NRFF Executive Director, Kathy Mance, and Director of Retail Learning Solutions, Sarah Conrad, traveled to Alexandria, Egypt to present at a conference of 1,000 members of the Chamber of Commerce. As part of the opening ceremony, Kathy officially signed an agreement with Chamber Chairman Ahmed El Wakil to develop and localize a Retail Training and Certification program, witnessed by H. E. Engineer Rachid Mohamed Rachid, Minister of Trade and Industry of the Arab Republic of Egypt. The program will be available to Egyptian institutions of higher learning later this summer.
Kathy Mance featured in a local Alexandria newspaper signs an agreement to develop and localize a Retail Training and Certification program with leaders from the Chamber of Commerce.
H.E. Minister Rachid’s keynote address spoke to the need for modernizing the industry through city planning for allocation of commercial activities and licensing businesses, including retailers, so that commerce is no longer able to take place in basements, garages or on the pavement, as has been the custom. This, Minister Rachid noted, will provide every honest trader an environment in which he can succeed as he is able to protect and serve customers. He explained that “man is the backbone of development – any development” and encouraged Chamber members to work with his department to change policies.
After hearing from government officials, educators and retailers, it became clear that NRFF will have an important role in helping to shape Egypt’s retail economy by working with the Alexandria Chamber to deliver training and certification in customer service, sales and selling skills and retail management.
During their visit, Kathy and Sarah were able to witness firsthand a unique view of Egyptian retailing as they made their way through Egypt’s legendary Khan-el-Khalili market, a labyrinth of streets lined with shops selling goods of every description. They enjoyed the bustling energy and familial atmosphere in the Egyptian marketplace and quickly understood the diversity in business practice among these retailers, whose shops have been passed down through families for generations. In addition they visited more familiar mall stores and talked with some “traders,” as retailers are known in the area.
As part of their travels, Kathy and Sarah take time to tour Cairo by camel, visit Egypt’s legendary Khan-el-Khalili market, and talk with some “traders.”
As part of the government’s aggressive plan to improve their retail economy, the Ministry of Trade and Industry is supporting the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce’s partnership with NRFF to develop curriculum and certifications to bring industry standards and best practices to Egypt to advance Egyptian retailers’ ability to better understand and serve customers. Later this summer, the Chamber plans to offer three levels of training: Customer Service, Sales and Retail Management. Certification exams in Customer Service and Retail Management will be the capstone to the blended learning programs delivered through the Arab Academy for Science, Technology and Maritime Transport.
“The academicians and retailers of Alexandria look to NRFF to gain a better understanding of the skills and knowledge most critical to retail work, as well as a training strategy for promoting career advancement to provide a better experience for the customer. Our plan was enthusiastically received and it validated our work to date and made us very excited to continue and complete the work ahead,” said Sarah.
Kathy agreed, “The highlight of my trip was gaining an understanding of the government’s aggressive plan to work to achieve an educated, honest, and systematic approach to retail. Real change is in the air and I’ll be very interested to watch these efforts bear fruit and pleased to know that NRF, through the NRF Foundation, is playing an important role in this transformation.”
The Alexandria Chamber of Commerce plans to send a delegation to NRF’s BIG Show next January to learn from practitioners across the world and to continue discussions that began at last week’s inaugural conference. Kathy and Sarah look forward to welcoming these new partners to NRF’s 100th Birthday Celebration in New York City, NY.