By: Ingy ElSafy
Mubasher: Egypt has been seeing a surge in the number of pet owners over the past years, which triggered the demand for providing more veterinary services, pet food and supplies, as well as developing tech-related tools to serve this industry.
Experts noted that the pet food market in Egypt was valued at $284.8 million, with expectations to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 2.5% during 2021-2026.
As mobile applications have become part of our daily life while facilitating for businesses to expand, Mubasher had an interview with Fady Azzouny, Founder and CEO of Vetwork, to be our guest in the Startup Lounge to share his opinion about the most promising market in the region to grow his business.
Azzouny also mentioned the region’s share in the global pet industry, in addition to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and if shifting from practising veterinary to setting up a business could be more profitable.
Pet owners have been increasing noticeably in the past years, would you inform our readers about your service and how it helps both owners and veterinarians?
Vetwork is built by veterinarians and pet parents [people who raise pets at home] for [both] pet parents and pet care service providers; the main mission is to make owning a pet as convenient and easy as possible. We want to make pet ownership, not a liability/responsibility, providing all our services and products at home, covering all our users with emergency services around the clock, and reminding you as a parent [pet owner] with all important dates [vaccination, deworming, and others] for your pet.
As for veterinarians and pet care service providers, we provide them with a lucrative business; our main mission is to provide them with extra education.
In figures, what is the size of Vetwork business in Egypt and the two regional markets you cover?
We currently have more than 300 service providers across Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. We have served and helped more than 16,000 pets.
Do you have to pay risk allowance to your registered veterinarians in case they have to deal with untamed or aggressive pets during their home visits?
This is actually covered by the Egyptian Veterinarians Syndicate, and we always advise our providers to take all precautions needed to stay safe.
It's been almost two years since the pandemic started, how did it affect your business in each of the three countries you work in?
At first, it definitely affected us as a business; our numbers decreased almost 70% as all of us didn’t want to welcome anyone at home but this faded by time.
Moving forward, and as people started to more understand the pandemic, Vetwork started to gain its market position and get its numbers back, as most of the businesses were providing services or delivering products at home. We started implementing safety measures to ensure our safety for customers and providers.
We have also launched new products like online medical consultations and online potty training.
We also created a medical toolkit to complement the online services.
Global trade and importing were severely impacted by the pandemic, how did Vetwork maintain its services amid unstable economic conditions?
Nothing specific was done from our side, but from our suppliers in all countries. We’re talking here about medicine. If they didn’t do their part, it would have been a catastrophe.
In Egypt, do you consider shifting from practising veterinary to setting up your own business could be more profitable? And why?
It’s not really about profitability.
Starting a business is all about fixing something. That’s what people pay for. If I were to choose to be employed I would have chosen something very specific in my profession and excelled in it.
I would actually encourage young veterinarians to not start their business (especially clinics) unless there’s something really unique they are going to provide. The veterinary industry is vast and there is a lot of improvement that can be achieved through innovation and technology.
What do you think lacks the veterinary industry in Egypt, particularly, and in the Middle East in general?
Well back to the quick wins that we can achieve in our region is development.
Learn online or in our amazing universities in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, or the UAE. LEARN, LEARN, LEARN.
You have services in Egypt, KSA, and UAE, Which market do you think is more promising for your business in the coming period? And why?
Saudi Arabia is by far the biggest market in the region; it lacks a lot of services and customers are growing and are willing to pay for good services.
Saudi Arabia is changing and part of this change is the number of growing pet owners. The way Saudis look at pets now is changing, from my own point of view.
Which of the Arab countries do you think has become the leading player in the Veterinary field? And why?
Bahrain and the UAE have the best clinics in terms of devices and diagnostics, but Egypt has the best Veterinarians.
But, the winner in this race, I believe, will be Saudi Arabia for being the biggest market and having strong capital.
Does Vetwork consider expanding internationally or you are satisfied with your current presence in the region?
We will definitely expand outside of the region in three years or once we have our wearable device ready to make animals “Speak”.
When talking about the region, and although the opportunity is huge, its share in the global pet industry is below 5%.
What can the government do to improve the veterinary field in Egypt when it comes to pet and vet industry?
Data of all animals should be accessible by all vets, so for instance -and I’m not talking here about pet animals only, vets should be able to know the medical history of all animals they check. Imagine a country able to know the medical status of all animals and get insights on population and mortality rate, specific diseases, etc.
Do you plan for another fund raising to grow your business?
Yes, we are currently raising a round to further build our technology and expand in new markets. This round will take us to almost 10 times in less than a year due to the very new positive changes in our company and team.
Will you enter any partnerships or projects in the coming period?
Nothing in the horizon, but we are always exploring new partnerships. So, I am encouraging everyone to reach out to us if they have any potential proposal that will eventually help more providers, pets, and their parents.