One of the most important human basic need is food. In order to get food, one needs to go the market so as to purchase groceries according to their needs and budget. Here is the fun part, you no longer need to go physically to the market, GengeXpress is an online grocery store that allows people to go and buy their daily groceries from fruits to species to vegetables with a guarantee of three things affordability, quality and speed.
GengeXpress was established in March 2020 co-founded by, Jacob Balyagati and Mzelu Malongo, their offices are located in Masaki, Dar es Salaam. Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) had an opportune interview with Jacob Balyagati on the journey of GengeXpress. Mr. Jacob unfolds the story and inspiration behind GengeXpress; he highlights what it does and the impact it’s making in Dar es Salaam. GengeXpress purpose is solving the challenge of Inconvenience through innovation by applying technological application.
GengeXpress has banked on “Convenience”. With less than a year in the Industry GengeXpress’ has provided benefits to its customers shaping their shopping behavior for the better. Jacob explains that, firstly, it reduces impulse purchases when shopping online, since you can precisely select what you need and avoid unnecessary spending.
Secondly GengeXpress helps you stay organized, when one orders groceries he or she can save the list for future use since one already knows what he or she needs monthly or weekly and therefore avoids forgetting something when shopping.
Thirdly, it saves time GengeXpress helps you get all your groceries in a short period of time and frees you time to do other productive activities. It is convenient as you can shop online any time of the day and get it delivered at your door step instead of going physically to the market in search for a specific market product.
Jacob says “We found out one of the reasons why people go to the market is not because they really like it, but it’s because they want to be assured of that what they are purchasing is actually the right product with a good quality, so we are trying to make sure that is extended digitally without the need of that person physically going to a particular market.”
Reminiscing on the drive behind GengeXpress, Mr. Jacob says, “I remember being on the receiving end of such services back in the day before establishing GengeXpress, the process of accessing these groceries was frustrating because there were delays and lack trust between myself and the bodaboda who was sent to purchase these goods. I saw an opportunity in my shopping frustrations and Mr. Mzelu Malongo and I brainstormed of how we could formalize the shopping process so that it can benefit a large group of people by using a digital platform that is robust, effective and efficient. So that’s how GengeXpress came into being.
GengeXpress services cuts across all demographics, they have steered away from targeting a particular group. Their services focuses on each and every individual who goes to the market to purchase groceries compared to other initiatives similar to theirs that mostly targets women, they believe through their services people can easily access their groceries affordably, fast and with quality.
How GengeXpress works
What is unique about GengeXpress is that it offers a wide range of products from fruits, spices, food grains, vegetables, poultry and sea food. The customer needs to register on the website of GengeXpress, choose the language they prefer to use whether it is Kiswahili or English then select the items they want. The website also has options for new customers to look at the way the prices vary from different vendors, one can look at the top selling products and the most liked products before she or he makes the purchase. For those using a featured phone they can dial +255 743 107 661 to make an order.
Mr. Jacob says,” So a person places an order through GengeXpress once the order is placed, at the back end there is a team of people who receive the orders and go to the market and select what has been ordered, then we call the customer to confirm the goods that he or she ordered, we conduct due diligence of quality control and assurance making sure all purchased products are fresh of good quality then we clean and re-pack the products. It is only after this process that the orders are submitted to the delivery guy and track him from the point he leaves to the point when the goods are delivered to the customer.”
GengeXpress markets its products to reach new customers through fliers that are distributed at different places, social media, word of mouth, friends and a sales team that goes around different parts of the Dar Es Salaam city to market.
Their achievement so far
Despite the fact that GengeXpress is only available in Dar es salaam, they have managed to cross borders to other regions given the nature of how they provide their services, Jacob recalls one customer from Lindi who called to buy a cauliflower so after receiving the order, packing and shipping it to Lindi they were shocked and delighted that people outside Dar es Salaam have heard of what they do.
Jacob says, “The other notable success was how fast our platform got accepted by our customers without us putting much effort that itself inspired myself and my team to keep pushing forward.”
And in regards to the times of COVID-19, he says “While our country had been declared Corona-free, during the pandemic people were more reluctant to go to crowded places and you find most of these markets where the goods are sold are usually very crowded, the people found GengeXpress as one of the places they can run to fulfill their daily grocery needs. I look forward to perfecting these experiences so that even post-Covid people still find the platform convenient to use rather than going physically to the market.”
What to Improve Then and Now
GengeXpress regrets jumping right into developing the platform at the very beginning which took longer than necessary.No thorough research was conducted to know what they were getting themselves into from the establishment of collection centers to developing the right digital platform to designing their logo.
Jacob continues further and mentions the areas they currently desire to improve in their platform, “We want to widen our partnership portfolio to cater for different services for I believe the more partners we have within the platform the more product range we can offer and the more customers we can secure.”
Next step in Innovation
Jacob says he’s very optimistic of the future and where he sees GengeXpress in the next five years, “We believe regardless of the surge of similar initiatives in the market, the demand for such services is still high, we look forward to offering all kinds of consumable to our customers, from pens, to bags, to utensils, to groceries but in order to reach there we need to start somewhere and that is why we began with groceries.”
“Dear youth be optimistic, be patient and should you have a dream do not sleep on it, work on it and never give up, it is not easy and if it was easy anybody would have done it.” Jacob adds
GengeXpress is positioning itself in the tech ecosystem as a one stop digital shopping center, giving job opportunities to youth from the sellers of the market products in the market, to the team of sales at GengeXpress and to the people delivering these products to the customers.
Further details of GengeXpress can be found through a video interview on Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) YouTube channel https://youtu.be/54B29WrD0DI and the online conversation about GengeXpress across all Tech & Media Convergency (TMC) social media platforms using the hashtag #ImpactTechTZ
To read more about our reports featuring Startups in Tanzania https://bit.ly/ImpactTechTZ2021-Report