INTERVIEW: Sarah on a motorcycle: Delivering independence

Mai Samih , Thursday 4 Nov 2021

Delivery worker Sarah Eid is opening the door for women to work in delivering packages, a typically male job in Egypt.

Sarah Eid
Delivery worker Sarah Eid sitting on her motorcycle. Photo courtesy of Sarah Eid Facebook page.

When customers order something from a shop in Egypt, it is usually a male delivery person who delivers it to their doorsteps.

Now women have also started to work in this field.

Cairo resident Sara Eid, 28, a divorced mother of one son, is a pioneer.

She is working as a delivery lady as a part-time job in order to make ends meet.

 “Four years ago, I got divorced, and I was left with my little boy to provide for. So, I decided to start delivering packages with my scooter to make ends meet,” Eid said, adding that her family knew that she would take public transport to go to work in the morning. It was later another form of transport that gradually turned into a business.

“My sister supported me when I told her I wanted to buy a scooter to go to work on. This was my intention at first. But then I started to post advertisements on different Facebook and Whatsapp groups in which I offered cheaper delivery services than some companies that could cost customers up to LE70 per delivery. I charge a customer an average of LE40 to LE50,” Eid said. She determines the cost of delivering a package according to the destination.

It was sheer coincidence that caused Eid to learn how to ride a motorcycle. It was her brother who taught her when she asked him to ride his. She dropped out of the 6th year of primary school but has a literacy certificate. She is now determined to give her son a good education and a better future.

“I finish my day job at about 5pm. Then, I start posting on Facebook or Whatsapp and offer delivery services. I write my route for the day and my mobile number. Customers then start to contact me. They send me the location, and I go to deliver the package,” Eid said.

She delivers everything from frozen food to clothing, and she has set days for each type of item. Most customers are happy to discover that it is a woman delivering their packages, especially female customers, and this encourages them to continue dealing with her. “After I deliver a package, some people keep in touch with me and ask me to buy them stuff and deliver it to them again,” Eid said.

But there are drawbacks for her in taking on a job more usually done by men. “I am unable to go to distant places like Maadi and Helwan since I do not have the relevant licence, which would cost me about LE3,000. When I first started working in this field, I would get offensive comments from passers-by or subjected to difficult situations. I was once delivering a package when a couple of young men started to harass me. I told them that I was working to make a living, which is better than staying at home and asking someone to support me,” Eid said.

“I tell people who don’t approve of a woman delivering packages that circumstances are the main reason behind me taking up the job, even though I sometimes think it is not really suitable for me as a woman. I have a little boy to provide for who needs food, clothing and education, and I cannot support both of us from my day job. Besides, I love what I do, and it is better than sitting around in a coffee shop like some young men who don’t have jobs,” she added. Most of her customers are educated and from the middle class.  

There are other drawbacks. “Some customers are not very nice,” Eid said. “Once, my scooter broke down, and I called a client to apologise for coming late, but he shouted at me anyway. Some customers send me the wrong location, so I ask them to write their address and send it to me via Whatsapp,” she added.

But there are also many good sides to the job. “Sometimes, customers call me and thank me for the delivery. I now also have four other delivery men working with me, whom I contact via mobile phone,” Eid said.

 “I usually post the places that I deliver parcels to on a daily basis. At first, I would deliver to places like Nasr City, Kobri Al-Kobba, Hadayek Al-Kobba, Matareya, Naam, Helmeya and Heliopolis. Now I have extended my services to all of Heliopolis, Gessr Al-Suez, Nasr City, Shubra, Ramses and the Downtown area,” she added.

She is satisfied with what she is doing and encourages other women to work in the same field. “I think that it is a good job for someone who really wants to work. I encourage all women who want to work in this field, as there is nothing in it that is difficult. If a woman wants to prove her competency in any field, she can do it,” Eid said.

Her working day starts at 6am and ends at 10pm, so she appreciates the support of her family members, especially her mother. “The person who has supported me the most is my mother who looks after my son when I am at work. She has always been there for me,” she added.

“I would like to have a licence for a bigger bike, and in future I would like to have my own company. Then I could have a good home for my son and myself,” Eid concluded.

*A version of this article appears in print in the 4 November, 2021 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly

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