When Vutlharhi Valoyi set out in early 2016 to create Zulzi, a world-class app that enables users to buy items online and have them delivered within an hour, he sparked a shopping revolution in South Africa.

“It took us six months to complete the development of the main customer app, shoppers’ app, delivery app and the portal where orders are managed,” says Valoyi, Zulzi CEO.

Through the app, users – currently 15 000 and counting – can shop for anything from groceries to restaurant food using their phone or any other device, saving themselves the hassle of commuting to the stores and waiting in line. Once an order is paid for, a shopper buys the items and a driver delivers them to the customer.

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“We want to integrate the offline world with the online world, where customers can buy anything and get it delivered within an hour,” says Valoyi. “Most of our users, such as working moms, have hectic schedules. They’d rather focus on their daily activities than spend an hour at a supermarket.”

To keep abreast of developments in the sector and sharpen their innovation instincts, Zulzi’s founders keep a close eye on what other online retail platforms are up to around the world.

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This commitment to excellence saw Zulzi win the coveted MTN Best Breakthrough Award and MTN People’s Choice Award last year. It was a crowning achievement, proof that the start-up operation was on the right track. “The awards helped in terms of getting more companies to be interested in partnering with us,” says Valoyi. “The number of users also increased.”

What Valoyi finds truly gratifying, however, is the fact that the app has led to the creation of employment in this job-starved country. “We hire more than 100 personal shoppers. Creating jobs remains our number one priority,” he says.

Currently based in Jo’burg, Zulzi intends to expand to the Western Cape, Pretoria and Durban in the coming months. “We want to become the leading on-demand delivery platform in Africa,” he says.

A firm believer in innovation to meet consumer demand, Valoyi believes South Africa “needs to actively encourage entrepreneurship so that it’s not seen as something you do when all else fails”.

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