Libya is a country which is easily associated with intense turmoil, a country that has plunged into an irretrievable mess, war-torn with nothing to express hope for. But the new generation of tech entrepreneurs have been emboldened by the tough conditions in Libya, have transcended the boundaries and are finding opportunities in such a mess.
Among these is Fatima Nasser. Much of her teen life was characterized by the destruction and turmoil following the Arab revolution that ousted Muammar Gaddafi, but Nasser asserts that the instability and economic woes inspired her to be an entrepreneur.
The 21-year-old Nasser Fatima has created an app called Yummy that delivers homemade meals cooked by Libyan women from their own kitchens. The app has undergone a successful trial in her hometown Sabha. 300 cooks are ready to commence work when the app launches in Tripoli and Benghazi, the two largest cities in Libya. As there are efforts to help the Libyan economy diversify from its reliance on oil, entrepreneurial development is being widely encouraged and Yummy is a product of such.
Launching a start-up in an instable country comes with a host of problems. Some include security threats, poor physical and financial infrastructure and regular internet and power blackouts. It is not a walk in the park. But Nasser is very much aware of all this. She says that she has created a list of everything that can go wrong during delivery and she has a solution for each.
One major threat is delivering food in unsafe areas with high carjacking rates. To solve this, Yummy has set up neutral meeting points within the city, so that the order can be delivered as close to the customer as possible without endangering the driver. Issues like problematic internet are to worry about, but for blackouts this can be solved by providing numbers so that there can be manual delivery, according to Nasser.
It's all about the women, and not necessarily the profit, according to Nasser. The app's potential social impact is what drives her more than the lure of profits. The World Bank says that one in Libya, one in four women work. The need for change, which will be gradual, is what motivates Nasser.
"When you come up with a new idea in a society like this, you really have to take into consideration the traditions and the social limitations. We didn't want to come up with an idea that people would be afraid of," she says.
With Yummy, life is relatively easier for women as they are able to work from home, anonymously, without having to interact with male customers. With the raging, unending war, everything is just dangerous for women.
Yummy contains all the potential to become a major life support for women in Libya. It's an inspiring story, one that requires lots of continuous input.
In 2017, Tatweer Research, a government-funded company dedicated to creating Libya's knowledge economy, teamed up with MIT Enterprise Forum Pan Arab to launch Libya's first ever Enjazi Startup Competition -- Yummy was one of its three winners.
Header image credit: CNN