RANGOON — Traffic has been a common complaint among Rangoon’s residents for some years now, but some creative entrepreneurs are taking a proactive approach to ease the urban curse. Shady Ramadan, who moved to Myanmar from his native Egypt in 2010, is one of them.
Ramadan founded a delivery service called Yangon Door2Door, often just referred to as D2D, in 2013. The small company—the first of its kind in Burma—employs about about 25 people, including delivery staff, who brave the city streets by bicycle to deliver your favorite foods directly to your doorstep.
Door2Door has partnered with about 50 tried and true restaurants in Rangoon, offering a variety of Burmese, Indian, Western and other popular cuisines. Delivery fees are kept about the same as it cost to take a taxi, but it saves customers the time of sitting in traffic and keeps a few extra cars off the road.
The number of vehicles clogging the streets of the commercial capital has skyrocketed in recent years, as reforms that began in 2011 took hold and car import restrictions eased. Ramadan said he noticed the changed and felt compelled to react.
“When I moved to Myanmar in 2010, it hit me then that businesses did not deliver,” said the company’s founder and CEO. “But I never thought of starting a delivery business at that time because it was very easy to move around Yangon.”
Within a few years, he said, that all started to change.
“It no longer took 15 or 20 minutes to go to your favorite restaurant, but more than an hour,” he said.
In the beginning, he faced a lot of challenges starting his business. Hiring was difficult, training messengers was its own challenge and finding restaurants for partnership deals was harder than one might imagine.
The delivery training was possibly the biggest challenge, as Rangoon didn’t have a fully functional geo-location system; the only way for messengers to learn the ropes was to practice, riding around from one restaurant to another to learn all the roads and common routes.
Door2Door still hits a few bumps in the road, and as a service company receives its share of complaints, particularly on social media. One Facebook user recently commented that their delivery took two hours and arrived wet. The customer discovered that their beverages weren’t packaged securely enough for a ride over the city’s rough roads.
Ramadan believes that city planning could benefit his business, his customers and the environment, and he urged policymakers to create safer, more bike-friendly streets and promote awareness about transit alternatives.
“Cycling is the future,” he said. “It’s clean, it’s green, it’s environmentally friendly, healthy and uses less space than vehicles.”
The viability of a food delivery service in Yangon has been doubted in the past, but Yangon Door2Door and CEO Shady Ramadan are growing more popular.
Traditionally, for a city to be suited to a food delivery business, it needed a few things. Firstly, a large, defined central business district with high rise office buildings that allow for a great number of orders concentrated in a small area. The second requirement is an efficient road system that enables delivery drivers, in cars or on motorbikes, to collect the food and deliver it to customers quickly. The final requirement is a population that possess the income and demand for restaurant quality food to be delivered. Shanghai and Bangkok have these qualities, Yangon does not. Despite this, Yangon Door2Door, a food delivery service started by Egyptian Expat Shady Ramadan in 2013, continues to grow and has just secured a 50% equity investment from Mike Than Tun Win, the founder Flymya.com.
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