• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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Alabaara Couple: The new Lagos e-house help

Alabaara Couple: The new Lagos e-house help

It is often said that ideas rule the world. Oladipo and Aderinola Dinyo, popularly called ‘The Alabaara Couple’, have come up with an idea that is taking stress off working women in Lagos.

In fact, the couple is now the new electronic house help in Nigeria’s economic capital. While Oladipo is the chief executive officer of the business, Aderinola is the chief operating officer.

The couple established Alabaara.com two years ago and has since been doing the job of a house help for many homes. Through a WhatsApp platform, Lagos women, who are tied down by their jobs, offices and traffic, request food items they need and pay this couple to buy them on their behalf.

Of course, it is not for free as the service attracts a charge of around N2,000.

“The idea is to help women. That is why we started this business called Alaabara.com. ‘Alabara’ in Yoruba means someone that helps you to buy. We are totally different from online shops because we don’t sell products; what we sell is convenience,” Oladipo Dinyo, CEO/MD of Alaabara.com, tells Start-Up Digest.

The Oladipo and his wife Aderinola do not box people into what they don’t need as some online shops do, rather, they get the needs of their clients as directed.

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“Apart from taking stress off you, we save you money also, because if you are the one going to all these markets, you probably would fuel your car, pay the someone that will help you buy them and another person that will help you to carry them. But we do these and charge little,” the CEO says.

What motivated the couple to set up this business? Aderinola and her husband turned their harsh experience into a money-making venture.

“It is something that came out of practicality. I discovered I was not enjoying my wife while she was working in a bank. She would go to work from Monday to Friday at 5 am. Thank God I could afford a house help. But then, we started raising kids but discovered it was difficult for her. On Saturdays too, when she would need rest, she would go for church and other programmes. She was always in a hurry,” the CEO explains, adding that his wife had to resign to run the business.

“We found out that several women were going through these. We said to ourselves, ‘Why don’t we become a stop-gap?” he recollects.

The business began in 2016 and by 2017, orders had started pouring in. Today, the firm takes orders from morning till night.

Also, reviews have been on the up since last year.

“When we started, it was almost for free. Later, people we started with N1, 000 service charge and clients urged us to increase it,” he adds.

The CEO says that orders are made via WhatsApp and once they are confirmed, the client pays.

“We must get your orders 10 am today if you want us to shop for you tomorrow,” he says, adding that the company goes to the wholesale market where products are cheap.

“So, instead of going to your neighbourhood market to buy tomatoes, we go to the Mile 12s, the Oyingbos, the Okearis, the Ijoras to buy them at cheaper rates for you. At the end of the day, we are getting you premium at very good prices,” he discloses.

To safeguard against risks, the Alabaara Couple asks clients to send pictures of what they need.

“If you don’t have pictures, when we get to the market, we take pictures and send to you via WhatsApp. If the person says ‘yes’, we buy, but if the person does not respond, we will not buy,” he states.

Oladipo points out that the company has been able to acquire two buses and a number of staff, divided into two teams. One team handles the ‘buying’ side while the other team handles delivery.

Apart from being able to cover some parts of Lekki area of Lagos, Alabaara is expanding into the Lagos mainland, with referrals driving the expansion.

The firm’s CEO reveals that the busiest moments are from 24th of the preceding month to the 10th of the following month.

“Our strongest point is that we remove stress off many homes. When you take stress off a home, you are building a home, a generation and a nation. That is our biggest joy, which is more than money. If you meet people’s needs, eventually you will make money,” he says.

He further states that the firm shops both for clients with few needs and those who have huge needs.

The company plans to expand beyond Lagos but is first interested in capturing the Lagos market.

“Once we have beaten the Lagos market, other markets will be easier. Once we have mastered the art of providing food for Lagos people, we will move over,” he says.

How does the company handle perishables?

“If before it gets to you there is damage, we will take care of it. One of our clients had broken eggs and we had to replace them. But for things that we don’t know what are inside them, we have indemnity against them. Those things in the cartons that we buy from shops, we can return them to where we bought them from and they will be replaced,” he says.

For Aderinola, one key factor for succeeding in this business is passion.

“Passion is what makes you meet specific needs of the clients and not necessarily exceed their expectations,” she says.