Zimbabwe’s adoption of eCommerce or lack thereof is one of our favourite topics here at Startupbiz. We have continually noticed that eCommerce in Zimbabwe has been let down by the weaknesses in support services namely payments, internet and not least amongst them logistics. Koki delivery is a business that aims to solve some of these challenges and particularly the logistics one. The business is built on the type of thinking that we believe we need to see more of in the nation. I had a chat with Herbert Marembo, CEO of Loyal Squire and Koki Delivery.
The business name is officially Loyal Squire. Koki delivery is the face of their logistics business which is what brought them to our attention. The business that started operating 3 months ago offers a bouquet of services that are targeted at eCommerce including Fulfillment, courier services, eCommerce store, Import & export services and online advertising. It sounds like a lot but let’s delve into each one to understand how they work.
Koki offers a fulfilment service similar to Amazon. They allow eCommerce retailers in Zimbabwe and abroad to send their products to inventory and advertise through their eCommerce store. Koki then handles the transaction with the customer and the delivery. They process payments and logistics on behalf of the retailer.
Courier – small packages
They also provide an interesting courier service which works in a simplified that we quite admire. Koki will deliver your package (currently Harare only) for a small fee of US$3.
As already mention Koki provides storefronts for retailers to sell their products through.
Import Export + clearing
The wider company Loyal Squire also offers import and export services. This is a powerful offering when combined with their fulfilment service and eCommerce store service. People from anywhere in the world can engage them to handle their import or export needs. Ideally, a person in the diaspora can run a business completely through Koki and Loyal Squire.
They also offer a service that provides Zimbabwean businesses or users of their eCommerce services advertising opportunities through Facebook and Instagram advertising. These are the sort of adverts you see before videos and in your stories.
The business is youth created and youth-oriented with a majority of the management being youth. Real youth under 30. This makes sense given the ultimate focus we see in youth-owned businesses and solutions that cater to the needs of younger generations, millennials and gen-Z. Business has increasingly become of interest to the youth as formal employment tightens up in the nation. The management team consists of two other young people Shamiso Fungura and Rukudzo I. Marembo.
The owners were able to draw on their network and friends and family to fund the business thus far. Working with angel investors has been both a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they did not have to look far for their capital needs. A curse because those closest to you are the ones who are hardest on you. They had to go through a lot to convince those who provided funding.
Learning and growing
The journey thus far for Koki delivery team has been characterised by learning and growing. The entire business of Loyal Squire started with the courier service being offered to those with packages to deliver. The service was unsurprisingly a hit and everything else has been built around it. The business wants to learn and as such have not increased pricing after finding success. The goal is to learn as much as possible while perfecting the systems and processes. The goal is to branch out from Harare to other cities and towns in Zimbabwe to provide a strong logistics network.
There have been challenges
No business, especially not one that operates in Zimbabwe is without its challenges. One of the biggest obstacles the team has faced is the lack of internet neutrality in Zimbabwe with the advent of social media-focused bundles scuppering the idea of launching with an app. The team had to take a step back and start by operating on WhatsApp where people are readily found. The terrain for eCommerce is nowhere near perfect in Zimbabwe and the challenges will vary in degree and extent. However, the learning organisation approach has allowed Loyal Squire to learn and accept the situation and find solutions.
Growth and expansion
The ultimate plan is to grow the business across the nation as mentioned before. The business is dominated by youth and this perhaps informs their youth focus. According to Marembo, the target is to cover universities in the nation. Zimbabwean youth have adapted to the situation and are involved in the hustle economy selling what they can, particularly online. Offering the courier solution to this customer base is the target. It is a smart play to use as a backbone for national expansion. This also works perfectly with their goal to create a national courier network. In that light, they are looking for delivery drivers. You can contact them on the details in the image below or at the end of the article.
Businesses should focus more on sustainability says, Herbert. Profitability is the goal for all businesses, but being profitable for a long time keeps the doors open. The ability to keep customers motivated to part with money for your product is sustainability. It’s best not to rush but rather focus on making the right decisions and this involves a lot of due diligence in your research. Check every detail. And most importantly all this should be in the aid of you starting your business. If you spend too much time making the decision and checking details without starting the net result is still nought.