Ethnic grocery stores are central institutions for many African and Caribbean immigrant communities in the US and a brother of Alpha Phi Alpha has created a solution to keep them viable and profitable.
Boyede Sobitan is an initiate of the Theta Chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha in Chicago who teamed up with co-founder Fola Dada to create OjaExpress, a same day grocery delivery platform specifically for African and Caribbean grocery stores that allows small grocers to sell cultural specific groceries (i.e. African, Latin American, Kosher, Halal, etc).
According to Boyede, ethnic grocery stores often don’t last beyond one generation and with the proliferation of online grocery delivery, there is increased pressure on them. Many small to medium sized ethnic grocers lack the technology infrastructure to sell their goods online, engage and attract new customers. Products sold by these grocers are not found in mainstream grocery stores, OjaExpress works with these mom-and-pop shops to get their products online.
The OjaExpress platform allows customers to shop for their hard-to-find African and Caribbean groceries on their mobile phone.
Sobitan calls OjaExpress a turnkey platform for these grocers that helps them to enhance their businesses and gives users the United Nations of grocery stores at their fingertips.
An Alpha, Sobitan says that his Black greek experience had an influence on the creation of OjaExpress.
On his line were two Haitians, an Eritrean, a Peruvian, and a Nigerian so his introduction to Greek life was joining with brothers from the across the diaspora. Part of being their brother was exploring and experiencing their unique food cultures and realizing that they faced the same issues when it came to obtaining culturally specific ingredients.
To learn more about OjaExpress and how it seeks to preserve food culture by making essential ingredients easy to access check out their website.
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