Featuring Akatale Fresh-a Fresh Grocery Delivery Service.

In this forth month of the year 2020, we are doing things a bit differently at the ResilientAfrica Network (RAN) and proving that we are indeed resilient and will jump over hurdles to inspire, educate and support the next generation of innovators and creative thinkers. As a result, our monthly innovation fireplace events will be hosted weekly via Zoom! To aid broad dissemination and to further generate and widely share knowledge, all sessions will be recorded and verbal consent to record the online sessions will be sought from participants at the start of the sessions. 

Our first episode of the RAN Innovation Fireplace Digital Series, was guided by the theme ‘the Art of Timing’. The session sought to address the key question of whether there was really such a thing as ‘perfect timing’, especially in our innovation efforts? To speak to this topic, we invited one of our own innovators, Frank Mutaremwa, founder of ‘Akatale Fresh’ to the session, which went live on Monday April 20th, 2020. 

During the RAN Innovation Fireplace session, Frank shared about the ‘Akatale‘ application also referred to as Akatale Fresh, an online platform to enable users to order fresh groceries for delivery to their addresses from the market. Clients, through the Akatale application, which is available on android or via the team’s website can place orders for Fruits, Vegetables, Spices and Herbs, Grains and Flour, Animal Products, Bread and Pastries, Dairy Products, Seafood, among others. In his introductory remarks, Frank credited his background, being from Kabale district in the South Western Uganda, to the inception of the idea to develop Akatale. ‘I used to grow Irish potatoes in Kabale for sale to consumers in Kampala,’ he noted. Soon after he begun this venture, he came to the screeching reality that business wasn’t as simple as he had imagined and selling potatoes was in fact a costly and risky business if one does not have a ready market for them. He shared honestly on how he would often end up giving some of his produce away for free to prevent them going bad. The experience caused him to explore how he could use his knowledge in Computer Science to create a ready market for perishable food stuffs, while also easing the delivery of the same from the markets to peoples’ places of residence. 

The Akatale fresh application, through the mentorship and guidance of the RAN and USV teams and through funding from the Ministry of ICT and National guidance, re-launched in March, 2020. We asked Frank, a technology enthusiast, whether he believed there was such a thing as ‘perfect timing’. He shared that he did, since the recent movement restrictions enforced in an effort to fight further spread of the Coronavirus, had provided an opportune time for the launching of his app. He noted however, that as entrepreneurs it is often difficult and sometimes near impossible to know when these ‘perfect’ opportunities will come. What is more important is than ‘knowing’ is ‘preparing’ for the perfect time. 

In concluding, Frank also shared briefly on how to stay relevant amidst the sea of competitors. He encouraged fellow entrepreneurs to embrace competition, since it sparks ‘creativity’ and pushes you to work even harder and more uniquely. ‘My team, and I are open to learning each day and we aim at doing our very best. Right now, we are working towards becoming even better than Jumia and we believe that this can happen.’

Here are 6 key takeaways we noted from our chat with Frank; 

  1. It is important to first identify and get to know and understand the behaviors of your target users and those that demand your product. Frank struggled to sell his irish potatoes, not because there was no demand for them but because he didn’t first seek to know who his potential clients.
  2. Keep your eyes on the prize, entrepreneurship, the innovation process, is a journey and it takes time and focus. It is not for the faint hearted!
  3. Preparation is KEY! Keep preparing your solution and doing everything possible to learn and grow your business. Make use of all resources availed to you for innovation development so that you grow through the innovation ecosystem It will be worth it when that ‘perfect’ moment comes by. 
  4. PILOT! Test the waters and keep iterating to improve your proposed solution, venture or product.
  5. Embrace the competition! It encourages creativity and promotes hard work.
  6. The customer is always right and their feedback, difficult as it might be to digest, is critical to the success of your brand.

Some of our participants had this to say;

  • ‘Hey @Frank. Nice to hear your story, and a great motivation to keep going’, James Kisoro, Zoom Call Participant.
  • ‘Thank you all and special thanks to Frank and the team! It was a wonderful event today, congratulations on transforming this part of RAN’s work to our new virtual world so well!  It was inspiring and interesting to hear the innovators that is Frank’s approach, decisions, and especially the questions of the other call participants.  They certainly have a timely innovation! Best of luck’, Dr. Maggie Linak, USAID Washington D.C. 
  • ‘I commend you Frank for your resilience and efforts towards realizing this innovation’, said Hood Ssuna, Zoom Session participant. 
  • Most of the participants also appreciated the RAN efforts to further knowledge generation and sharing by meaningfully engaging innovators, students, creative thinkers, faculty, the community members and the general public for Solutions through Innovation. 
  • Some of the Akatale Fresh clients who joined the Zoom session also applauded Akatale Fresh deliveries and quality of deliverables. 

We hope that the discussion was meaningful and we contributed to further generating and sharing knowledge for the benefit of all of us and the communities in which we live and serve. To access the full recorded conversation with Frank, follow this link. Join us for the next session of the fireplace on Monday 27th April, 2020. Details will be shared via our various communication and social media platforms https://twitter.com/AfricaResilient and https://web.facebook.com/ResilientAfricaNetwork/

‘Akatale Fresh’, was funded under the most recent cohort of the National ICT Initiatives Support Program (NIISP) by the Ministry of ICT & National Guidance. We are grateful to the government of the Republic of Uganda for spotting and supporting home grown solutions but also for giving RAN the opportunity to further nurture and scale these ventures. We conclude by congratulating Frank and his team for their tireless endeavors towards seeing the application up and running. Kudos to the team!