Tupuca: the exciting developments of Angola’s first food delivery service

Delivery apps are becoming more prominent in Africa and are an important way of reducing time spent shopping for foods and other essential goods. One such example is Tupuca; Angola’s first delivery app. Tupuca has expanded to include goods such as coal and livestock, and is currently working with Roque Online. This has exciting economic connotations, including greater interaction between the informal and formal sectors.

WHAT IS TUPUCA AND HOW DID IT START?

Tupuca is Angola’s first delivery app (similar to Uber Eats and Jumia Food) based in Luanda.

Tupuca was started by Erickson Mvezi, Wilson Ganga, Patrice Espirito Santo, Sydney Texeira and Wilson Ganga in 2015, who originally wanted to design a clothes delivery platform. Legal and market problems lead Mvezi, Tupuca’s CEO, to realise that this was not feasible, but his original model could be adapted to help Luanda’s population buy food.

In an interview with Disrupt Africa Mvezi said: “We realised that people living in Luanda had a difficult time going around to pick up food and other essentials. Tupuca has validated many assumptions in the delivery industry in Angola. Many people were sceptical about the readiness of the market”.

This scepticism by some may have been misplaced. Tupuca has expanded over the last few years to cover all the key territories in Luanda and is planning to expand not just to other Angolan cities, but to neighbouring countries. In 2017 Tupuca won the Angolan leg of the global Seedstars World competition, the world’s biggest startup competition in emerging markets.

WHAT RECENT DEVELOPMENTS MAKE TUPUCA PARTICULARLY EXCITING?

Tupuca has become more than just a simple food delivery service. They have expanded to delivering other essentials for Luanda’s public. Tupuca now allows its users to purchase amenities including coal, petrol, groceries and also livestock. In order to service this, Tupuca has teamed up with Roque online. Roque online employs many ‘runners’ who find the best produce and take it to a Tupuca driver, who then delivers it to a customer. This development is important for several reasons.

As Mvezi said, it can be very difficult for people in Luanda to pick up food and essentials. Tupuca speeds up the whole process, and therefore people in Luanda have to spend less time looking for and buying their essentials. This gives them more time to dedicate to work or leisure.

Furthermore, in the words of Mvezi, this new development is “breaking down barriers between informal and formal markets”. An informal market is a part of the economy that is not taxed nor monitored by the government. In contrast, a formal market is monitored and may be taxed. Over one third of households in Luanda have at least one person that sells through the informal market. Tupuca and Roque Online’s partnership allows them to vastly expand their sales. It is estimated that the informal economy equates to a third of gross domestic product (GDP) in sub-Saharan Africa. Programmes such as these becoming common place is great news for some of the poorest in sub-Saharan societies.

ALEX EMARY

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