Egyptian start-up offers full funeral and burial services

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Egyptian start-up offers full funeral and burial services

CAIRO - An Egyptian start-up is looking to shake up the undertaking sector by offering a full package of funeral and burial services to clients it finds in hospitals.

Sokna - Arabic to die or rest - says it gives the usual space to mourn free from the bereaved logistics and bureaucracy. This can be stressful in Egypt, partly due to the Muslim custom of burying people at death quick.

Sokna obtains nearly 90% of its clients through arrangements with 15 hospitals and circumvents established networks for services to the newly injured.

One of the companies agents, Mariam Mohamed 23, waited for one recent afternoon at a table in a hospital lobby in Dokki near central Cairo, ready to offer potential customers a menu of burial packages.

Bundles range from 4,500 to 9,000 Egyptian pounds plus add-on services that reach up to 5,000 pounds. At funerals, uniformed staff are present to provide chairs, umbrellas and napkins.

As a team and as people, we really believe that death doesn't discriminate between rich and poor, said Ahmed Gaballah, who also worked at Facebook and Google before founding Sokna in 2019.

Traditional Egyptian undertakers like Sokna provide coffins, a car and driver, but with less of the sleek presentation favoured by Mohamed Mahmoud.

White shrouds, bottles of traditional water and lacquered coffins line the walls of his white parlour in Cairo's Shobra district where Mahmoud was born and raised.

For him, Sokna's deals with hospitals can be a source of frustration, and he says that he's been squeezed out of hospitals where he used to find business.

I would take 1,000, 1,200 pounds, Mahmoud said. And then this company comes up to tell you 6,000, 7,000 pounds. How do you feel about this?

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