Can Branded Facelifts Help Save Cairo’s Street Merchants?

A design-savvy start-up wants to modernize mobile kiosks by partnering them with brands eager to enter the Egyptian market

As major supporters of Egypt’s consumer culture, Cairo’s streets are home to numerous kiosks and street vendors, which are growing in both size and number. While Egypt’s governmental bureaucracy oftentimes perceives these operations as a nuisance or even generators of socioeconomic instability, Tayssir Ibrahim is one entrepreneur that looks to these kiosks with great optimism and admiration.

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To harness the growth potential of street vendors, he and a team of entrepreneurs/investors are launching a new business, called Tatweer (the Arabic word for ‘develop’) that will seek to give kiosks facelifts that will also serve as advertising to Red Bull and Coca-Cola, who have already signed on. According to The Atlantic’s City Lab:

In exchange, Coca-Cola’s logo will shine from their painted façades, replacing the dusty umbrellas that currently dominate kiosk exteriors. Red Bull, meanwhile, will get exclusive advertisement rights on eye-level refrigerators adjacent to the kiosks’ windows. Additionally, the flat-screen TV will entice consumers with advertisements for the two products.

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Such an initiative would further support these kiosks in shifting from being perceived as ‘informal economy’ hubs to being legitimate, accountable venues for business. However, it may also erode some of the authenticity and independence these vendors currently enjoy.

Tatweer plans to redesign some 600 stationary kiosks over the next four years and equip some of them with built-in flat-screen TVs, refrigerators, and better mobile payment technology options. All in all, beefing up the infrastructure of the kiosk this way would help these them survive as the rest of the country continues to develop and modernize.

Sources: Citylab, Middle East Institute

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