(GUYANA CHRONICLE) – THOUGH many businesses are facing closures and declines brought about by the effects of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19), the situation has, however, opened the door for booming business in other areas, particularly the delivery business.
Thanks to a number of emerging delivery services which have been innovatively developing their facilities, if persons so desire, for a fee they can get their bills paid, get cooking gas and water, and even buy prepaid credit for their cell- phones, all without ever leaving the security of their homes.
“We do groceries pick up, where customers have two options, they can call and place their order with a supermarket or we order for them. We do food pick-up, where again we could place the order for you at a particular restaurant or you could order and we pick up. We do laundry pick-up, we do corporate and personal packages, and bill payments,” shared 26-year-old owner of “Xpress Delivery Service”, Natasha Waddle.
Though she had registered her delivery business since last year July, it was just last Friday that she decided to get her business off the ground, and so far, it has been going good.
Xpress joins other delivery services such as OneCart Dash and Hero Cart; both have been around since 2017 and have been capitalising on the increased business due to the COVID-19 situation.
Like many countries across the globe fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Guyana has implemented a number of lockdown measures with widespread advisories cautioning citizens to remain at home as much as possible to lower their risk of contracting the virus. Since the first case of the virus was registered in Guyana on March 11, the number of confirmed cases has increased to 65 as of Sunday.
Now more than ever persons are looking for a means to get what they need without leaving their homes and businesses like Waddle’s Xpress Delivery are cashing in.
“The response has been great and it is something we will continue even after the lockdown. We have had persons using every one of our services so far. We’ve done groceries and fruits deliveries, we have done bill payments, we’re doing a lot of food pick-ups and transporting packages between persons,” she noted.
Waddle has already begun approaching other businesses such as supermarkets to arrange official partnerships. She is also at the planning stage of an arrangement with Mobile Money Guyana (MMG) to have payments for the service done using that medium.
As it is currently, customers place an order which is picked up and paid for by the delivery company, and customers then reimburse for the item and pay the service fee.
She says great customer service is something she emphasises for her staff.
“They must be courteous. Customer service is one of the main things I look for with my riders,” she expressed
Waddle said she is hoping to expand the business to do limited deliveries to as far as Linden or Berbice. However there are arrangements to have staff established in various areas, including the West Bank and West Coast of Demerara.
For many of the delivery companies the standard rates range from as low as $300 around Georgetown, to as much as $1500 to Providence on the East Bank of Demerara and Mon Repos on the East Coast of Demerara. Deliveries outside of these boundaries are still catered for, but would attract additional costs. For at least one business, the service extends as far west as Charity in Essequibo and as far East as Moleson Creek in Berbice.
Many of the services are headed by young entrepreneurs like Waddle. At One Cart Dash, owner Fendel Etwaru said his business delivers pretty much anything the customers need, and spans the entire coastline.
“Everything and anything, from fast food, documents, mail, packages, gas refills, water refills, and our coverage area is across the entire coast: Charity on the Essequibo all the way to Moleson Creek, Patentia on the West Bank [of Demerara} . We’re based in Georgetown but we do have an office on the West Coast handling deliveries in those areas,” Etwaru detailed.
A Civil and Computer Engineer by profession, Etwaru started One Cart Dash as a spin-off of his online business One Cart, an online retail store.
“Getting into entrepreneurship was just a passion of mine for a very long time. I had a vision to create services that Guyanese can benefit from, consumers as well as businesses,” Etwaru noted.
In light of the COVID-19 situation, Etwaru has been partnering with businesses to help bring their services to consumers at home.
“In this current atmosphere we’re trying to find ways to assist persons to get whatever they need in the most safe and convenient way possible. We recently launched a new type of delivery service with GTT for mobile delivery of SIM cards, modems, GTT top ups, and MMG wallet reloads. That’s actually something new. We have a similar arrangement with Digicel,” Etwaru explained.
At HeroCart, co-founder and Operations Manager Kimberley Dutchin said the business was developed to meet the needs of the people. “We discussed the idea for little bit and decided we’d give it a try. We started out small with just four riders and as persons heard of the service, the business grew. We are now at about 20 delivery agents working daily that include drivers and riders,” she said.
As business continues to grow, they are currently working on opening two other offices in different locations.