Freshbag, launched in 2019, is a digital platform that connects farmers to urban retailers in Cameroon. The company buys products from farmers and distributes them to street vendors in the capital Yaoundé. Freshbag recently received investment from GreenTec Capital Partners. Founder Brice Ludovic Bindzi Mvogo (34) answers our questions.
1. Give us your elevator pitch.
Freshbag connects thousands of farmers and street vendors to its fair and reliable procurement marketplace, providing them with the necessary services (procurement, logistics and financials) to help their businesses thrive and be more resilient.
2. How did you finance your startup?
Part of the startup’s initial funds was love money (friends and family) and my own savings.
3. If you were given $1 million to invest in your company now, where would it go?
The bulk of the funding would go towards expansion of our distribution and logistics capabilities across Cameroon and Africa. There are more than 2 million food and FMCG street vendors in Cameroon alone and we are only able to serve a fraction of that demographic at the moment.
4. What risks does your business face?
The main risks are tied to the people we serve. Informal street vendors – because they live in constant uncertainty – are often unreliable and reluctant to engage in formal contracts. Our loyalty and reward programmes are in part gradually solving that issue but we still have a long way to go in changing attitude and behaviour.
5. So far, what has proven to be the most successful form of marketing?
Word of mouth and affiliate marketing. If a street vendor sees a business opportunity he will tell its friend and so on. Street vendors are a tightly connected community.
6. Describe your most exciting entrepreneurial moment.
Being able to afford staff wages from our own revenues. It is a huge milestone when you know how hard it is to make it in Africa.
7. Tell us about your biggest mistake.
I had to let go of one of our important team members because of a misdemeanor that was tarnishing our brand image. This was someone I put my trust in. They say business is all about people; it is even more true when you are small and starting and where every little penny counts. Surrounding yourself with the right people is one of the hardest tasks in order to build a successful company. No one can teach you how to select the right people and often you will choose the wrong ones. I’ve learnt this is part of the process; now I can part ways with underperforming staff without resenting myself too much.