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ANGOLA - Telecoms & IT

Najib El-Berbari

Founder & CEO, Ta Cuiar Angola

Bio

Najib El-Berbari is the Founder and CEO of Ta Cuiar, a diversified Online Shopping Platform launched in Angola since Oct 2020, responsible for overseeing all facets of the organization, Najib drives the mission, fundraising, investment, operations, and engagement with the collaborators. He has single-handedly turned the organization around by aligning the day-to-day work with values around diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility. Najib has a proven executive management track record and over 25 years of experience driving sales growth, implementing his managerial skills and leadership in creating new departments and new companies. Najib passion is creating new businesses and investing in new ventures, where he is now involved in developing two new digital APPs. Prior to Ta Cuiar, Najib Founded El-B Group that had various investments in trading, Logistics, and service. Before that, Najib was Comercial Director of Qualimarcas between 2011 and 2015 where he was the GM of Lara Transportes between 2009 and 2013. Lara transport was part of Qualimarcas group where Najib was handling the 2 positions at the same time between 2011 and 2013. Before getting promoted to GM of Lara Transportes, Najib handled various positions withing Angoalissar (big food distribution company based in Angola), where he joined in 2005 as Product Manager of Frozen Goods and was promoted to Business Manager of Frozen Goods, and then Business Manager of Commodities and Frozen Goods, until 2008 where he occupied the cargo of Business Development Manager until 2009. Between year 2000 and 2004, Najib worked as Purchasing Manager in Abela Group in Yemen Catering Services where the company was providing catering and laundry services to the oil sector in Yemen. During his career, Najib attended many international conferences, and international fairs worldwide that helped him create a huge multinational network in diversified lines of business. Najib has graduated from the Lebanese American University in Byblos-Lebanon with a BS in Computer Science, in addition to all the business courses required for MBA.

"Ta Cuiar is a digital platform for online shopping that started in October 2020 with 10 stores."
TBY talks to Najib El-Berbari, Founder & CEO of Ta Cuiar Angola, about e-commerce, opportunities in the country, and goals for near term.
Ta Cuiar has been described as an Angolan e-commerce marketplace. What inspired you to start this platform?

Ta Cuiar is a digital platform for online shopping that started in October 2020 with 10 stores. Our platform’s aim is to bring the biggest and best brands and products to consumers at the same prices and conditions they would find in any physical store. Some might think they will be charged more because they are purchasing online; however, that is not the case with Ta Cuiar. We focused on the biggest brands and product categories such as IT, electronics, home appliances, fashion, alcoholic beverages, and tobacco, in addition to gourmet products, toys, equipment, tools, pet supplies, and some health items. We are growing the business in Angola, even though we entered the country late because there were no financial solutions to support digital payments at that time. With the creation of Multicaixa Express and other digital payment solutions, we were able to improve our e-commerce platform’s performance.

How did you determine what kinds of products to offer on the platform?

We wanted to provide a full online shopping mall experience—a one-stop shop where people could find all the products they need. That is why we categorized and selected products that would fit our target market. It is challenging in Angola to sell products that can be found in stores, as people can find them anywhere. We focused on high-end and top-quality products and brands. We have categorized our platform accordingly to provide the best user experience for our customers.

What challenges did you encounter when you started the platform, and how do you overcome them?

At the beginning, launching the platform was a significant challenge because we needed to finalize all digital payment solutions. In Angola, there is a solution called Payment by Reference that generates a code or number for customers to pay with. We also integrated the Multicaixa Express platform into our website. However, many clients in Angola are still wary of shopping online, and some prefer to pay when they receive the product. As a result, we had to adapt to the needs of our clients. Some also prefer to pay with cash, while others want to use debit cards, so we had to make arrangements to receive cash payments or provide POS machines during deliveries. We are one of the few digital platforms that accept payment by Visa card, and we have integrated it into our payment options. Additionally, some clients want to verify our existence and come down to our office to see the product, make their purchase, and take it with them. We assumed that we would operate as a fully digital platform, though the reality in Angola proved otherwise. Angolans have had negative experiences with fraud on digital platforms before, so they are reluctant to try something new. To build trust with our customers, we need to have a physical presence to prove that we are a credible platform. Thankfully, since we started, things have improved. Some of our clients are visiting Angola and do not have an Angolan debit card or access to Multicaixa Express, which is why it is important to have a variety of payment options available. We have another project in partnership with Visa that aims to introduce a new solution in the future: help our local industry export their products.

As an entrepreneur, what are the biggest opportunities and challenges in the e-commerce space in Angola?

E-commerce in Angola is still in the nascent stages, and there is still a long way to go. We do not consider other e-commerce businesses as competitors, as each one has its own niche and solutions for the market. There is plenty of room for growth and improvement in our business. One of the projects we are currently working on is expanding our export capabilities. We offer a wide variety of products and have all the major brands available in the market. We strive to have a diverse mix of brands and categories, which is advantageous for our customers. We are also working on introducing other categories. The potential to scale up our e-commerce business is enormous.

What are your goals for the platform in the short and midterm, and how do you plan to achieve them?

We always strive for innovation and aim to improve our solutions to offer the best user experience to our clients. We are constantly working on enhancing the usability and navigation of our website. We are also in the process of launching our digital app. In addition, we are collaborating with various companies and institutions to provide solutions for their clients and employees. We are also becoming the go-to search engine and catalog positioning for international brands that are interested in entering the Angolan market.

What is your advice for international investors keen to enter the Angolan market?

We need international investors to bring in new solutions and invest in the solutions that we have on hand. One of the challenges that Ta Cuiar and other digital platforms and start-ups face is attracting venture capitalists or investors to inject capital into these start-ups and take us to the next level. International brands that want to enter the country can have direct access to selling their products on our platform. We are not only looking to expand within Angola, but also to other countries. Angola is a promising country with several opportunities available. There is a significant gap and a need for digital development, and any type of international investments coming with a solution would be welcomed. We have the necessary infrastructure ready to receive such investment, as the country has improved tremendously in recent years. We can now compete and grow our businesses in Angola.

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