Leveraging over 17 years of telecom industry experience, Karrar Al-Taie utilised his corporate background to design an imaginative new enterprise – founding Lemune, an innovative grocery delivery service aiming to reinvigorate grocery shopping in Iraq. After recognising the public sector’s bureaucratic limitations during a brief government stint post-university, Karrar pivoted to the private sphere, climbing Zain’s ranks whilst accumulating invaluable expertise. This seasoned telecom savvy ultimately catalysed his breakout into entrepreneurship – assembling ex-colleagues to launch a grocery delivery disruptor for modern Iraq.
Graduating as a civil engineer from The University of Technology in 2006, Karrar soon found himself in a government job. It only took him three months to realise that the bureaucracy of the public sector prevented him from unlocking his full potential. So, he switched to the private sector, working with Zain (formerly known as MTC). As a site engineer at Zain he was building telecom towers all over Iraq—a job faced with many challenges due to the unsettling political climate of Iraq at the time.
Karrar prides himself on his year and a half transition rate from one position to the next during his seventeen years at Zain. This played a role in accumulating his experiences and connections, which he later utilised to launch Lemune.
Lemune was launched with a group of colleagues from Zain, and the venture was funded by some of the investors there.
It all started when my colleagues and I got together and decided to establish an Iraqi grocery delivery service. We took the playbook and implemented it in an Iraqi way. The entire process took us eight months.Karrar Al-Taie, CEO Lemune
Their services are currently available in Baghdad, Karbala, and Basra, with more provinces on the way. They also have a physical store in the “Iraq Gate” apartment complex, where they have over 700 employees, all within one year from their launch. It is without a doubt that Lemune is a success story, but it did come with its own set of challenges.
Lemune started as a fleet management project with no dark stores and soon shifted to end-to-end customer service due to the unreliability of third-party supermarkets and grocery stores. The systems for fleet, warehouse, and financial management are all digitised to reduce errors.
Another challenge faced was the rigid regulations on motorcycles by the government. Lemune possesses a warrant from Baghdad operations to facilitate their fleet management. While they’re currently working alongside government officials to create a conducive environment for the growth and success of delivery businesses in general, the ultimate goal is attracting more investors.
Karrar is highly attentive to the details. From the recruitment and training of drivers and grocery store owners, to the environmentally friendly packaging made of paper or recycled plastic. The goal is to ensure the team is well equipped to provide excellent customer service whilst uniquely designed packaging ensures items are protected during delivery.
Although the amount invested in Lemune is less than its competitors, they managed to become the leading grocery delivery company in Iraq within six months. Their strategy focuses on enticing local investors with shared goals and establishing a relationship based on trust and transparency. Their business model means they will only be profitable after five years.
The investor must understand the business model and must be informed of the worst-case scenario. Our target during the second round of investment was to find investors from the same sector.Karrar Al-Taie, CEO Lemune
Diversity in investors is important as well. One of the investors is a supermarket chain that found potential in the app and the team, thus taking a shortcut by investing and supplying the already established delivery service rather than spending time and resources starting their own from scratch. Also, Lemune is in advanced talks with a major ISP in Iraq regarding potential acquisition, which they are welcoming.
When asked about the intentions of the investors, Karrar remained vague, emphasising openness to the possibility of eventually selling and considering it a strategic approach. As the company explores acquisition and investing opportunities, they continue to grow and expand for the time being. However, questions arise regarding the long-term vision and the fate of the company.
Nevertheless, their loyal user base is growing rapidly and happy customers enthusiastically share their orders on social media. Customers are expressing contentment with what was once a tiring, mundane everyday task.
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