Cross-border delivery of goods spark idea for app

Some of the grocery items that can be purchased through the app.
Some of the grocery items that can be purchased through the app.
Image: Supplied

On any given Sunday at a filling station in Parktown, Johannesburg, there is a line of Quantum minibus taxis with huge trailers.

The trailers become like towering giants as cargo is loaded on them until covered under green or grey tarpaulin. The goods range from groceries, furniture to electrical appliances and bicycles.

These transporters are called "malaicha", and goods are heading to families in Zimbabwe. Malaicha, is a slang term from Ndebele-speaking community of Zimbabwe, meaning "deliverer of goods".

This informal cross-border enterprise sparked a business idea for Sayjil Magan, managing director of Hello Paisa, a company that created the Malaicha app, which allows Zimbabwean nationals to buy groceries in SA and have them delivered in their home country.

Magan was at a bus terminus in Harare, Zimbabwe, and queried why the buses were transporting boxes of groceries.

"The replies were these are groceries from South Africa, and that it was simply too expensive for their loved ones to shop in Zimbabwe and sometimes the products were not always available," he said.

"That was the true inspiration; we saw the struggle of the person who had to collect these goods and sometimes the parcels would not arrive, at times the goods would be broken and damaged [after] a long journey and that's when we realised there is a major problem here that needs solving."

The app was developed five months ago to make the lives of Zimbabwean nationals living and working in SA easier with getting goods home.

"We allow the recipient to collect or we deliver to their homes."

Recipients can collect their groceries in Harare, Bulawayo, Masvingo and Mutare, as the company has stores in each of these cities.

Malaicha app helps Zimbabweans send groceries home.
Malaicha app helps Zimbabweans send groceries home.
Image: Supplied

"We will open our Gweru store very soon."

The company imports the goods from SA to Zimbabwe itself. The app currently caters for Zimbabwean nationals only but they plan to expand to Malawi and Mozambique.

"I had to make sure of two things: that the groceries reach Zimbabwe, and two, oh well three things, two, that it crosses the border legally and we pay all applicable import duties and the third thing is I needed to make sure that this was a cost-effective product.

"On our app, the price of our groceries is cheaper than you can buy in SA. The delivery cost ranges between 15% and 30% of the item. So if you choose groceries for R1,000 you will pay between a R150 to R300 as a delivery cost."

Magan says the reason for the range is certain products are more expensive to import to the country.

Asked if he might be taking business away from the original malaichas, Magan said: "There are three million Zimbabweans living in South Africa. I will never serve and get to every single one of them, that's for sure. So, there will always be business for the traditional malaicha.

"But on the other hand, the traditional malaichas was breaking the law by taking t.hese goods across into Zim most of the time without paying the proper import duties. So, it's sort of a double-edged sword where on the one side we're doing real good for people living in Zimbabwe and on the other side we are also preventing the illegal importation of goods into Zim."

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