Interview: Alissa from Hellofood

Alissa from Hellowfood

Alissa is the manager of Hellofood, the best website/service to come into my life in a looong time. Food delivered from almost any restaurant in Kigali directly to my gate… ’tis like a dream. Below is some of Alissa’s experience working for Hellofood here in Rwanda.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I’m a 20-something American who came to Rwanda directly from Nairobi and previously worked as a management consultant in Washington, DC. I moved to Rwanda because I wanted an operational rather than advisory role and knew I loved the country from my experience as an intern in 2012.

What influenced your decision to join Hellofood?

I love that the Africa Internet Group (the parent company of Hellofood now valued at over $1 billion), moves so quickly.  Every year, we are designed to double in size.  Realizing these aggressive growth targets in markets traditionally bypassed by tech investors means that every day is filled with new and exciting challenges.

And, of course, I love food!

How does Hellofood work?

You can place an order at over 80 restaurants by visiting or on our mobile app.  Choose your location, preferred restaurant, and food.  Enter your delivery address and pay for your food with cash or mobile money when our rider drops it to you in 60 minutes.

On our backend, an order comes into our system.  Then our customer service team places it to the corresponding restaurant and immediately dispatchs the rider closest to the restaurant.  The order details are then sent to that rider’s phone via our dispatching app, so he knows exactly where to pick up and drop off the order, and he lets us know exactly which  step he is on in the order flow.

Who are Hellofood’s customers?

We have two main customer profiles. The first is our lunchtime clientele, who tend to be Rwandese professionals working in banks, corporate offices, NGOs, and ministries. They order from restaurants like Simba, Nando’z, and Tally with basket sizes of Rwf 2,000 – 4,000.

During dinner hours, we see much bigger basket sizes (Rwf 8,000 – 20,000) at exotic restaurants like Sol e Luna or Zen mostly from foreigners.  Some restaurants like Mr. Chips and Meze Fresh perform well with both segments.

What is it like running an e-commerce company in Rwanda?

At one million a people, Kigali is a relatively small market for an e-commerce company.  However, because the market is small, it is relatively easy to create buzz about a new product or service, as well as connect with business and media influencers.

Hellofood is in a really interesting growth phase where we want to continue to rapidly acquire customers (we get 30-35 new customers per day) but do so in an increasingly cost effective way.  It is great that in two years we’ve gone from zero to hundreds of customers per day, but now the focus is pointedly on efficient growth.

What do you like best about your job?

I love that it is so people oriented.  My team is absolutely incredible – we all work super hard but also have a ton of fun laughing at and with each other.  It has also been a joy getting to know the restaurant owners in the city.  I love being a thought partner when they are thinking about everything from how hellofood operations can improve to how they should modify their pricing to which new items to add to their menus.

What’s next for Hellofood?

Other than driving for more financial efficiency, we’re also thinking about how to expand beyond our core business.  For example, we’ve brought several alcohol providers onto the platform, including Wines and More, Target Mart, and Bottle Store.  We also now offer shisha through Chap Chap Shisha.

We are also increasing our event and corporate catering business. For instance, six hellofood vendors provided all the food at the CHAN matches at Amahoro stadium, and we’re hoping to do a food court at the World Economic Forum.  We have also done conference catering at co-working spaces such as The Office and kLab, as we can easily advise on menus and negotiate prices given our existing relationships with the best restaurants in the city.

About Kirsty

A Canadian who left in 2001 to wander around the world in search of sun, beautiful views and goat brochettes. Found Kigali in July 2010 and it seems like the perfect fit. I expect to be here until I get kicked out for defiantly walking on the grass while wearing flip flops.