Dubai-based tech startup Alfii has just launched its new SaaS platform for end-to-end HR workflow automation to the region’s underserved startups and SMEs. Designed to be simple and intuitive for both employers and employees to use, the platform boasts a powerful back-end that gives HR leaders the tools and insights they need to take better care of their people.
Yousef Albarqawi, Becky Jefferies, and Dina Mohammad-Laity started the business with the goal of relieving HR teams of complex and time-consuming administrative tasks so that businesses may better care for their employees.
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 organizations – like startups and SMEs – where 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 “But most of them are still relying on outdated, non-digitized or highly fragmented systems to manage people ops.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.”
To free up time for them to concentrate on more important workforce difficulties encountered by startups and SMEs today, HR owners are becoming more and more dependent on more robust and sophisticated technologies like Alfii.
Alfii’s co-founders, Yousef, Dina, and Becky, are no strangers to these challenges. Despite having spent their careers – which together comprise a long list of tech heavyweights like Uber, Deliveroo, Property Finder and Talabat – in 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 system – even though staffing costs are the single biggest cost item for most companies – which 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 aren’t built to accommodate the future of work. Because of this, startups and SMEs are left with very few suitable tools for their size.
What’s more, 36% of companies with 11 to 50 people don’t have an HR function at all, and this number goes up to 68% for those with less than 10 people – which 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,
“we’re 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, though – there’s 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 Alfii’s first customers is Samer Hamadeh, founder of one of Dubai’s favourite restaurants, Akiba Dori, who shared,
“I can’t wait for the product to hit the market and shake things up! As a business owner, I’m all too familiar with the burden of administrative work that comes with hiring and managing a team. I’ve yet to find a comprehensive solution that can handle those processes without creating more cost and complexity – but Alfii is finally cracking it,” Hamadeh said. “Even the early version of the product is excellent – it’s simple and clean to use but still robust in terms of functionality. I’m 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 don’t 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.
“We’re not building this for businesses. We’re building this for people doing business – which means everything we do should be humanized. In the same way that our favourite apps are easy to use and highly engaging, we’re 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 it’s projected to continue growing. However, this space is highly fragmented – to 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.
“There’s still a large addressable market right here in our backyard that has been neglected for a long time,” said Yousef. “And while we’ve seen some major success stories from similar players in other regions – some of which have scaled into unicorns – there’s 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 there’s a need for better, stronger tools that are also super simple to use. And that’s exactly what Alfii is here to do.