Rabat’s runway, a food firm cutting back on waste and the footwear company that’s still a step ahead.
Over the past few decades, Rabat-Salé airport has become a key transport and logistics hub in western Morocco; by 2018, almost one million passengers had passed through it. To boost things further, the government has launched a €150m renovation plan as part of its ambitious overhaul of Morocco’s transport network.
The project involves expanding the cargo terminal, which is expected to quadruple the capacity for freight to a massive 280 tonnes a year, making the airport part of a corridor of trade stretching from Casablanca to Tangier and further across Africa. The revamped terminal will create 1,700 jobs directly, with more added indirectly.
It will also be a boon for the tourism industry, which is currently exploding. A second terminal will be added and the airport’s interior modernised, with new passenger bridges, parking and services such as duty-free shops. The building will also include energy-efficient materials to reduce its impact on the environment. Once finished in 2024, it’s hoped that the result will attract up to four million passengers a year and relieve some of the strain on other nearby airports.
“Our assessment is that the burden is almost all on Casablanca,” says Leila Mokadem, Morocco country manager for the African Development Bank Group, which is funding the project along with the government. “It’s important to create a new way to drive passengers through Rabat. Passenger traffic has been rising consistently by, we estimate, an average of 6 per cent every year.”
Infrastructure is key for emerging economies and this is a solid step towards upgrading Morocco’s air offering and increasing its importance in African trade. “The point here is to use an integrated approach in order to help the region’s economic development,” says Mokadem. “This will contribute to regional integration, which is critical for Africa.”
Five years ago, Alexandru Iliescu, 38, co-founded language-learning app Mondly with his brother. It now has more than 35 million users across 190 countries and Iliescu was named founder of the year at the Central European Start-up awards.
One key aspect of the app is that users can learn a new tongue using any of the 33 other languages available. “Coming from Romania, and having worked in many countries, I realised that apps were serving English speakers or, occasionally, German or Spanish,” says Iliescu. “We created a system where you could learn all of our languages from any other language.” The firm also offers virtual-reality learning.
Q: What would you spend €5,000 on?
Answer: “Many of our team are recent graduates. I would spend the money at a university on hardware that it wouldn’t normally buy – virtual-reality headwear, experimental stuff – to aid students’ growth. Something that thousands could use.”
It’s summer and flip-flops are ubiquitous. We catch up with the woman responsible for the dominance of Brazil’s iconic Havaianas brand, which sells 200 million pairs a year.
What does Havaianas have planned this summer?
It’s the summer of the Netflix shoe: we’ve collaborated with shows such as Stranger Things. In Brazil we’re extending the summer spirit to clothes and accessories; we’re more of a lifestyle brand there.
How important is design?
It’s critical. We have teams of designers that go to industry shows and spend time in trendsetting cities. This has a huge influence on the colours we use for our products.
Does Havaianas still believe in physical retail?
Having stores where customers can test shoes and get a feel for new styles is fundamental to our success. Digital sales only make up 30 per cent of overall sales in our most internet-savvy markets; in Brazil it’s 3 per cent.
Any tips for other businesses?
Keep it fun. Consumers see us as a playful brand and that makes us easy to collaborate with.
Almost $1trn (€786bn) of food is thrown away, lost or wasted every year – and the hospitality industry is among the biggest culprits. But companies have started to catch up.
Among them is Karma, an app that has more than 625,000 users in Sweden and is now rolling out in London, where it is already used by 125,ooo. It allows restaurants, cafés, grocers and bakeries to sell surplus produce at half-price. More than 2,900 have signed up, including Caravan, Aubaine and Taylor St Coffee. “Food waste can work for you rather than against you,” says co-founder and ceo Hjalmar Stahlberg Nordegren.