Vezeeta, a healthcare platform which provides automated physician, clinic, and hospital bookings, plans to expand its services in the Arab Gulf, Jordan, and Lebanon in 2017. According to Amir Barsoum, Vezeeta co-founder and CEO, the company obtained funding worth $5m last November for future expansion.
How do you see Vezeeta’s level of service in the Egyptian market during the last period?
There is a good demand for Vezeeta’s services with an accelerated growth rate during the past period. Vezeeta currently provides 25,000-30,000 physician bookings per month. Our platform also provides clinic bookings at 3,000 clinics, of which 2,500 physicians are permanently active in Cairo and Alexandria.
What are the targeted local expansions for Vezeeta in the coming period?
We aim to increase online bookings in Egypt to 100,000 bookings by the end of 2017. We also plan to expand our services in the Delta and Upper Egypt. We have already started providing our services in Mansoura.
Will you launch new services in the Egyptian market?
Vezeeta will launch a home-visit service, as well as the evaluation of hospitals, physicians, and prices of surgeries. The new service would allow patients to know the prices of operations and the evaluation of hospitals to facilitate choosing the appropriate hospital. The evaluation would be based on the patients who undergo surgeries.
What are your plans for regional expansion in the coming period?
We are currently working to open a new branch in Dubai. This branch would work as a hub for providing our services in the Gulf region. We also aim to expand in Jordan and Lebanon.
The government has a plan to automate government services, especially in healthcare. Are you cooperating with the government in that manner?
So far, we have not discussed ways to cooperate with the government on information technology solutions. However, we are planning to start negotiations with the government over cooperation in the health sector during the current year, especially as healthcare is a slow sector in using information technology.
We believe that Vezeeta can cooperate with the public sector in providing healthcare services through a new service to be launched soon, but I cannot reveal it now. This new service is expected to be launched during the second half of 2017.
What is the main legislation required for the sector?
We need the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to be passed, because it will positively affect our services growth.
What are your plans for attracting investments in the coming period?
We were able to attract investments worth $5m, led by Emirati BECO Capital with the participation of Swedish company Vostok New Ventures, Egyptian Technology Development Fund, and Jordanian Silicon Badia, and we will use it to finance our expansion plans in the coming period and to launch new products. Therefore, we do not need new investments at the moment.
What are the current growth rates achieved by the company?
We currently achieved accelerated growth rates of 500%.
What do you think about the entrepreneurship and start-up ecosystem?
Egypt and the Arab region started two entrepreneurship models; the first one was imitating the ideas applied in the United States then presenting them in a convenient form to the local market and the Arab region. The other model is about finding innovative ideas to solve our own domestic problems. This second model is based on creativity as most of those thoughts turned out to be unprecedented companies in the global market, and therefore managed to spread in the market, such as Fawry.
The latter model is the better one, because it offers creative solutions to problems experienced by many Egyptians. I noticed in RiseUp Summit 2016 that many young Egyptians are founders of start-ups and they began focusing on creating solutions to problems facing the Egyptian community, which helps emerging companies spread and provide services that drive economic growth.
What do you think is the impact of the current economic milieu on start-ups?
When the economy is in a good state, it supports the growth of companies in general, and vice versa. However, big emerging companies on the global scale achieved great growth rates during periods of economic growth as the customer demand increases. In light of the economic reforms that are currently carried out by the Egyptian state, we expect the market to witness growth opportunities in the coming years.
In time of crisis, young people start exploring entrepreneurship and that is a good thing. When the base of emerging companies expands, the number of successful companies increases.
What does the entrepreneurship ecosystem need?
The ecosystem needs to be completed, which will happen when more successful stories like Fawry emerge.
What are the main challenges the company is facing in the Egyptian market?
The market is suffering from the lack of efficiency, despite having large numbers of young people. Many of the young, competent, and qualified people are attracted to foreign markets, leaving Egypt and causing a brain drain.