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Lekke Fresh looks to job creation amid growth

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Henk van der Merwe, founder and CEO of Lekke Fresh.
Henk van der Merwe, founder and CEO of Lekke Fresh.

Lekke Fresh, an online delivery platform for fresh produce, is looking to expand its team of employees after the pandemic propelled its business to over 1 100 customers.

The Stellenbosch-headquartered start-up was launched in 2019 by 25-year-old entrepreneur and Stellenbosch University graduate Henk van der Merwe, with the aim of providing dairy products, bread and pastries to the local community.

Later in the same year, Lekke Fresh won the Idea Smash competition held by Stellenbosch University, and scooped the top award for the Stellenbosch University Start-up of the Year 2019 category.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the web- and app-based platform has increased its user and sales numbers, having made over R7 million in revenueto date, just through bread, milk and eggs, says Van der Merwe.

“When I started, I didn’t have much; all I had was my WhatsApp and my spreadsheet. This helped me to kick-start my idea, and through that, I was able to get feedback from people,” he tells ITWeb.

“Today, Lekke Fresh has partnered with five local farmers and aims to employ at least 100 people, especially the youth, to run their small businesses on the side working as our couriers.”

The business receives fresh produce from local farmers and then works with students to run the weekly deliveries in Stellenbosch, Durbanville, Paarl, Gordon’s Bay and other surrounding areas.

With the unemployment rate at 34.5% in SA, the app is able to provide a decent income to youth who are employed by Lekke Fresh as independent contractors, earning a percentage of each order delivered, he adds.

While Lekke Fresh offers a free-to-use service, it charges farmers a percentage of each order and charges customers for each grocery bag used.

The past two years have seen a huge demand for online shopping in SA, which led to the introduction of a slew of online delivery services.

Discussing challenges encountered, Van der Merwe says it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for the ‘modern-day milkman’.

“Entrepreneurship is a challenge when you are young. I found that most people tended to not believe in my ability to deliver on my promises because of my age. Quite a large number of older people hesitated to do business with me as a young entrepreneur.

“But this did not discourage me. I always encourage young people to start doing business when they’re still young because even if they make business mistakes, they still have a lot to fall back on, and ample time to learn from their mistakes as well.

“A lesson I learnt was that even though people might not know you, whether you’re from a township or a wealthy background, the majority will support your business if you are committed and put in the work,” concludes Van der Merwe.

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19 Aug
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