Meet An Entrepreneur
When Doaa Aref, 34, was finding it hard to obtain her regular medication to treat thyroid cancer, she looked for a solution to obtain medicine more easily through a tech service. Aref talked to this newspaper more about her startup Chefaa, which is Arabic for ‘cure’.
EG: What induced you to start your business?
DA: My experience after I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. I needed access to my regular medications. During my isolation for my radioiodine dose, I could order anything online except for the medication I will need for the rest of my life.
I asked my friend, Rasha Rady, who is co-founder and chief operating officer, to do some searches for other chronically ill patients who might also have difficulties in ordering medicines, so it just made sense to build Chefaa to help patients order and schedule repeated prescriptions.
EG: What is your
DA: I have more than nineteen years’ experience in digital marketing. I have an MBA and background in national and multinational working environment companies before Chefaa.
EG: What are the issues you are solving? What is your value proposition?
DA: Chefaa is a GPS-enabled platform to help patients with chronic diseases order, schedule and refill recurring prescriptions from nearest pharmacies sustainably as well as manage all pharmaceutical needs.
EG: What are your
DA: Our first challenge was to reach out to our target customer; elderly and chronic patients, who are not necessarily tech savvy. So, we reached out to their ‘younger’ caregivers through Facebook, the most used social media platform in Egypt.
We educated users about our services, which was a real challenge that proved to be rewarding later.
As our business grew, we kept devising more services for chronic patients. We continuously get feedback and act on it.
EG: Tell us more about
the process, users and business model.
DA: The users can upload their prescription, which is directed to the nearest pharmacy as per GPS location. The pharmacy receives notification of new prescription, prepares and delivers it.
There are other services that we offer our users across the region including pharmaceutical consultations, dosage reminders and the Arabic-language pharmaceutical blog that educated users about their treatment. Our business model is commission-based and subscription-based.
EG: What are your achievements and future plans?
DA: Chefaa has been operational since April 2018. We are now operational all-over Egypt and already working on new services to launch and announce soon – all are designed around the lives of chronically ill patients.
EG: How do you find the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Egypt?
DA: Fast and, more importantly, more mature.