The company, founded by Yousef Albarqawi, Becky Jefferies and Dina Mohammad-Laity, is on a mission to help companies take better care of their people by freeing HR teams from convoluted and time-consuming administrative work.
Alfii comes at a time when HR owners need more than ever to focus on engaging, supporting, and caring for their people, while navigating the new dimensions of remote, hybrid and contingent workforces in this post-pandemic world of work. This is especially true for those with modern workforces and fast-growing organizationslike startups and SMEswhere the HR teams are overwhelmed and struggling to keep up.
For companies to remain competitive today, they need to be laser-focused on providing a better employee experience, which is only possible if HR teams are freed from the overwhelm of
administrative tasks, said Yousef Albarqawi, CEO. But most of them are still relying on outdated, non-digitized or highly fragmented systems to manage people ops. With Alfii, HR owners will be able to manage all employee data through one holistic solution.
More powerful and comprehensive tools like Alfii are becoming increasingly necessary for HR owners in order to free up time for them to focus on more critical workforce challenges faced by startups and SMEs today.
Alfiis co-founders, Yousef, Dina, and Becky, are no strangers to these challenges. Despite having spent their careerswhich together comprise a long list of tech heavyweights like Uber, Deliveroo, Property Finder and Talabatin non-HR business functions, they still experienced first-hand the pains of slow, manual HR processes.
Yousef, in particular, had become acutely aware of how broken it was throughout his career as an operator, during which he hired and managed over a thousand people. He realized there was no consistent record or single source of truth for employee data that he could compare to a quality CRM systemeven though staffing costs are the single biggest cost item for most companieswhich made it easy for critical information to get lost. Administrative tasks were manual and time-consuming, and existing HR tools were way too complicated to use.
After speaking to hundreds of HR leaders, he and his co-founders noticed gaps in every alternative HR solution: platforms are either outdated, too complicated to integrate, unaffordable
for smaller businesses, or they simply arent built to accommodate the future of work. Because of this, startups and SMEs are left with very few suitable tools for their size.
Whats more, 36% of companies with 11 to 50 people dont have an HR function at all, and this number goes up to 68% for those with less than 10 peoplewhich means the HR responsibilities fall on the shoulders of founders and business owners.
Yousef came to the realization that this was a very real problem, and saw a prime opportunity to create change for exasperated HR owners. He elaborated, were on a journey to give all businesses access to tools that help their workforce thrive, because your people have the potential to be your greatest asset and most valuable competitive edge. This is really just the beginning, thoughtheres so much more to come, and we care deeply about transforming this space.
The team has onboarded a diversified selection of customers from tech, hospitality, e-commerce, media & advertising, recruitment, pharmaceuticals, consulting and other industries across the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, Saudi, South Africa, UK and US markets into its private beta program.
One of Alfiis first customers is Samer Hamadeh, founder of one of Dubais favorite restaurants, Akiba Dori. I cant wait for the product to hit the market and shake things up! As a business owner, Im all too familiar with the burden of administrative work that comes with hiring and managing a team. Ive yet to find a comprehensive solution that can handle those processes without creating more cost and complexitybut Alfii is finally cracking it, Hamadeh said. Even the early version of the product is excellentits simple and clean to use but still robust in terms of functionality. Im excited to put it to good use while scaling my own business.
The first release of the product, which is currently in invite-only private beta, is designed to simplify core HR processes, like recruiting, onboarding, document collection and management, and payroll. In the same way that CRM systems bring customer data into one place to form a 360° view of their customers, Alfii will also provide a single source of truth for employee data.
Further down the line, the team will tackle the rest of the employee lifecycle, infusing a human touch across every aspect of the user journey. Ultimately, companies that dont require (or have resources for) enterprise-grade tools can access a full suite of equally robust tools and insights to streamline all their people operations.
Our first and most important focus is on making a great product that people actually like using, Yousef said. We aim to be a trailblazer in creating solutions for these segments to handle human resources and deliver even better people experiences than their larger counterparts.
Recognizing that functionality alone is not sufficient, Alfii promises a comprehensive feature set packaged in a seamless, consumer-focused user experience. Likewise, HR owners need a tool
they can start using instantly, that also provides a self-service experience for employees. A new customer can sign up and start using the Alfii platform in only a few minutes.
Were not building this for businesses. Were building this for people doing businesswhich means everything we do should be humanized. In the same way that our favorite apps are easy to use and highly engaging, were making the user experience our priority, expressed Yousef.
The needs for digitization and automation in this space are nothing new: HR services is a nearly $400 billion global industry, and its projected to continue growing. However, this space is highly fragmentedto the point that a single business may use up to 40 different tools to manage the full talent life cycle of their workforce. Most of these tools are not integrated, prohibitively expensive to acquire, can be very hard to implement and manage, and offer inconsistent user experiences. Yet no matter the economic climate, these tools are essential for businesses to run their HR operations efficiently.
The MENA region, in particular, has been largely underserved by the industry. So while Alfii plans to effectively serve a global customer base, its first focus will be the Middle East. Theres still a large addressable market right here in our backyard that has been neglected for a long time, said Yousef. And while weve seen some major success stories from similar players in other regionssome of which have scaled into unicornstheres still a lot of work to be done in this space to support businesses with modern workforces.
In summary, HR is only getting harder in this new world of work, which means theres a need for better, stronger tools that are also super simple to use. And thats exactly what Alfii is here to do.
Alfiis mission is to be the employee experience platform that helps companies thrive by taking care of their people. By automating and simplifying HR and people operations, Alfii is giving startups, SMEs and fast-growing companies the tools and insights they need to create and deliver a better, people-first experience for their teams. The product, which is currently in private, invite-only beta, focuses on core HR processes with a refreshingly easy way to onboard and pay employees, designed with a simple and highly intuitive interface to make it a great user experience for both employers and employees. A Dubai-based startup, Alfii was founded in 2022 by Yousef Albarqawi, Becky Jefferies and Dina Mohammad-Laity. Learn more at https://www.alfii.co/.
Yousef Albarqawi: Co-founder & CEO
Yousef is a serial entrepreneur and operator with a diverse background across tech, hospitality, and finance. He began his career in finance and private wealth management at prominent multi-family offices, followed by a series of startups that he founded and exited before transitioning into tech, where his experience ranged from early-stage ventures to global multi-nationals such as Deliveroo. During this time, he also played a key role in setting the precedent for the cloud kitchens business category in the MENA region. Throughout his career as an operations leader, Yousef has built businesses and teams from scratch up to 500 people and managed P&Ls in excess of US$100 million. Yousef holds a BA from the American University of Beirut, and he later continued his graduate studies at Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
Becky Jefferies: Co-founder & CMO
Becky is a Dubai-based brand-builder, storyteller and 360° marketer with 15 years of branding and global marketing experience in organizations ranging from pre-seed startups to Fortune 500 multi-nationals. She has launched products and services in over 30 countries across tech, beauty, wellness, automotive, consumer durables and financial industries. Her pivot into tech began with Uber, where she led a MENA-wide marketing team and launched campaigns that earned four MENA Effie awards. After that, she stood up the marketing function at Silicon Valley-based fintech Tribal Credit; and followed as Marketing Director at a Dubai-based fund and incubator, where she built and launched 2 e-commerce brandsone of which was named Most Promising Brand of the Year 2021 by Entrepreneur. Most recently, she worked as a freelance brand strategy consultant before joining Alfii.
Her early career background included international marketing, brand management, product marketing and channel marketing roles at corporations based in the U.S., where she was born and raised. She holds an MBA with honors from IE Business School in Spain and a Marketing degree from James Madison University in the U.S.
Dina Mohammad-Laity: Co-founder & CTO
Dina is an award-winning leader in the tech and data space known for her expertise in de-hyping all parts of the data lifecycle and building great data products on solid, maintainable foundations. Shes been described as a pragmatic disruptora badge she has worn proudly throughout her diverse tech career in industries ranging from real estate to publishing to online dating. She has held positions in data platform engineering, product analytics, data-driven growth, and data product management for companies that include Talabat (Delivery Hero MENA), Property Finder, Feeld, Astrolabs, Zoopla Property Group, and more. Dina has a BSc in Economics from SOAS University of London and an MSc in Applied Statistics from Birkbeck College at the University of London.