Fri, 17 Jun 2016 - 11:55 GMT
Fri, 17 Jun 2016 - 11:55 GMT
Yumamia connects meal seekers with certified chefs to ensure delivery of home-cooked meals.
by Noha Mohammed
The best meal in the world is the one you find in your mother’s, next-door-neighbor’s, or friend’s kitchen. The problem is, those people might not always be available to cook for you.”
The Yumamia team certainly got that right! With people leading ever-busier lives, it’s not easy to fit cooking hearty meals into a hectic schedule. The founders behind Yumamia are out to “connect hungry people with great talented home cooks in their community, so that everyone can have access to delicious homecooked food at all times.”
Firm believers that “sharing a meal bridges cultures, creates friendships and brings a soulful sense of community,” Yumamia’s premise is simple yet brilliant — hungry users log on to the website, place an order then sit back and wait for it to arrive. Meanwhile the Yumamia team gets to work finding a home chef close by who starts on your order and arranges for it to be picked up and delivered to your doorstep. Families get to share delicious meals and aspiring chefs can pursue their passion at home, and make some money along the way. This month, we talk to founder Belal El Borno about Yumamia’s journey and their plans for the future.
Post-revolution there has been a return to everything Egyptian. In the food sector, this is especially clear, with a noticeable rise in “local” (and often high-end) restaurants. Would you say it’s one of the reasons Yumamia, which is also all about traditional Egyptian food, is doing so well?
We definitely agree with this statement and it definitely plays a role in our success. Not only is there a rebirth of Egyptian culture, but there is also a higher sense of community where people want to support small home-based businesses. Why do you think a service like Yumamia has taken off here even though the majority of Egyptian housewives cook at home every day? Which niches did you see out there that needed to be filled?
Actually, Egyptian women became very busy over the past 10 years; some have 9 to 6 jobs while others are busy with extra-curricular activities, so that leaves very little time to cook. When we launched yumamia.com we found hundreds of customers (both male and females) who have thanked us for solving this daily cooked food sourcing problem.
You’ve reached out to scores of cooks — how do you assess them and what sort of training do you give them? More importantly, how do you ensure quality control over time and do you have a channel for dealing with customer complaints?
We have a third party food hygiene and safety consulting company enlisted that visits our cooks’ kitchens periodically to ensure that they meet international food safety standards. Also, all our cooks complete a food hygiene training by a professional food hygiene and safety consultant. The way we gauge our quality is through a very extensive quality control process and one of them is through our customers’ feedback, which is collected through an SMS that is shared with customers after receipt of each order whereby customers provide a cook star rating. Accordingly, we can maintain the cooks with high ratings while excluding cooks that don’t meet our customers’ standards.
Many people now live in satellite cities where it’s sometimes a challenge to find dinner alternatives. Do many of your clients live in these areas? And do you find enough cooks to provide meals there?
A large percentage of our clients live in these areas as that’s where most of young Egyptian families live, accordingly we ensured we have enough cooks to serve the high demand in these areas. How do you ensure your ingredients are fresh and that delivery is prompt?
We have deals with high-quality raw material suppliers to ensure the quality of our ingredients and we have a very intricate logistics system in place.
Other than keeping customers fed and happy, you also aim to encourage women to generate their own income by cooking at home. How successful would you say you’ve been in this attempt so far?
We think Yumamia has really helped many cooks generate a decent supplementary income, some of our highly dedicated cooks generate an average of LE 10,000 a month right from working from home.[caption id="attachment_508027" align="alignnone" width="620"] The Yumamia team.[/caption]
It takes 24-48 hours for small orders and up to four days for larger ones. What constitutes a small order? And can someone place a standing order (ie get fresh food delivered every day to say an office or a home)?
Small orders are typically for a family dinner for 2 to 4 people and large orders are for parties and big gatherings. I’d like to also add that as of May 15 we reduced the 24 hours wait to 4 hours only. So now our customers can order their everyday lunch in the office or dinner for family and receive the same day within 4 hours. What’s the item on your menu that gets the most requests? For Ramadan, are you planning anything special, new menu items?
Macarona bel béchamel and Beef Stroganoff are big hits. For Ramadan we are offering a “Yumamia Ramadan Bag” that includes a mix of frozen appetizers and main courses that are ready to heat up and enjoy.
Ramadan is all about food — but it’s also a month of fasting, late nights and irregular hours. How challenging is it to manage Yumamia in Ramadan in terms of logistics such as finding fresh ingredients, beating traffic, dealing with large orders and so on?
Actually, Ramadan is the month when people are very planned with their eating habits and they tend to be quite careful to order in advance to avoid a hungry and angry crowd. For example, invites are laid out several days in advance (ex. this Friday we will invite family over, next Friday we’ll be at my in laws) and even food items are planned (ex. First day, hubby wants fattah, and the second day my friend requested mesaqa’a).
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