Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Thursday, 12 March 2009

From traffic jam to cash flow

Rush hour traffic, Cairo
Cairo's streets are notorious for their congestion
With millions of cars on the streets and hundreds of thousands added every year, parking in Cairo is a daily dilemma.

There is parking, double parking and sometimes even triple parking.

Nasser Sedky, 39, took advantage of this situation by starting his own valet parking business.

He had only $10 to his name. But now he employs 50 drivers. He spoke to Ranyah Sabry, as part of the BBC's African Economy week.

When you are looking for a parking spot in Cairo, sometimes a young man will appear from nowhere.

He shouts out - to tell you he is in charge of this sector of the pavement.

If there is a parking spot, he offers you instructions for parking.

If there is not, you can leave him your keys and he will tuck it in down one of the side streets while you run your errands.

I was one of those young men, known in Cairo as "ssayess".

My domain was in front of a pub in Cairo, and I had a lot of regular customers.

Nasser Sedky
I used the only $10 I had to print my first business cards

One day six years ago, one of my regulars asked me to gather a few of my colleagues and help him with an event to be held at his villa.

We were to offer valet parking: meeting the guests at the gate, taking their cars and parking them down the street until they wanted to leave.

During the evening, I overheard the guests saying they wished they could hold parties at their own villas, but parking would be the major problem.

Overnight I had the idea for my own project.

In the morning I used the only $10 I had to print my first business cards - "NN company valet parking for events".

I knew I had a lot of friends and colleagues I could rely on to join me for an evening's work.

I now recruit over 50 drivers on freelance basis. I manage up to three events a day all over the country.

I printed pairs of cards with the company logo, two mobile numbers and a serial number.

When the guest hands over his car to one of the drivers, he hands him back one of the cards and keeps the other inside the car.

Before the guest is leaving the venue, he gives us a phone on the mobile number on the card and we make sure the car is right at the door when he is leaving.

This made my team more efficient and competent and the traffic flows in no time.

Trust and respect

Business values are also important. I have to take good care of the cars because their owners trust me with them.

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My driving and the respectable manner of speech is what made me popular with the visitors of the pub so I make sure that any driver who joins me is of the same standard.

After the cards, I started making uniforms for my drivers.

When I am interviewing a new driver I try him out on my personal car first, not one of the guest's.

I also have to test his honesty. I check out how he talks and deals with the customer because the customer is always right.

One day, a new driver crashed a guest's car.

I rented the guest a car for the time it took the damaged car to be fixed and paid all costs.

It cost me all my savings. But it made sure that, for the customers, I was in a category all of my own.

You can take part in a debate about business in Africa on the Tuesday 10 March edition of BBC Africa Have Your Say.

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