SoW: Pricepally.com, Nigeria’s startup in a mission to fix broken African food system with tech

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*Food system serving African cities is broken with people spending 70% of income on food

* Pricepally creates close to 1000 direct jobs, to grow customers base to 10,000, targets $1m revenue per month

*Acknowledges Lagos State Govt for grants

*Wants govt to address high cost of fertilizer, empower farmers

*Inspired by Aliko Dangote, Tony Elumelu, Steve Jobs, other great entrepreneurs

WorldStage Newsonline– Luther Lawoyin, the CEO of Pricepally.com has set his eyes on solving the numerous problems in the food distribution system across Africa with technology, as his latest company is currently growing at about 30% in a month, with a target to hit $1 million monthly revenue.

Lawoyin is a serial entrepreneur, having founded three businesses before Pricepally.com, a company that enables consumers and businesses to group buy and share fresh and packaged food directly from farmers, producers and wholesalers- making food cheaper and fresher than in traditional markets.

With Pricepally, consumers can buy cheaper and fresher food while the farmers make more money in Africa.

Lawoyin, in an exclusive interview with WorldStage Television for the Startup on WorldStage (#SoW) project, said the mission is to build a new food system for African cities leveraging technology, data and partnerships.

WorldStage is engaging all the startups in Nigeria as part activities to host the first annual SoW Summit in December 2022.

Lawoyin said even though many Nigerians are trooping abroad because of the harsh economic condition at home, the problems for him to solve are in the country.

Pricepally was one of the nine Nigerian tech innovators and start-ups that made it to the semi-final of the just concluded Gulf Information Technology Exhibition(GITEX) 2022 tech-invention competition.

On the problems with the food system, he said the system serving African cities is broken, cumbersome, very expensive with a lot of waste as people commit up to 70% of their income to food “which doesn’t make sense”, as against less than 10% Europe and other places.

To solve the problems, he said his company is building a system that enables consumers to buy fresh food, shorting the distance between producers and consumers.

Having identified and solved the problem at home, Lawoyin said he was inspired to build technology layers for farmers, wholesalers and consumers to access smarter system that will cut a lot of waste regardless of middle men.

He said with tech, his company is positioned to deliver promises on freshness, quality and fair price for food.

He is very worried that, “When Nigerians eat food, they have less money to do other things like buying clothes.”

He said the company had started solving the problems starting from the demand side and they would not be able to do it alone, but through partnership with others.

He said the response by the market had been well as the company is already serving thousands of customers every month, while bring value to the market.

Not afraid of competion, he said it is an open market with direct competitors, people who sell online, but his company will keep ahead by delivering on promises with fair price, better quality and convenience of delivery.

On jobs, he said the company had created direct jobs close to 1000 jobs, in addition to driver partners which affected thousands of families, farmers, extension services workers, producers, and wholesale sellers.

He identified the challenges facing the business to be much like what everyone is facing in terms of planning, to build personal systems unlike in other countries where people just have to plug into existing system.

On government policies, he acknowledged the support of Lagos State Government which gave grants on food security through which his company got a couple of millions of Naira, while he was also among those sponsored to GITEL 2022 in Dubai by Lagos State.

However, he appealed to the government to address policies that are not working, such as lack of access and high cost of fertilizer to farmers.

He said government should empower the farmers, saying, “reality is different from what we hear. If they can get all the money we hear about, things will change.”

For instance, he said as transportation of food is costing about 25-30%, there should be the option of railway for food transportation which will drastically drop the price of food, enabling environment to reduce spoilage of food.

Lawoyin said what has been motivating him to forge ahead is the challenge itself, the importance of the challenge, “the future I like to see for my business and Nigeria.”

He is also inspired by every successful local businesses in Nigeria as role models, such as Aliko Dangote who had been able to build super business, Tony Elumelu who built UBA after transition from his former bank,  and  people like Steve Jobs.

On future projection, he wants to expand the business to at least 10 African cities in 2025 from the current three.

He said, “We want to reach a million dollar in revenue every month. That is our next target. We want to grow this so that we have 1000 customers, we want to grow that to 10,000. The growth has been exceptional, the numbers are ahead of us. We’ve been growing 30% month by month, we’ve been adding customers through referral among, others.”

On advice for young entrepreneurs who want to survive in the country, he said “if you’re a Nigerian, you have your work cut out for you five times. You need a lot of perseverance, patience, speed. Be patient on what you cannot change and be fast on what you can change.”

He also advised that entrepreneurs should be considerate with the environment as people do take advantage of system to sell at ridiculous price, saying, “We need to be fair.”

He said while potential entrepreneurs should keep at it, if it doesn’t work, they should try other things as there are a lot problems in Nigeria to be solved.