This article was first published on AllAfrica. Read the original post here.
Shopping for food in Nigeria’s largest cities can be a challenge. After battling the notorious traffic of Lagos or Abuja to reach open-air markets, many shoppers are frustrated to find that the foods on offer are very expensive and that prices are rising all the time.
The Nigerian tech startup Pricepally offers another option. It connects customers in two of Nigeria’s largest cities with farm-fresh food at lower prices, delivered to their homes within a day or two.
Through a website and mobile app, Pricepally allows people to buy quality produce and wholesale products directly from producers or local farmers. Customers also have the option to pool their resources and share bulk purchases with other users for additional savings.
The service has been a hit. Now the company is working with Prosper Africa —the U.S. Government initiative to increase trade and investment between African nations and the United States—to connect with U.S. investors and fuel additional growth.
Pricepally launched in late 2019 and quickly proved its worth. Customers recognized the service’s value and convenience, especially in the face of high inflation.
Only a few months later, when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, users also valued having a safe, affordable way to get the essentials they needed.
“People were scared to go out because of COVID-19,” says Pricepally COO Jummai Abalaka, and the company’s model met the needs of the moment. “The business was able to get the license from the government to be able to move around during COVID-19 lockdowns and restrictions,” she says.
The company rapidly expanded to operate in both Lagos and Abuja, doubled its workforce from seven to 14 employees, and grew its user base to serve more than 5,000 customers each month.
With its next round of investment, Pricepally seeks to improve its warehousing and processing facilities and hire additional tech talent so it can serve more customers.
“In the next five to ten years, we are looking to be working in many African countries,” says Pricepally Co-Founder Monsunmola Lawoyin. “We want to make fresh food available for everyone.”
A Win-Win For Farmers and Shoppers
For Nigeria’s smallholder farmers, Pricepally offers a way to get their products into the hands of customers—even in faraway cities—for a fair price. And, over time, the company hopes to help address other challenges that small farmers face.
“Farmers in Nigeria just farm to make ends meet, but going forward, we are looking at speaking to these farmers and young people to look into farming as a career,” says Lawoyin. “In the future, we hope to train farmers and give them the necessary tools needed to succeed in farming.”
In addition, because Pricepally connects shoppers directly to farmers, people who use the service can trust that the food they buy is fresh and healthy.
“For transparency, Pricepally has started putting farmer’s faces and short bios on the website. Transparency gives a level of trust to the consumers,” says Abalaka. “We make sure that what they are consuming is of good quality. We reach out to mostly farmers who grow their products organically. A lot of people are becoming aware of their health, and they are making sure they are eating organic produce and are careful of what they eat.”
Pricepally is well positioned to meet the changing needs and shopping behaviors of its customer base. By bridging the gap between farmers and consumers, it offers a smarter and safer way to shop. As it grows, it could help transform the food and agriculture sector in Nigeria and beyond. The big question is: Which investors want to come along for the ride?