that's happening
starting April actually so it took us
around six months to reach that that
over four months actually to reach that
level of awareness or investment because
we had to do the setup of the company
test out our operations get on board
careers etcetera just how the operations
for a while and then we went with the
back-to-school campaign in September
back then and decided to to do a full
campaign marketing campaign with
billboards mainly offline backed up by
online investments as well and marketing
campaigns online to make sure the
message is out there yeah well it
definitely was I mean the city was
painted yellow I don't think anybody
could miss all the billboards that were
yeah everybody yeah everybody who was
intrigued about the company and
everybody was like who is this new
yellow global thing happen and then then
you see the the advertising and then
issue you see like a motorbike a courier
driving with their box and like people
were intrigued
and so it was kind of it is actually the
playbook of Rojo that's why that's how
global operates and this is just
marketing strategy this is something
that they do and when we offered I mean
they they suggest is this strategy for
us in Morocco and we were taking it 100%
so that we can take the business to the
next step now when you launched did you
launch in multiple cities at the same
time or just one city or a few cities in
the beginning um well I mean few areas
in the beginning to be more specific I
mean Casablanca we started just into
downtown like Madoff and then we started
growing our operations by extending the
service area little by little to cover
most of the reason residential areas and
then by September we had covered all
city so then by September we decided to
do that marketing campaign because we
want to have a return on investment you
know we don't want to paint or city in
yellow and have the service available
only in few areas so yeah we started
with Casablanca that was the break down
but we did apply it for other big cities
like Hezbollah like a robot and
Marrakesh where we have to do the same
model of expansion you know start with a
small area and then extend it as you go
along but then we decided after that for
other cities we go big you know since
they want we go full city operational
for full everything you know we don't do
any expansion or any you know tear the
expansion strategy so we decided to go
along from the beginning so yeah that
was the strategy of course we started
with Kasim we moved to Rabat Marrakech
Tangier and then kinda was a like a
snowball we did I get there muhammediye
that was fast you know like a snowball
because the team was so used to expand
into other cities so kind of the
mechanism happened there and we decided
to launch very easily so when you say
you launch what services did you offer
from the very beginning I mean when we
our main focus when we enter a new city
or new country is
to make sure that we have a really
stellar user experience you know we have
two parts here we have the UI which is
the user interface which is what the
engineers are working on you know on the
app but also we have the part where we
discuss the content that is relevant to
the consumers so we want the consumers
when they are intrigued to download our
app and sign up to it we want them to
convert and order to fake it to make a
first order so that first order there is
a huge barrier is what you guys are
offering what is Bravo offering to the
new customer is the content relevant is
the content something that they can use
you know so we know that food is not a
big investment kind of step for anybody
so they can buy anything so we decided
to start with food and our focus is food
and it's everywhere even even like it
because specially in Morocco where
delivery is still a new concept it's
been like just starting to grow as a
discipline or as a lifestyle so food is
the missed the main let's say reflex
when it comes to delivery so for me in
Morocco I would if I'm trying a new
product I will go for a low investment
step and here I will just order food
which like to their home port area
dirham shawarma and that's it I will try
the service and then we'll see if the
service in the experience is positive
then unhooked if not then there is a lot
of things that this is a lot of things
that blow who need to think about it and
of course this comes as sea as
experience you know here's the of global
I mean they're still and we're still
tiny as a company we've been presence in
the world like five years but we've
learned we have this capacity to learn
really fast our learnings and we get in
touch with our couriers we keep in touch
without excuse me we keep in touch
without consumers we keep in touch with
our partners because they give us the
read under their experience you know
they tell us their feedback and this is
important for us to make sure that we
don't make any mistakes when we go to
another country or another city so the
main focus for us - to answer your
question is we focus on the content that
we actually show on the cup on the
it should be relevant to the locals it
should be something that the locals can
relate to that look is that the locals
will be able to order from and we should
not consist of a barrier so it should
not be expensive we don't have any
minimum baskets in new cities we don't
you know we don't have free delivery I
mean we don't have delivery fees in the
launch of new cities because we want
people just to buy what they want to eat
they don't want we want but we don't
want them to pay for the service which
is kind of an investment for us because
we know at the end they would be hooked
to the service and they will be willing
to pay the fees for the service yeah oh
yeah I remember those early days when
when you didn't have a lot of fees it
was like wow I can get these papers
delivered to my accountant it's gonna be
cheaper for me and then to take a taxi
or they even take the tramway to have
global come and do it yeah yeah I mean
because global you know it's a it's a
difficult concept to explain you know
because it's a multi category and it's
an everyting app and that's our vision
Mike wanted to make it to be the
everything up and we want it to be
reliable to people so if they need food
they order global they need groceries
the order below food they need to send
out something they send out via courier
on global you know they need to send the
gift to someone to their loved one stain
it or don't global so it's kind of a
complicated concept to explain and we
break it down along the time after crack
in one category at a at a time but we
need to make sure that all the verticals
of the company or the app are relevant
to the people so yeah we played with
delivery fees we played with promo codes
we played with combos etcetera just to
make sure that users do not have any
barrier to use the app so when you
expand into a new city do you set up a
completely separate office and they
manage everything from that office or do
you have kind of your central hub at
Casablanca that oversees a lot from
there yeah so we have our central hub in
Casablanca which is like the Morocco HQ
let's say so we have the headquarters in
Casablanca and we have heads per
department
and in each city we have people that are
working directly with the couriers and
the partners or even in cells in each
cities and they report directly to
America HP okay clearly uh your drivers
and your employees are in very important
part of your business can you talk a
little bit about how you recruit drivers
and how you recruit back office
employees and the process that you go
through and the type of people that
you're looking for yeah I mean the first
thing I would do or I would answer is
the fact that they are not employees
these couriers that you see they're
independent workers they have the auto
entrepreneur stages there is operational
in Morocco so technically they're not
our employees that are our partners so I
mean we started with this from the
beginning I mean it was the beginning it
was the business model since the
beginning we went with independent
career model for now I mean after two
years almost two years of experience
they have I mean we have around 1,500
active career around the country of
course now I mean with the covered 19 we
have some careers that churned because
of the situation they are scared for
themselves or because the most of them
they are students that part-timers so
when school shut down so they went back
home which are coming from difficult
like far areas so they don't work so we
are working with the careers that we
have now and their courage it courageous
enough to stay on the road given the
current situation the process is very
selective process let's say because
there are a lot of requirements that we
need to have one is which is basic is
that the career needs to be comfortable
with technology they have their own app
that we provide them so they need to be
comfortable with technology we did find
some cases that we helped them to enable
them to use technology but in general
they need to be comfortable with
technology we don't have a specific type
to be honest like in terms of age
or economic situation we welcome anybody
that is coming except they need to fill
out some requirements which is comfort
with with technology french-speaking
because the app is an Arabic and French
but we're working on it to adapt it more
to them they need to have their
entrepreneur status you know so this is
a card that they get from the government
they need to have their background check
clean of course they should not have
anything on their background check and
they have to have their own motorbike
and phone and that's why once they have
those requirements we onboard them and
they start delivering with us do you
have certain like requirements for the
motorbike or for the phone like sort of
a minimum standard I know from what
about no I mean we did on board even
bicycles in the beginning in the early
launch of global and I don't think we do
it anymore because people know that
motorbikes delivery with motorbikes it's
the easiest way or the most comfortable
way to do it
we have cyclists they do it like
part-timers they just want to train
themselves so they start delivering with
us for phones I mean that we just need
them to have a smart phone you know
because the it's an app so yeah I mean
these are the requirements we give them
however we asked from them yeah when it
comes to the the people working in the
back office the the people involved in
the app and recruiting and human
resources that the folks that work
around you and with your team how do you
recruit those people and and what type
of character and competencies are you
looking for for people to work in the
global headquarters here in Morocco yeah
and I mean for us and global we have a
culture and this culture is structured
by core values that we have and these
core values they allow us to
evaluate the fit when I have an
interview you know during an interview
we have our set of questions that are
coming or the which the basis is these
values and we make sure if the art fit
they are managing them you know their
values are cloner ship so we need to
make sure that these people they own the
business when they join the company and
they should own it so it comes from
global and ordinary they need to be very
humble humble we like people that do do
not afraid to get their hands dirty the
business is not structured the business
is a chaotic and we need to make sure
that people that are willing to take on
more than they can chew because it shows
their daring ownership in fact because
when you own your own company you don't
care about what department or what is
your scope you need to do whatever it
takes to make the business running
we have care as a value so we care about
our users we care about our partners and
bloggers and we need to make sure that
whatever employee they have this you
know this this value because we don't
want people working in a specific
department or making decision that could
harm another user or type of user so we
need to make sure that these people they
care about the business and they care
about and the main users in our
ecosystem we have another we have a
other core values which is stay humble
like I already mentioned it right oh god
I'm trying to we have gas okay gas it's
gas which means like gas gasoline that
you put in the car so we want people
that have the higher you know we need
people would fire that are willing to do
whatever it takes to the business and
they are thinking outside the box and
they're not afraid to to make
initiatives to take on initiative and to
make decisions and raise the bar you
know we want them to raise the bar for
themselves yeah good vibes we have good
vibes so we want people I mean it's it's
it said in um in our job descriptions we
don't appreciate assholes
we want to work with people that are you
know good people that have good vibes
that are you know willing to take
everything with the light-hearted the
kind of attitude because it makes things
easier you know working for a start-up
especially working it was very stressful
you know you have a lot of emails I mean
it shows the good vibes it showed during
the past two months I mean you know it
was a good test for us and for the team
because we had to keep a smile given the
situation and we need to make sure that
things are happening I mean things are
difficult but we are willing to face
them in the most you know the most let's
say welcoming way possible can you talk
a little bit about what's changed since
the economic shutdown since the
confinement I mean I was using globo
quite often before the confinement but I
think as we all know here Morocco all of
the restaurants and cafes have been shut
down so can you talk a little bit about
what's changed and and what's the main
focus of your business right now of
course I mean the shutdown and the
decision to shut down food delivery and
food was a big hit for us because that
was our business I mean ninety percent
of our business was relying on food so
yeah it was kind of I mean I wouldn't
say a shock but it was kind of a big
barrier for us because we needed to to
keep life as a business but also I mean
as a social responsibility kind of
perspective we know that delivery helps
with the confinement you know you have
specific people I mean people will stay
at home they will not leave if they know
that someone will get them there the
groceries etc so that's why we decided
to move on groceries and we had the
discussion with margin to launch
groceries and to launch a partnership
and I'm very happy and proud of that
partnership
so yeah the focus I mean for us which
change from food to groceries which to
be honest I mean it was kind of our
strategy for 2020 we wanted to grab the
groceries
category so it came in a little bit
earlier but it came in the most I mean
it let's see I mean so we have this
groceries partnership with them and now
are operating in full country with the
full partnership with them on groceries
delivery
well that's great so this quarantine was
a bit of a catalyst for both you and for
Marjan to to make an agreement very
quickly and get operational because
there's such a high demand so that's
that's a blessing that came out of it
yeah yeah exactly I mean we both
understood the the criticality of the
situation and the importance of
maintaining a really strict confinement
I mean we've seen what happened in other
countries especially in Europe when
confinement was not expected that things
escalated and went like really wreck us
snowball effect so you know from the
beginning that this is gonna be a really
good leverage for us in work or to help
reduce the infection cases and we wanted
to push of course I mean with the
confinement and it comes responsibility
I mean do we have a partnership yes but
we cannot make any mistakes so that's
why we we we got a huge inventory in
terms of hats at hand sanitizers masks
and gloves for our growers so we give
them on a daily basis they have support
every day like seven days a week while
they go to the Grover centers and they
can get the masks and and they had
sanitizers it's a try and they are very
aware on the sanitary measures then they
need to take with with users and with
partners as well you know the the social
distancing they need to keep their
distances they need to sorry they need
to keep their distances they need to you
know make sure that they use their hand
sanitizer every time they have an order
using in their bags etcetera so they
need to make sure that everything is
spotless of course I mean one of the
other measures that we applied was the
contact is delivery which we asked
people we encourage them to pay with
credit card instead of cash because we
want to limit the
transaction and this has been applied
applied on the whole chain of global you
know from partners to a to users so
there is no cash transactions there are
a few cases where we have cash
transactions but it's very limited and
we are very secure in our system then we
have also implemented no signature
because I mean as users you know that in
the end of the order you can sign your
orders you sign off on your order so we
check that out because we don't want any
I mean to keep the social distancing
between the courier and the user so
these are kind of the measures that we
apply it I mean it was it was I mean I'm
very proud with the local team as well
as of the support of our headquarters in
terms of applying all of these measures
and features in such a short amount of
time to make sure that glue who is
helping with the confinement you know
we're doing it that as a business that
moley as is social and citizen
responsibility mm-hmm that's great
knowing that ecommerce now has grown
dramatically just in the last two months
here in Morocco what what does the
future look like for Globo in terms of
supporting e-commerce let's say for
example I own a retail store and I would
like to start selling through social
media or online how can Globo help me
distribute my products yeah I mean I
mean the future of e-commerce in Morocco
it seems booming you know I think in the
past 3 months and maybe the future maybe
in 2020
what happened between March and maybe
until the end and this is just my
personal perspective is I think Morocco
is running out of paste or five years of
the e-commerce you know whatever
learnings they could get in five years
they will get it in one year and this is
the year to get it and I think it shows
how people are moving on to online how
people are launching their online I mean
their online platforms
like people are and people are using
them you know it's just not not people
not aware but people are aware that
there are platforms on our websites
where they can check out their favorite
stores and they see what are the
products offered for us for work for
global I mean I wouldn't I mean we know
that the this is the future I mean
ecommerce and online but so there is a
lot of certainty around the business in
general you know I mean we're still a
startup you know we're not a very set up
company so we're so startup we are still
tiny and you know what we're doing is to
make sure that we keep our heads above
the above the water you know we don't
want to make any mistake so we're being
very cautious about our investments
we're making very cautious about our
strategy we're rethinking the whole
strategy etc so for me I think there is
a bit of uncertainty and we're trying to
you know to go through that blur for now
and I mean for me I cannot say what what
is the future of blue and Morocco but so
far it looks good I mean we're working
on on on the delivery or working people
are starting to understand the
deliberate cetera but there is a lot so
there is a lot of a certainty around the
business so it's kind of a it's still
uncertain that's work for businesses to
join the platform I mean for us we have
a user experience behind it you cannot
just have anybody we need to make sure
that their business is relevant to our
business that their business is relevant
to users to to the areas that we're
going to be operating in but in general
I mean this is the selection that we
take in the beginning but in in general
I mean when they join the platform what
we do is we take out a commission on
every transaction they do on the
platform and that's it and this helps
them you know visibility because we have
our users they can check the app and
they can see their store
we have also you know like we can do
marketing
for them we can do a lot of things for
them to boost their selves we bring them
accra mental cells and we take our
Commission on that and those incremental
sites so where can customers and
Merchants where can they go to find out
more does global have formats for Maciel
or trainings or where can they get more
information to learn more about what
global offers and and how to become a
partner we have our our website global
partners Morocco where people they can
read about everything I might read about
why or the benefits of becoming a
partner with Google and they can fill
out their information and then we have
our team they will get back to them or
contact them to explain to them to do a
brief for them and then once they agree
on the terms then we provide them with
the training session to use because we
give them access to a platform as well
of a back office for them as a partners
will can they can keep an eye on their
business and make sure that the metrics
are intact we do Ana training for them
and that's it I mean they have also
support along the way they have account
managers they have also online
I mean real-time support with our call
centers so to make sure that they are
they feel supported along the way and
during the whole during the experience
with global in China so Kareem are you
finding that a lot of partners are
coming to you and asking to get on to
the global platform or do you still
recruit a lot of partners and go to
meetings and try to pitch them just come
and join I mean we have a lot of
partners I mean it's both cases to be
honest people I mean of course we see a
lot of inbounds now like a lot of people
they come to us they ask him to join but
it's about the same and I mean our cells
momentum it did not really change people
are signing with us even if food is shut
down we have people that are signing
with us we're trying to you know
diversify the actual offer that we have
now so we're focusing on bakeries and
the grocery is because of the
confinement as well as Ramadan
so this is what we're doing for now but
the inbounds are still the same it did
increase to be honest but the sense
inflow it's still the same and do you
have a lot of support and resources and
even regulations that come in from head
office or does Morocco operate quite
autonomously you make your own decisions
and run things as you would like best
for this culture and situation well I
mean global Morocco is a subsidiary of
global Spain which is the headquarters
so what we do is we make sure that we
execute their strategy their general
strategy taken into consideration the
local input and this is where we come in
so we tweak the strategy which week
whatever offer that is coming from HQ
and we see if it's something that it
could be relevant to the market or not
we get a lot of rapport I mean we are
the direct subsidiaries which means that
the investment is coming from from HQ
that the regulations and whatever you
know whatever how it's called directive
or strategy in general where they spend
with their marketing with their
operations whatever it comes to from HQ
and we apply it on the country taken
into condition and consideration the
local input and I know Glovo has
expanded a lot

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