Of Service Innovation In Zimbabwe: The Story Of Fresh In A Box

Image Courtesy: @FreshInAbox (Twitter)

I live in Mabvuku, a small high density suburb in Zimbabwe, almost on every street corner you will find a lady with a stall (Musika) selling a variety of vegetables and wares most of which is sourced at Mbare Musika. This business concept has been in existence since time immemorial, a lot of families have been sustained through misika, kids even graduating from university. Though it has been loathed by many, @begottensun and @RufaroD have taken this whole concept to a new level through their start-up Fresh In A Box.

So what is Service Innovation and why is a a big thing for Zimbabwe? In my own simple definition, Service Innovation is changing the way in which the customer is served. In our case service innovation refers to the innovation and improvement of processes and delivery.

Service Innovation is going to be a big thing in Zimbabwe, over the last two decades customer service delivery in Zimbabwe declined to embarrassing levels, owing to the economic instability in the country. Right now Zimbabwe is on the brink of rising again, it is critical to ensure that the right customer service tone is set, as with the innovative service delivery being implemented by Fresh In A Box.

I know, someone is still wondering what is Fresh In A Box. Fresh In A Box is an innovative vegetable sales and delivery start-up based in Harare. The start-up delivers fresh local grown vegetables, of course in a box for an affordable $20.00. The box among-st many other veggies contains, tomatoes, potatoes, pepper onion, broccoli and the items in the box have been increasing on a continual basis.

So whats the craze about Fresh In A Box. Historically the musika business has been run by women, Fresh In A Box is run by two Harare based young men. So instead let me say this is a modern musika basically run from your phone or computer using social media, how cool is that? Instead of wearing off your pata pata (slippers) walking to Mai Lawrence stall to buy tomatoes she brought to her stall last Tuesday, Fresh In A box delivers to your doorstep. As the name goes Fresh In A Box, this is fresh produce from local farmers.

This business model is set to disrupt the vegetable market, the scale at which it is growing is unprecedented. In a conversation with Kuda Musasiwa (@Begottensun) he indicated that they are delivering a minimum of 50 Fresh Boxes per day, with some orders having to be put on a waiting list. So, this is what an average vegetable buyer didn’t know, big supermarkets like Pick n Pay and Fruit and Veg source produce from local farmers at awfully low prices,which is to some extent a rip off. They package the produce and charge you premium prices. Fresh In The Box instead is cutting the all bottlenecks including the middlemen, by buying straight from the producers and delivering the box to your door step at an affordable price.

Improvement in service processes through service innovation open up opportunities and creates synergies from both product/produce development to its delivery. What am i even saying here…. let me not confuse myself. In simple words, Fresh In A box now is getting fresh supplies from producers such as Chilli Power who provide chilli sauce, @PercyGono is a lettuce farmer and @BrianMakuchete is the new guy supplying Fresh In A Box fresh big chickens.

Its easy to connect the dots when your company offers great service, suppliers flock to you rather than you chasing suppliers. It is easy to scale up any business idea if you are offering great service, most businesses stagnant at a certain level because they employ old methods to new markets. The best definition of innovation i have heard so far is, “Innovation is the iteration of ideas”. Vegetables have always been sold, twitter has always been there, i actually joined it in 2011, but an innovative mind has turned these tools to create a proper flourishing business model.

Whilst you’re using social media as a distraction and entertainment tool, your peers are actually using it to make money.

What You Can Learn From Fresh In The Box Service Innovation.

  1. Be Bold The word innovation is easy to throw around, actual execution of innovative ideas is a whole new level for gutsy people. Your idea works, build learn and measure your ideas, improve as you go, leveraging on customer feedback. Some are even afraid kunzi blaaz vanotengesa pamusika.
  2. Leverage On Technology — If in 2018 your business is not utilizing technology as a leverage to push it products and services, you’re doomed. Fresh In A Box utilizes technology for customer acquisition, route planning and to get customer feedback as well.
  3. The Feedback Loop — Mnangangwa always says i am a listening president, are you a listening business? In the Lean Start Up Eric Ries emphasizes the need to develop products based on customer feedback. In one instance Fresh In A Box had to publicly apologize for delivering bad broccoli, with a catchy animated ad. If it were you my brother, let me leave it there!!!!! We can only improve what we acknowledge.
  4. Real Power Is The Customer — In service innovation the real power is in the customer, the growth of Fresh In The Box has been registered mostly by the positive feedback which happy customers have been sharing. This is a key motivation for any business owner. Only satisfied customers can make your business go viral. Even angry customers can help, because one great man once said, Everything you criticize, you advertise.

Asante Sana, Good Evening Zimbabwe!

Walter T. Rambwi is a Human Resources & Innovation Enthusiast.



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Walter T. Rambwi

Walter T. Rambwi

Organizational Development | Talent Management | Design Thinking & Innovation