Food cart own­ers in fear of de­mo­li­tion, as­pire gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion

EGYPT HAS RE­CENTLY RE­QUESTED 500 FOOD CARTS FROM FRANCE AS PART OF SUP­PORT FOR THE YOUTH EN­TREPRENEUR­SHIP FIELD IN THE COUN­TRY

The Daily News Egypt - - Front Page - By Sarah El-Sheikh

Through­out the past pe­riod, youth food cart projects have spread across the coun­try’s streets and malls, still there is no law le­gal­iz­ing their pres­ence on the streets, which con­tin­ues rais­ing fear among other in­di­vid­u­als to start such projects de­spite their de­sire to do so.

There are mul­ti­ple num­bers of non­govern­men­tal or­ga­ni­za­tions and com­pany grants funds for youth to start small or medium projects, but some­times when it comes to food carts the sit­u­a­tion be­comes more dif­fi­cult due to the fail­ure of mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties to grant li­cens­ing.

In May 2017, Par­lia­ment Mem­ber Ashraf Omara filed a re­quested to the par­lia­ment speaker Ali Ab­dul Aal to le­gal­ize the con­di­tions of food carts in street. His re­quest fol­low­ing pres­i­dent Ab­del Fat­tah Al-Sisi call to grant a li­cense for burger cart owned by a girl in Cairo.The mem­ber re­quest did not re­fer to the projects that are al­ready im­ple­mented in Cairo but await li­cens­ing, he only re­ferred to the youth projects present in Is­mailia gov­er­norate as it was his con­stituency.

Un­der the new the eco­nomic con­di­tions in Egypt that ap­peared in the coun­try dur­ing the re­cent years and the is­sue of limited job op­por­tu­ni­ties, youth be­gan to find their work by their own.

There are num­ber of fast food carts that ap­peared in the coun­try since 2016, sell­ing fries, burg­ers, fresh juices, cup­cakes as well as sushi.All were es­tab­lished by in­di­vid­u­als of good so­cial classes, who are able to fund their projects by their own. Some of th­ese carts stands in mall with very ex­pen­sive rents, and some oth­ers cau­tiously walk­ing around in Cairo streets.

In late Oc­to­ber, Egyp­tian-French agree­ment were signed to boost co­op­er­a­tion in en­trepreneur­ship field, as France aimed at pro­vid­ing food carts to help them set up their own busi­nesses and of­fer more em­ploy­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties, in which Egypt re­quested to fi­nance the pur­chase of 500 mo­bile carts from France. This agree­ment raised ques­tions on what type of carts would be of­fered, and if this would in­crease new food cart projects that re­cently ap­peared in the coun­try.

In re­sponse to the ques­tions re­grad­ing the agree­ment mech­a­nism, Daily News Egypt con­tacted Yasser-Al-Tif­fani, Me­dia Ad­vi­sor to the Min­is­ter of Com­merce and In­dus­try, who ex­plained that the min­istry has re­quested France to of­fer 500 carts, but still they are study­ing the is­sue, so there is no idea about the type of cars or whether hey will be mo­bile food carts for fast food restau­rants or veg­eta­bles cars.

The min­istry is still await­ing the French re­sponse to be able to de­ter­mine the con­di­tions of get­ting such cars, and what could be their spec­i­fi­ca­tions.

Pre­vi­ously in 2015, Min­istry of Sup­ply and In­ter­nal-Trade started ini­tia­tive of the mo­bile car car­ry­ing cooled prod­ucts to be of­fered to young peo­ple to work as mo­bile goods out­lets car­ry­ing food com­modi­ties of meat, poul­try, fish and frozen veg­eta­bles with re­duced prices for cit­i­zens in all gov­er­norates of Egypt.

This came as im­ple­men­ta­tion for Al-Sisi’s to of­fer a large num­ber of mo­bile cars for young peo­ple to sell food com­modi­ties at prices that suit all Egyp­tian fam­i­lies and pro­vide job op­por­tu­ni­ties.

There are an un­count­able num­ber of youth who aim at start­ing such projects, but as­pire gov­ern­ment sup­port, as usu­ally gov­ern­men­tal in­sti­tu­tions set cer­tain con­di­tions for fund­ing youth project, such as ex­clud­ing high de­gree grad­u­ates.

Daily News Egypt spoke to youth from dif­fer­ent so­cial classes to un­der­stand what could the bar­ri­ers that hin­der them from be­gin­ning a food cart project be.

Hamsa El-Nag­gar, mass com­mu­ni­ca­tion grad­u­ate and up­per mid­dle class cit­i­zen, who was not able to work in the field of me­dia said that she wishes to get a fund from the state and a li­cense to fa­cil­i­tate pro­ce­dures to start a food cart project.

“I’m pas­sion­ate about fast food cook­ing, I want to cre­ate my own menu, and of­fer dif­fer­ent food ser­vices through a well-dec­o­rated mo­bile car,” El-Nag­gar said.

El-Nag­gar is also a food blog­ger with over 3000 fol­lower on so­cial me­dia plat­forms. She is also keen to at­tend dif­fer­ent food events hap­pen­ing in the coun­try to ex­pe­ri­ence new kitchens and recipes.The twenty-four-year-old girl was not the only mid­dle class cit­i­zen that com­plained of lack­ing fund­ing to be­gin her dream food cart project.

When ask­ing El-Nag­gar if she would be in­ter­ested if the state of­fered food carts loans, she re­layed that she def­i­nitely would be in­ter­ested to take up the chal­lenge.

Ahmed Yasser, who are cur­rently study­ing in fac­ulty of com­merce at Al-Azhar school said that his skills are not strong enough to qual­ify him to work in a bank where he can re­ceive de­cent salary.

“I work on rented sweet potato’s cart. I get around EGP 120 daily, that helps me to cover my educ­tion ex­penses. My mother is a house wife, she some­times bake some bis­cuits and sell them to neigh­bours to help us, and my fa­ther has re­cently re­tried and gets EGP 900 only as pen­sion. My par­ents in­comes are not even enough to cover our five mem­bers fam­ily needs there­fore I should rely on my­self,’’ the 20-years old com­merce stu­dent, who lives in Em­baba neigh­bour­hood in north­ern Giza said.

Yasser said that he wishes that he could be able to get a loan or a fund to start a food cart. “I will work with other youth in my age, we will be able to af­ford ex­penses and save money to start fu­ture fam­ily later,” he con­cluded.

The com­merce stu­dent was not the only cit­i­zen who wishes a chance from the state to start such project, but even old men stand­ing in front of corn and bean carts as well.

In any busiest street in Egypt full with shops and ven­dors there are def­i­nitely a sweet potato’s, or lupine, or pop corn, or bean cart, that could sud­denly dis­ap­pear if mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fi­cer came to dis­trict for in­spec­tion.

Mah­moud Halawa, co­or­di­na­tor of “Cre­ate” pro­gram to sup­port and de­velop small projects at Ashan Bal­adna As­so­ci­a­tion, told Daily News Egypt, that youth rarely comes to ask for fund for estab­lish­ing food carts.

Mo­bile carts are rarely re­quested from banks, com­pa­nies or as­so­ci­a­tions that grant funds for youth projects, be­cause they will not be able to pro­vide cer­tain head­quar­ter to ful­fil the loan or the grant re­quire­ments.

I’m stand­ing here now, but maybe to­mor­row I might be stand­ing some­where else,” said a twenty years old home sand­wich cart owner.

The twenty-year-old owner stands ev­ery morn­ing in front of a red cart sell­ing cheese and egg sand­wiches as break­fast.He ex­plained that he doesn’t have a spe­cific lo­ca­tion, but he prefers to stand on busy streets to reach more cus­tomers, but once the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of­fice rep­re­sen­ta­tives ap­peared he ran to save his goods.

“I don’t what to do to get a fund to start a proper project. No one told us that we can get any fund to do such a thing, and I don’t know where to go or who to ask,” this was his re­sponse when he was asked why he doesn’t take a loan from the state to de­velop his project.

The young man was not only the one who didn’t know a way for de­vel­op­ment or sup­port for his project, even old men sell­ing hot corns in rented cars.

“My in­come on daily ba­sis is around EGP 150, which is cer­tainly is noth­ing with to­day’s prices”, 56 years old corn seller stand­ing at Dokki street said.

He con­tin­ued that he will def­i­nitely go for food cart project, but the is­sue re­quires aware­ness, ex­plain­ing that no one told or an­nounced such thing be­fore to him.

Ahmed Wally, one of the Shocks burger truck present New Cairo’s Wa­ter­way mall, told Daily News Egypt that “the whole is­sue of con­tin­u­ing food carts idea in Egypt is that it should be le­gal­ized, af­ter sev­eral num­ber of carts have started in dif­fer­ent ar­eas, still they are liv­ing in fears of de­mol­ish by mu­nic­i­pal­ity, seek­ing gov­ern­ment recog­ni­tion”.

Wally ex­plained that idea of food carts seems work­ing well, but be­ing un­able to ob­tain li­cense is im­pact­ing its suc­cess and sta­bil­ity, set­ting an ex­am­ple that some youth starts some food carts project with low in­vest­ment so if their work get de­mol­ished they would not loose too much.

“But by this way, they are not of­fer­ing clean ser­vice for clients. In my opin­ion state re­con­di­tion is im­por­tant not for only solv­ing em­ploy­ment is­sue, but to also ben­e­fit the state it­self through­out taxes that will help the econ­omy’, he con­tin­ued adding that, “recog­ni­tion will al­low the food owner to pay elec­tric­ity, and re­ceive health li­cense that will as­sure his work qual­ity.”

Wally started his project with two part­ners, through own fund.T his is not the first project to be self funded, the ma­jor­ity of the re­cent food carts were im­ple­mented in the same way.

“Even if one is able to fund a project the li­cense is­sue will re­main an ob­sta­cle in the way.The li­cense will not only grant the sta­bil­ity of the project but will also guar­an­tee its suc­cess. Be­gin­ning a project on the streets, is not as ex­pen­sive as rent­ing a place in a mall,” he con­cluded.

The owner ex­pressed his wish that such projects would boost the food carts market in Egypt, con­firm­ing that there will no be great com­pe­ti­tion as Egyp­tians are high food con­sumers.

“I’M STAND­ING HERE NOW, BUT MAYBE TO­MOR­ROW I MIGHT BE STAND­ING SOME­WHERE ELSE”

EVEN IF ONE IS ABLE TO FUND A PROJECT THE LI­CENSE IS­SUE WILL RE­MAIN AN OB­STA­CLE IN THE WAY

Shocks burger truck

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