Yebo Fresh township food delivery service is booming
The demand for Yebo Fresh’s service is so great that they are looking to expand nationally.
The organisation delivered its first food packs in 2018, after founder, Jessica Boonstra, brought her learnings from the online retail space in the Netherlands to South Africa.
But instead of taking on the food delivery companies that service South Africa’s wealthy suburbs, Boonstra found a new opportunity in the Western Cape’s townships – one of the biggest, and ironically most underserved, markets.
“I felt that the areas in South Africa which would benefit the most from an online shopping transformation would be townships, which are still largely underserved by big retailers. People living in townships often lose hours of their day, most relying on overcrowded public transport to go to a supermarket,” says Boonstra.
Buying groceries and then transporting them on public transport into a township is a complex and often costly process for residents. And so in 2018 Boonstra developed Yebo Fresh – a system that allowed households to order goods online, via Whatsapp, or over the phone with a call-back feature, and have them delivered to their doors.
Yebo Fresh sells meat, fish, poultry, fresh fruit and vegetables, general groceries and hampers at competitive prices – and they deliver direct to doors in Gugulethu, Delft, Mfuleni, Khayelitsha, Langa, Hangberg, Imizamo Yethu, and Mitchells Plain.
NOT PLAIN SAILING
It’s not a service without its challenges. Boonstra points out that many houses in townships do not have formal addresses, and so drivers must use mobile and GPS technology, and hyper-local knowledge to navigate the streets.
“There is no way that a business such as ours could exist without mobile technology, smart backend systems, extensive data analysis and a constant drive to optimise our performance,” she says.
“Our drivers will stay in close contact with head office via GPS tracker and via mobile phone with the customer, who is often able to provide detailed instructions such as ‘turn right at the green container, then I will meet you opposite the hair salon.”
Where possible the delivery teams come from the communities they serve, and so are familiar with the local landmarks, can speak in the customers’ mother tongues, and have a strong community footing so they are comfortable operating on landmark-specific instructions.
Boonstra says there are a lot of misconceptions that businesses have about operating in South Africa’s township space – and as a result many have failed to capitalise on the opportunities that this market presents.
“The townships represent at least 40% of the national grocery market, with great entrepreneurship and beautifully creative solutions, such as conducting a wide range of activities via Whatsapp,” she says. “We see massive potential in some of South Africa’s underserved areas. We believe in providing people with good access to good food, and your location shouldn’t have an impact on that.”
Although Yebo Fresh stands alone as a grocery delivery business – they’ve received sizeable investments from E4EAfrica, WooThemes co-founder Mark Forrester, and more recently Scheinberg Relief Fund, among others – the company is driven by “a very strong purpose”.
The organisation works closely with many non-governmental organisations to provide “efficient, localised, transparent and well-administrated sourcing, packing and delivery” of food within their target market….
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