Lauren Russell Nkuranga, the founder of GET IT, a commercial food distribution service company based in Rwanda, says that investors still have appetite for the country despite Covid-19 pandemic.
Nkuranga’s startup completed its Series A funding – the first significant round of venture capital financing – last month from Chicago-based impact investor VestedWorld.
Earlier this year, Chandaria Capital, the professional early-stage investment arm of the Chandaria Group of companies based in Kenya also announced an investment in GET IT.
“This is an indication that investors are still interested in Rwanda despite Covid-19,”she said in an interview with Business Times.
While the conversation with investors began before the pandemic, the founder says the fact that investors could not put their investment on hold is a testament of the opportunities in Rwanda, and a long term outlook for growth in East Africa.
“What they [investors] are seeing is that it is [Rwanda] a country where you can look to the future, and it delivers on its promises,” Nkuranga who started the startup in 2014 says.
“While many investors see Rwanda as a small market, many see that you can do a lot of stuff that you can’t do elsewhere,” she adds.
GET IT sources and delivers a variety of fresh, frozen and dry goods – including fruit and vegetables, meat, and dairy – along with kitchen supplies to hotels and restaurants.
It works with hospitality clients like Marriott Hotel, Singita Lodge, One & Only Nyungwe House, RwandAir, and recently started delivering to households around Kigali.
Nkuranga started GET IT in 2014, a few years after she had moved to Rwanda working for Nike Foundation where she was managing the foundation’s global communications.
She started with $5,000 of her personal savings, but has subsequently raised $1.5 million in equity funding. GET IT is now one of the fastest-growing startups in the country with 50 clients.
The business revenue for GET IT has been growing at 20 per cent to 50 per cent month-over-month, according to its founder.
The company recently diversified its business model to distribution of ginger to the region, a move Nkuranga asserts is one of the attractive features to investors like those investing in the startup.
“We are now looking to grow at over 100 hectares of land (under our management) in the next year, and to 300 hectares in the next 18 months,” she said.
The next 24 months, she added, they look to expand to up to 500 hectares.
That is because Nkuranga says that getting quality products is a challenge, so they resorted to working with a network of farmers to start growing their own products.
Businesses that operate a model suchas the one operated by GET IT are booming in the country as clients prefer the comfort of getting goods in one place.
It’s pretty much a different e-commerce model for foodstuff that links clients to suppliers and farmers.
Domestic startups like Park & Pick, Shypt (formerly DMM Hehe), and Store2door, among others.
What they do is simple; buy fresh grocery from local producers, clean, package and timely deliver them to subscribing customers. Most of them don’t own an online store.
GET IT, for instance, uses off-grid cold-storage facilities to prevent spoilage of food from its own farm and other suppliers during transit.
Other firms like ‘Park and Pick’ share a products’ list on their social media accounts and get people to place their orders through these platforms. Like store2door, they also rely on customers’ recommendations.
“This is because it is hard to maintain those platforms and equally expensive to integrate payment gateways,” Segond Fidens Iragena, the owner of Park & Pick told this publication in the past interview.
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