Kigali, 9th August, 2014: It sounds overrated, but for many in Rwanda, ordering a fish smokie and a Pop Cola online, might seem to be a service only found in the West. Hellofood, a German online food delivery marketplace, now allows users to order food from over 50 local restaurants around Kigali City, Rwanda’s Capital, through the website or an app.
“Our first meal was delivered last October ”, says 28-year-old Duncan Muchangi, country manager for Hellofood. Fulgence Muhawenimana is a white-collar professional in Kigali city. With simple clicks on his computer, his favorite delicacy is delivered in minutes.
“It is a good service. It saves time,” says Muhawenimana, who started using the online food service last month.
Hellofood has a chain of cyclists in different zones around the city. “I can deliver food to five or six people a day”, says Emmanuel Twagirimana, 25, one of the motorcyclists.
Paul Ntaganda, the General Manager of Bourbon Coffee, Rwanda’s luxurious coffee shop, is happy his customers do not have to wail for his delicious offers anymore. “Anyone who loves a Tramezzin from Bourbon Coffee restaurant can get it without coming to the restaurant,” he says.
Users visit hellofood.com, enter their location, then select from a list of restaurants that pop up and finally select their favorite dish; be it, a roast beef sandwich with caramelized onion, a chicken sandwich, pan-fried fish with vegetables, a pizza or a local dish such as Ubugali, Sombe, and Matooke
It takes less than 30 minutes to deliver. The service has since received mixed reactions. Some like it, others don’t. 40-year-old Fidel is a banker. “I cannot use it,” he says” “Even if the food is properly packaged, there is always a sense of suspicion.” “We deliver thousands of meals a week”, says Hellofood’s Muchangi. “We have learnt a lot, and we are very happy and comfortable with our service today”, he says.
For Hellofood, Rwanda is a unique market, with a widening middle class. Mobile phone penetration is now at 63% and internet access has grown from 7.9% to 22%. Of course it offers employment too. “I used to earn about $220 per month, but I now earn more than I used to”, says Twagirimana.
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By Didier Bikorimana