Mzansi’s online grocery shopping was virtually non-existent before lockdown, but the covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst for South African e-commerce, specifically focusing on food shopping. But why should you care? Because when one industry moves forward, we all do. Including future tech into our sectors can boost South Africa’s food security and create more jobs. Have you ever bought something using Facebook Marketplace, or over Instagram DMs? Then advancing retail tech has impacted you too. 

It’s not only been formal retail that has seen an increase Formal retail hasn’t been the only industry that’s seen advancements in formal retail trade. The informal sector, which plays a critical role in securing access to food for millions of South Africans, has also had a boost. The pressure on food distribution systems that support vulnerable communities has given rise to wonderful new tech initiatives that play a role in food security, like Yebo Fresh and the Yethu App. 

Innovative South Africans hustling during lockdown 

Yebo Fresh – With many people struggling to get food, especially with the lockdown restrictions preventing them from travelling, there was a massive need for food to be delivered to them. Enter Yebo Fresh. Yebo Fresh is a tech-driven, food delivery company catering exclusively to Cape Town townships which has expanded rapidly under lockdown. They started in a Hout Bay garage two years ago and now occupy a massive warehouse and deliver thousands of grocery items and hampers to nine Western Cape townships.   

Yethu – Instead of sitting in a packed taxi and travelling far to buy groceries, the Yethu app is flipping the script. Yethu, meaning ‘ours’ is an inclusive new servicing app designed to add dignity and quality of life to township and rural households. With Yethu, you can order groceries and have them delivered to your door, even if your area isn’t normally serviced by traditional delivery services. For the cost of a return taxi trip, anyone can order their grocery shopping to be delivered to their door, saving time and effort.  

There is no wealth without health, and technological advancements can help reliably deliver healthy food to South Africa, saving costs and delivering at speed by building effective networks. Covid-19 disrupted established food supply chains and made people re-evaluate where they get their food from, thereby opening up huge opportunities for tech to connect people directly to producers with environmental and local economic benefits.