talabat managing director Francisco De Sousa.
talabat Qatar, the region’s leading local tech platform, delivering food, groceries, pharma, flowers, and other solutions has played a major role in Qatar during the Covid-19 pandemic by standing alongside government authorities and frontliners at the height of the health crisis.
Francisco De Sousa, the company’s managing director, explained to Gulf Times some of the key initiatives talabat has introduced to a variety of sectors in Qatar to support the whole eco-system in Qatar.

Gulf Times
: The disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have caused significant impact not only on global economies, in general, but directly on people’s lives. How did talabat operate in Qatar at the height of the pandemic and what role did the company play during these challenging times?

De Sousa: First of all, I would like to thank His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, the government entities, and all the frontliners during the pandemic, who attended to the safety and welfare of the country, its citizens, and residents.
As an organisation, we are always keen to join the ministries and other authorities during crisis meetings to provide any support or assistance required from our side. I applaud the government for doing a tremendous job, especially during the initial stages of the pandemic. This collaboration is extremely valuable and we are grateful for being able to offer our extended support.
We have observed that so much has changed in terms of consumer behaviour. And talabat was able to respond well to these changes, especially during the pandemic. At that time, so many people were unable to leave their homes but we were able to play a huge role in making sure that we could supply the entire ecosystem, by providing not only food, but also groceries, medicines and many more.
I would also like to thank our riders who were the heroes who kept everyone safe and at home, while delivering essentials as well as food during the pandemic. I personally feel so much pride when I see them on the roads. There have been frequent posts from the general public about the wonderful acts of kindness the riders have selflessly done over the past few years. It is heartwarming to see their contribution to the Qatari society.

Tell us more about your impact on the groceries market.

We have partnered with the major hypermarkets in Qatar, such as Monoprix and Spar, which played a major role in supporting the community during the pandemic.
We also launched talabat mart, which revolutionised grocery delivery and q-commerce in the region in the pandemic. We were able to provide a service that no other big players could – groceries to your door within half an hour.
q-commerce is the next generation of e-commerce. This means instantly (in less than 30 minutes) delivering to the customer whatever they want, whenever they need it. Having dark stores makes this possible as it’s not customer facing, which makes the picking process much faster.
The q-commerce industry is really taking off in the Mena region and is expected to more than double from $9bn last year to $20bn by 2024.

What role has talabat played in revolutionising Qatar’s food delivery ecosystem?

We see the company as an added value to the community. As a tech company offering new solutions to the country, we make sure that our customers get their groceries, food, medicines, and other goods on time and at the right price. It should be hassle-free and with the most number of choices as possible.
talabat has been a major contributor to the growth of Qatar’s e-commerce sector because we are not only witnessing a positive transformation in consumer behaviour but also a significant growth in our partners’ business operations pre- and post-Covid-19 through the online market.
On the tech side, talabat is working with several startups in Qatar, such as Airlift Systems, which specialises in autonomous mobility in food delivery. It was incubated at Qatar Science & Technology Park (QSTP). We also partnered with the healthcare provider ‘At Home Doc’, in the delivery of medications to our customers’ doorsteps. We even offer the service to book online sessions with doctors.
So, talabat is not only here to complement the ecosystem but also to support the different projects that are being implemented in the country. We are also proud to become an inspiration to other tech companies, as our presence in Qatar helped revolutionise the e-commerce industry.
One of the pillars of Qatar National Vision 2030 is the diversification of the economy. In 2021, we launched several projects which had a major impact across the vision’s four pillars. This year, we want to raise the bar mostly in tech innovation, as well as through the ‘Made in Qatar’ partnerships with Qatari entities, which we will support to grow locally and internationally. We also have an important focus on sustainability, especially through our ‘Sustainable Packaging Programme’.

What partnerships has talabat forged with stakeholders in the country and what advantages or benefits did these collaborations offer to your customers and the Qatari market?

To support restaurants and shops, we have launched several initiatives. One of the major examples was that we heavily invested in our finance capabilities, providing cash flow within three working days to all our partners. No other competitor in the region has implemented such an initiative to alleviate the financial burden on small and medium enterprises.
As you know, while delivery soared, dine-in stopped to a crawl. This allowed our vendors to have their liquidity on-hand to be able to make decisions to get their business through Covid-19, while not being hamstrung by antiquated payment structures.

What is talabat’s contribution to Qatar’s goal becoming a major leader in human capital development in the region?

There is a big pool of talent in Qatar, and we’re excited to recruit and grow the business in support of the Qatar National Vision 2030. We currently have more than 200 employees, we started empowering local talent and we are planning to open new positions and grow our number of employees in Qatar.
This year, talabat signed three MoUs with major educational institutions: Qatar University (QU), Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU), and the College of the North Atlantic – Qatar (CNA-Q). These MoUs allow us to provide internship opportunities to the youth in Qatar. We want to scale up this initiative considering that we are expecting more opportunities and more projects here in the pipeline. We also want to grow the number of universities we partner with, in the future. In the near future, we will announce an interesting project in Qatar. Stay tuned.

Lately, companies are progressively focusing on social responsibility impact. Kindly elaborate on some of talabat’s CSR initiatives in Qatar.

The company has supported many different humanitarian programmes, such as those initiated in Palestine, Sudan, and Lebanon, among others. For instance, after the tragic explosion in Lebanon, talabat was able to send humanitarian supplies through Qatar Airways, in collaboration with Qatar Charity and Monoprix.
In Qatar, talabat was also the first company to allow its customers to send donations through its app. We managed to send these donations seamlessly to organisations, such as Qatar Charity and Qatar Red Crescent, among others. This was a first in Qatar, making it an outstanding initiative because of its positive impact on the community.
In line with our commitment to a sustainable future, we partnered with the Ministry of Municipality last year during the International Plastic Bag Free Day, encouraging customers to reduce plastic pollution and protect the environment.

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