Simba Food joins Jumia Food, Yum Deliveries in Uganda’s food delivery business

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On the 15th of December 2017, Industrial Area located Software World Uganda launched its food delivery service called Simba Food. This implies the company joins Lumumba Avenue located Jumia Food and Bugolobi based Yum Deliveries, who are both in the arena already. 

“Simba Food is a food delivery company. We deliver food to the customer’s doorstep in and around Kampala. Basically, we have an app on Google Play and App Store from where you can find the restaurants. We have more than 100 restaurants on board,” said Purnendu Mukherjee, the CEO of Simba Food.

Just like the other two, Simba Food allows one to order food from over an estimated 94 restaurants [my own count] on its platform. Beyond that, it also allows one to book a table at a restaurant as well as view events. The startup also says that they “use Thermal Box in every delivery bike to keep the food as warm as you eat from restaurant [sic]”.

The model, according to Purnendu, is simple, “you order for the food at the same price as it is a restaurant. All you have to pay for is the transport”. This is the same model used by Jumia Food, and perhaps the majority of food delivery companies.

The company, therefore, makes its money by negotiating a commission with the restaurant. Except for cases where a restaurant wants to stand out and they pay for advertising/boosting.

Now, here’s where it gets interesting from. With three players fighting to have restaurants on board, restaurant owners and users will benefit the most.

Because this will take away the “monopoly” that Jumia Food has on the market. Which, according to the supply and demand law, dictates that restaurants will be in a position where they can negotiate fairer commission rates. 

Yet, this is only possible if two assumptions hold true; If Jumia Food currently has a significant share of the restaurants’ revenue and if Simba Food and Yum Deliveries work on taking away a significant share of that.

Jumia Food currently has over 150 restaurants on board, Simba Food has around 94 and Yum Deliveries [from a call I made to the customer service] has slightly above 40. 

Currently, Jumia Food averages over 500 orders a day while Simba Food, according to Purnendu has an average of 25-40 orders per day. Though our sources indicate the figure could be below 25. For Yum Deliveries, I am not sure.

Though, even Purnendu admitted that “Jumia Food is definitely a bigger competition to Simba Food because they have been in this business for the last 3 to 4 years”.

“They have already established their network and everything. So, definitely, we still have a long way to go. But, as Simba Food, we are definitely ready to push it.”

Additionally, Simba Food offers table booking services as well as displaying events on its platform. Ideally, the startup wants to brand itself as an end-to-end platform for both those looking to order from a restaurant or go and eat from there. Which makes sense.

As it is now, diversification is becoming key to mitigating risks in the African markets. Recently, ride-hailing company Taxify crossed the boundaries and started admitting Boda Bodas on its platform. If this route works out for Simba Food, then I won’t be surprised when Jumia Food starts offering it. 

However, there’s something Simba Food is offering that completely doesn’t make sense. They are displaying events on their platform. Not only does it crowd the platform, Purnendu told me that they don’t expect to make money out of it 

“That events section is a good thing we are keeping on our app. It is related to entertainment. But we are not looking at making money out of listing these events. It is just a service to clients that not only food you’re getting on our app but also you’re getting some other benefits as well [sic],” said Purnendu Mukherjee.

When you closely look at the Simba Food app in Google play, you’ll notice that it was developed by Sun technologies, a company from UAE. So, Software world is “leasing the Simba Food app from Sun technologies for use,” according to Purnendu.

There are other apps under Sun technologies from Ugandan restaurants on Google play. These include Prunes, The Lawns, Taste Budz Uganda and more that you can check out here.

“Sun technologies also provides white-label app solutions. So, if any restaurant wants to have their own app, they can have it from Software World official partner of Sun technologies in Uganda [sic],” said Purnendu.

Purnendu also said that the company is currently funded by two directors. Who also have interest in venturing into other e-commerce products. Apart from Simba Food, Software World – the parent company, has another service called Simba Online Bar a direct competitor to Jumia Group’s Jumia Party.

What Simba Food is doing is basically what Jumia Group’s parent company, the German-based Rocket Internet [Disclosure: I used to work for Rocket Internet’s Jumia Group in Uganda] has been accused of doing for some time – cloning others. There have been accusations of cloning Facebook, Airbnb, Uber and more.

Only that this time around, in the African market, it is the other way round. Everyone is cloning Rocket Internet’s Jumia Group.

On the continental level, currently, UberEats and Jumia Food are leading the food delivery business. However, to show how lucrative it has become, even SafariMeals recently launched in Somalia.

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