Online food delivery company, Jumia Food has launched an initiative aimed at recruiting more women riders; the link between their partner restaurants and customers. With over 200 restaurants listed on the site, in Nairobi and Mombasa the recently appointed Managing Director Shreenal Ruparelia who replaces outgoing MD – Duncan Muchangi- pointed to the need for gender diversity as well as creating equal opportunities in the growing eCommerce industry.
Quoting a 2016 report by McKinsey which places women at 25 per cent share in male dominated fields, Celebrating female riders, whom the MD terms as heroes, she noted that the gender gap in the workforce is quite prevalent throughout all levels, citing what she refers to as “societal beliefs” as a major cause.
Mitchelle Khaemba, who takes pride as the company’s first female rider reiterates on the MD’s comments as she narrates her experience thus, “economically uplifting for women and a gateway for women to create a foundation for talent exploration to greater heights” Mitchelle, who works alongside her husband Thomas Khaemba says the decision to join the Jumia Food fleet was well supported by her husband, even though her neighbors and extended family still act surprised by her otherwise “manly” occupation.
Spotting a slight built, and a signature warm smile that her Jumia Food customers have become accustomed to, Mitchelle oozes of resilience as she narrates her first days on the road, “although a lot has been achieved in creating equal opportunities, women are still particularly vulnerable to masculine stereotypes, which can range from seemingly passive gestures to extremely suggestive verbal intonations; being affirmative and bearing your family’s support is quite essential in order to excel”
She goes on to say that her continuous training and support with the venture has gone a long way in preparing her for the task, “apart from the hard skills, Jumia Food has equipped me with the basics of professional customer care and client service, some of which I wouldn’t have acquired on the regular track”
In her husband’s words, Mitchelle’s growth is simply powered by her passion to succeed and to see their young family prosper. “‘I have learnt from my father’s wisdom never to act as a stumbling block to my wife’s endeavours” he says with a smile, “we have created a healthy balance between all our tasks and schedules, her work does not take away from the family time, instead, we are now positioned to scale greater heights with her contribution” Thomas urges men to let their wives be, while appreciating corporate keen on creating equal opportunities at every stage.
Currently, Jumia Food employs over sixty riders, with an expansion plan keen on recruiting more female riders. Such is welcome news for Mitchelle, who says her tenure so far has served as a reassurance to women that is is possible to excel and attain growth on and off the road. Her peers, as she explains view her more as a colleague as opposed to a woman; which has been instrumental in creating great teamwork and synergy needed to attain set goals.
Logistics and delivery is an integral part of the ecommerce chain, the riders therefore are trained to complete the processes by overcoming such challenges as weather changes, traffic and other human factors. For instance, the company is already well prepared to serve customers on the upcoming election day, having successfully delivered in the past.Our riders attend training sessions every fortnight as we strive to provide excellent communication and customer service to all our clients.
So what’s next
Michelle, expresses her desire to see more women take active roles in traditionally-masculine pursuits, and welcomes the move by her employer to recruit more women riders to serve the online food ordering app, “it’s not just about being fair or correct, it’s about creating grounds where women feel well accommodated and safe as they pursue economic activities”
The MD further explains that, the main goal right now is to reach more of our customers in the Eastlands area, and to reduce the delivery time from sixty minutes to under forty minutes.