On October 5, 2020, the U.S. Chamber’s U.S.-Egypt Business Council, in partnership with AmCham Egypt, Inc., hosted a virtual webinar on businesses adapting to COVID-19 in Egypt. The webinar featured testimonies from an esteemed line up of business executives, comprised of PepsiCo Egypt’s Head of Corporate Affairs Ahmed Habous, P&G’s Head of Corporate Affairs for North Africa Tamer Younes, Uber Technologies’ Head of Public Policy for North Africa Ahmed Aly, and CIB’s Chief Executive Officer for Retail Banking Ahmed Issa. While the presenters shared insights from a diverse range of industry focuses, a number of themes emerged throughout each of their remarks, including employee health and safety, agility, and the importance of swift and responsive actions to changing customer habits and needs.
Steve Lutes, Executive Director of the U.S.-Egypt Business Council, opened the webinar asserting, “These are unprecedented times, and we know that it is more important than ever for the private sector and government leaders to be working in close collaboration to steer us through the challenges of COVID-19. We believe it is helpful to understand how businesses are adapting their operations and strategies to meet these challenges and preparing for the next normal.”
The meeting kicked off with opening comments by USEBC Executive Director Steve Lutes and AmCham Egypt, Inc. CEO Hisham Fahmy, and included concluding remarks by Sherif Kamel, President of the Board of Governors for AmCham Egypt, who reflected on his experience as an acclaimed educator and highlighted the many linkages and best practices that transcend industry and have similarly bolstered the response of Egypt’s growing education system.
During the webinar, PepsiCo Egypt’s Ahmed Habous outlined the company’s strategic approach to adapting their business model to best respond to the economic and human impacts of COVID-19, noting that as we all look to navigate the ‘new normal,' PepsiCo is framing its strategic planning in terms of “BC (before COVID-19) and AD (after distancing).” Given the pandemic has impacted every aspect of their business, PepsiCo immediately focused on short term priorities like ensuring provisions to enable social distancing and PPE distribution and also on maintaining their business continuity, which includes ten manufacturing plants across Egypt.
Uber Technologies’ Ahmed Aly commented: "We are honored to take part in today's webinar, organized by the US Egyptian Business Council. The pandemic has made a strong impact on how businesses operate, which is why as a part of Uber's global pledge to help move what matters and make safety a top priority, we launched community initiatives to support frontliners, rolled out delivery products to help connect those who choose to stay at home, and looked for ways to create earnings opportunities for drivers during widespread lock downs."
P&G’s Tamer Younes highlighted their company’s new operating mindset: “Survival is dependent on agility,” and discussed how P&G has leveraged new technologies to ensure social distancing in their offices using QR codes to track employees working in office, as well as adapting to expanding sales avenues on e-commerce platforms like Amazon’s Souq.
Presentations concluded with CIB’s Ahmed Issa who shared his perspectives on Egypt’s macroeconomic outlook, noting a renewed optimism. This is demonstrated in the Egypt’s non-oil private sector growth for the month of September, which achieved its first expansion in 14 months and a sign Egypt may be through the worst of a months-long coronavirus slowdown, according to the HS Markit’s Purchasing Managers’ Index.