SA food delivery startup partners with charities to deliver food parcels to townships
DURBAN - Yebo Fresh is a South African startup that is delivering groceries to township residents during the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure that they have access to food supplies.
The Cape Town based startup was originally launched in September 2018 in the Hout Bay township of Imizamo Yethu. Since then, the startup has expanded to other Western Cape townships including Hangberg, Langa, Gugulethu, Khayelitsha, Mfuleni and Delft.
The concept was born out of a desire to improve quality of life for township residents by bringing e-commerce to their doors through the most powerful tool the majority of them had: their cell phones.
Jessica Boonstra. the founder of Yebo Fresh said, "Our goal was to provide access to healthier, quality food options in an affordable way for township residents. We wanted an innovative technology solution that would support communities where delivery is not a nice-to-have but a necessity in the absence of sufficient food retailing options".
Now, charities are partnering with Yebo Fresh to enable food parcels to be delivered to townships, fulfilling a vital service during Covid-19.
"We have been able to expand our grocery ordering model to deliver food parcels directly to people who are isolated within their homes and with very limited access under the lockdown to any other form of retail," said Boonstra.
Covid-19 has seen Yebo Fresh expand even further, into a newer, larger warehouse space, and its operation continues to create a number of new jobs and partnership opportunities. The startup is currently packing around 1000 food parcels, amounting to 110 000 meals, daily.
Customers place their orders either via the website, a WhatsApp order bot or a WhatsApp call service but, because not all its customers have access to smartphones or know how to order online, the company also makes use of paper forms, which are then digitised by local agents.
Yebo Fresh sources directly from manufacturers and groups orders into packing- and delivery batches. In the meanwhile, Yebo Fresh customers are kept up to date about their order via SMS, informing them when an order has been packed and when delivery is expected.
"We then coordinate deliveries to easily-accessible, centralised locations as well as dircet delivery to a recipient’s home," said Boonstra.
The network of local drivers and agents is vital to knowing how to navigate township streets and ensuring that that delivery reaches the correct address, particularly in more informal areas.
It’s the startup’s mission to continue to push the boundaries on all fronts and expand its operations even further, on the ground operationally as well as in continuing to develop its technology.
"Highly unusual times call for measures above and beyond. We need a consolidated effort to ensure that one of the most basic human rights – access to food – continues to be rolled out to all," concluded Boonstra.
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