Gingerbox: Why Nigeria’s clever niche startup is selling fruit online


The Nigerian city of Lagos is, simply put, chaotic. With horns blaring from 4am till 1am, the best way to avoid getting caught up in traffic is to rent a helicopter or drive between 11pm and 4am. Since these are not the most realistic options for the majority of the city’s residents, spending long hours in traffic is inevitable and lots of things are compromised – including adequate sleep and a good diet.

It’s not too surprising then that many residents of the city spend more time on the road than at work or at home put together – they basically live on the go, eating junk on the road.  To get the more healthy option of fruit and vegetables would require a trip to the market, which is another strenuous and long journey for many residents. But a startup has launched to solve this problem by offering a service that delivers fresh produce to office complexes. It is called Gingerbox.

To use the service, visit the platform, select the items you want, the company packs it and delivers it to the office address using its refrigerated van between 3pm and 7pm weekly.

The Genesis

The founder of the startup, Adekunle Jinadu, didn’t have any background in nutrition or the sale of fruit and vegetables. However, he’d founded Jaramall, a daily needs online shop that was selling everything from cleaning supplies to packed food and fresh farm produce. According to him, Gingerbox is a product of the lessons learnt from Jaramall.

Jaramall -- Nigeria's online grocery store for your foodstuff and household supplies

“We applied for seed investment and during discussions with our to-be investors, we analysed all the data we had gathered in one year (data round product, operations cost, logistics, etc.) and responses from customer surveys (physical and online). Gingerbox is a product of all the lessons learnt from this study and advice from investors. This shows in our overall strategy; product, customer acquisition and distribution strategy,” Jinadu tells Ventureburn.

Read more: 3 unique trends shaping Nigeria’s startup ecosystem

Even though he didn’t admit that something was wrong with Jaramall, he said its model was not unique. But the current model fits perfectly for the company as it stands today.

“I won’t say anything was particularly wrong. There are a few online grocery stores using similar models. I just think we decided to move from selling about a thousand products to focusing on a few and becoming the best at them. We also decided to focus on delivering these products to working professionals 99% of the time,” he said.

As the platform’s full ecommerce site launched recently, Jinadu said the current model was the best way to meet customers’ needs on a consistent basis.

Market Response

The pivot from an all-needs ecommerce shop, which competes against the multimillion dollar giants such as Konga and Jumia, to a niche online fresh produce shop has proven to be fruitful. This is critical for other startups in the ecosystem: not just relying on the awesomeness of your initial idea.

For Gingerbox, Jinadu said the response had been impressive. The company is performing favourably as shown in its steady growth, which echoes his confidence in the future of the startup.

“We’re growing sales weekly. By this weekend, we’ll have done 40% over last week. There’s a clear need for our service. We’ve also got very ‘disruptive’ products in the offing that’ll be released to the market once our new processing/office space is opened. I’m super-confident about the future of the business,” he said.

Read more: Does South Africa’s ecommerce future really lie with niche players?

He said they were currently growing the customer base across offices, and even though they are currently only delivering fruits, otherhealthy food options will be added in March.

“We’ve got several boxes with price ranging from NGN2,000 to 7,000 (US$10 – 33). Customers are super excited about the idea and are paying for the service too. We are now getting customers from the top corporate organisations in Nigeria,” Jinadu said.

“We’re targeting employees of corporate bodies, getting them to sign up and make orders. We have lots of repeat orders. However our subscription service kicks off from 1 March,” he says.

Big Lesson

Jinadu said there was a great lesson for stakeholders in Nigeria’s startup ecosystem to learn in the quest for general growth of the ecosystem and survival of individual startups. He said he believed that a lot of growth could be achieved through knowledge sharing.

“I think that there’s a lot of growth in knowledge sharing. We’ve also seen the bigger guys invest in the growing ones. I think this is excellent for the ecosystem. However, there’s still in my opinion, a human resource gap and space for more local funding,” Jinadu tells us.

Paul Adepoju


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