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Last-Mile Delivery Apps Grow African Economies One Goat at a Time

ASCM CEO

Friday December 14, 2018


As last-mile delivery companies like Uber Eats expand their reach around the globe, it seems like you can order just about anything right to your doorstep. In Africa, one last-mile delivery company has expanded its operations to deliver more than just prepared food. Tupuca also will deliver coal, petrol, fruit and vegetables, and even livestock to consumers living in Luanda, Angola, The Economist reports.

In October, the delivery app started offering consumers the option to buy live chickens, pigs and goats for home delivery. The livestock ranges in price from $5 for a medium chicken to $124 for a large pig. To fulfill this innovative delivery opportunity, Tupuca teamed up with Roque Online, a startup that employs an army of runners who visit markets to track down the best produce and livestock. A buyer will find and purchase the chicken, goat or pig and then take it to a Tupuca driver, who makes the delivery.

Business for Tupuca and its competitors is taking off in Africa. The continent is home to 21 of the 30 fastest-growing urban areas in the world. These cities boast expanding middle classes full of people with disposable income and smartphones to use for online ordering. In addition, traffic in these growing communities can be horrendous, which makes it difficult for consumers to drive to restaurants, stores and markets. Tupuca delivery drivers use scooters to squeeze through traffic and quickly deliver goods. 

For now, delivering prepared foods still accounts for most of Tupuca’s revenue. Its 140 drivers make 17,000 deliveries a month to consumers who spend an average of $40 per order.

Tupuca CEO Erickson Mvezi says the new livestock-delivery feature is “breaking down barriers between informal and formal markets,” The Economist reports. Although Luanda is home to a rich elite, a growing middle class and expats, millions of its residents are poor and living in slums. In more than a third of households, at least one person in the family earns a living through informal vending. Tupuca and Roque Online’s service connects these sellers to more customers.

In addition to connecting markets, last-mile delivery creates more jobs. In sub-Saharan Africa, the gig economy is equivalent to at least one third of a country’s gross domestic product. The service creates jobs for delivery drivers as well as at the restaurants, stores and markets from which these last-mile delivery companies source. This can boost a national economy one goat, pig or chicken at a time.

Making an impact

It’s amazing how supply chain can be a force for good. In Tupuca’s case, the supply chain is delivering value to consumers while also creating economic opportunities for citizens. Together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, we at ASCM are seeking to improve the health and wellbeing of populations in Africa.

Through the generosity of this global alliance partner, ASCM will introduce globally recognized and locally adapted methods that will improve last-mile availability in public health supply chains. The goal is to improve lives in underserved markets, especially in Senegal, Kenya and Nigeria. Planned efforts include increasing educational and economic opportunities for women; encouraging healthier families and communities; solving critical public health supply chain challenges, including weak distribution systems and a lack of reliable monitoring and data-collection mechanisms; and developing and implementing country-specific plans to elevate the maturity of local supply chain communities that directly impact supply chain reliability. 

To learn more about ASCM’s plans for this grant, visit ascm.org/making-an-impact/gates-foundation.




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