YeboFresh1

Pandemic boosts Yebo Fresh online shopping revolution in townships

 

South African e-commerce is a Covid-fired market of risk and reward

"Coming from the Netherlands, I was able to see the growth of online retail there, and how drastically it changed people's lives for the better, be it for safety or convenience," says Boonstra.

"It was very interesting for me to see how online shopping has evolved here, and how much growth could take place in the township market. The township market is often overlooked but deserves to be taken seriously in terms of business opportunities in innovation."

Lockdown growth

The business has grown tremendously over the lockdown period. This meant moving into a new bigger warehouse, hiring over 40 new staff members, building new systems and introducing new processes - all of that while respecting Covid-19 related health and safety measures.

"Yebo Fresh became more than a company and turned into a mission: getting quality food out as fast and efficiently as possible in order to feed hungry families while maintaining our business principles," says Boonstra. One of the practical challenges faced was the way in which to deliver groceries in environments where there are often no street names or numbers on houses. Through employing local staff with local knowledge and mobile technology to coordinate with our customers and drivers, this challenge was overcome.

Entrepreneurship

"I personally believe the best reason to start a company, even more so than having a great idea or a strong drive to be successful, is for a founder or team of founders to be driven by a strong purpose or belief," says Boonstra.

"If there is a problem or opportunity that keeps you awake and spending tremendous time on, [and] it gives you energy, you've got something potentially powerful."

At the same time, she emphasises that "entrepreneuring" is tough and exhausting at times.

"But in our case, everyone in the team, including our investors, all share the same underlying drive to provide good access to good food, create jobs and make a positive impact in township communities. That is what keeps us going," says Boonstra.

"Before lockdown, we were receiving a couple of hundred orders a month. Now, we process thousands of orders every single day."

Future vision

She hopes to expand the business nationally and possibly even internationally in future.

"Currently, we are adapting to the fast growth that has taken place, especially in the last few months. We are grateful for the powerful networks and partnerships we have built allowing us to provide not only to private homes but also to more and more township businesses such as daycare centres, street vendors and township restaurants and to the NGOs and soup kitchens that rely on us to deliver fresh food to them every week," she says.

"We are keen to engage with any other organisations in townships buying or consuming vast quantities of food on a weekly or monthly basis. We'd like to learn more about how they operate, what they need and to see if we can lower their expenses and save them from lots of headaches by partnering with them."

This article was first published by TheAfricaNews.net on the 17 August 2020. 

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