DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 17 OCTOBER 2018. Borhene Ben Mena. CEO of Shipa Delivery. (Photo: Antonie Robertson/The National) Journalist: Jennifer Gnana. Section: Business.
Tech investment is key for Shipa Delivery, says CEO Borhene Ben Mena. Antonie Robertson/The National

Exclusive: Agility-owned Shipa eyes $300m in revenue from SME freight bookings

Shipa Delivery, an Agility Company is eyeing $300m in revenue this financial year from rising freight bookings as it plans expansion in the Middle East on the back of the region’s growing e-commerce sector.

The company, which was started as part of regional logistics conglomerate Agility in May allows for the GCC’s small and medium sized businesses to use freight services at an affordable rate, according to its chief executive Borhene Ben Mena.

With around 1,000 SME clients in the UAE, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Jordan, Shipa is eyeing expansion into Egypt and other lucrative markets in Africa.

“[We’re servicing] clients who will not be served by Agility because they’re small,” said Mr Ben Mena.

“Agility caters to large clients who have high purchasing power, and want full service, a dedicated account manager with a blocking capacity up front,” he added.

Kuwait-based Agility, which used to be the key supplier for the US army in Iraq plans to invest at least $2 billion into its business by 2020. Shipa, which is part of its portfolio is betting on the growth of regional e-commerce and has allocated a capital expenditure of $6m this year.

“[Next year], we’re looking to increase that to twice that amount,” he added.

Nearly 80 per cent of the firm’s investments are in technology, of which the company is specifically eyeing the potential to leverage artificial intelligence and block chain.

“We have all these block chain initiatives but we’re not there yet but the technology exists. AI is already mature,” he said.


Read more:

Exclusive: Agility partners with investment firm to bid for Abraaj business, CEO says

Agility second-quarter net profit up 20%, driven by strong logistics business


With capital from Agility, the company is being groomed to disrupt the regional logistics sector allowing for cash-strapped SMEs to have more domestic options to ship with.

Much of the traffic facilitated by Shipa comes from China, which is a key source for garments, textiles and other products imported by regional e-commerce firms.

"The two main geographies are US and China. The UK used to be big but we see that slowing,” said Mr Ben Mena.

Shipa, which carries out around 100,000 bookings of shipping containers per month, is looking to increase the total number to 1 million per year on the growth of regional industry.

Freight handled by the company is more inbound rather than export with Saudi Arabia and the UAE accounting for much of intra-regional trade.

“It costs about $300 per booking, so $300m revenue could be achieved by that in a year maybe,” said Mr Ben Mena, noting that internal targets for the firm are much more aggressive.

The biggest challenge for the player is navigating customs compliance on behalf of SMEs, a tricky area as e-commerce retailers in the region occasionally trade in counterfeit products.

“Everybody is throwing that [compliance] hot potato to his partner in the supply chain,” said Mr Ben Mena.

“In the UAE there is this issue of greenmarket products being mixed with genuine products. As a logistics operator we just make sure that if it’s a sealed product, we deliver it as it is and if it’s an open product then it’s our responsibility to look at what’s inside because we’re packaging it and selling it to clients,” he added.


Director: Sudha Kongara Prasad

Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

Roll of honour 2019-2020

Dubai Rugby Sevens

Winners: Dubai Hurricanes

Runners up: Bahrain


West Asia Premiership

Winners: Bahrain

Runners up: UAE Premiership


UAE Premiership

Winners: Dubai Exiles

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes


UAE Division One

Winners: Abu Dhabi Saracens

Runners up: Dubai Hurricanes II


UAE Division Two

Winners: Barrelhouse

Runners up: RAK Rugby


Director Ashutosh Gowariker

Produced Ashutosh Gowariker, Rohit Shelatkar, Reliance Entertainment

Cast Arjun Kapoor, Sanjay Dutt, Kriti Sanon, Mohnish Behl, Padmini Kolhapure, Zeenat Aman

Rating 3 /stars


Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

What is tokenisation?

Tokenisation refers to the issuance of a blockchain token, which represents a virtually tradable real, tangible asset. A tokenised asset is easily transferable, offers good liquidity, returns and is easily traded on the secondary markets. 


Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates


Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

Energy This Week

Expert analysis on oil & gas renewables and clean energy

      By signing up, I agree to The National's privacy policy
      Energy This Week