Coronavirus creates opportunity for Chinese student in Canada to start local market delivery business

By Chen Xi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/6/18 19:33:41

Photo: Courtesy of Chen Jiaye

Chinese student Chen Jiaye, who is studying at the University of Toronto in Canada, never imagined he and his business partner Mohammed Rayed Wasif's idea about delivering groceries and supplies that they proposed for a campus entrepreneurship competition would eventually become a reality, which has attracted a lot of customers due to the outbreak of a pandemic. 

The COVID-19 pandemic turned serious in Canada in early April, leading to many people becoming hesitant about heading to public places such as supermarkets. Meanwhile, supermarkets began placing limits on the number of customers allowed inside in order to maintain proper social distance. So the situation provided the two students with the perfect opportunity to carry out their business plan. 

"The food delivery service is quite mature in Scarborough [an administrative division of Greater Toronto Area], but we noticed that the service in delivering groceries and medical supplies like some vegetables, face masks and sanitizers still had a potential market, so we decided to set up our business," Chen told the Global Times on Wednesday. 

After more than half a month of designing and creating a service website they named "Sumer" after the ancient Mesopotamian civilization and establishing cooperative partnerships with four supermarkets and many medical supplies companies in Toronto, Chen and Wasif's business officially opened on April 25. 

Compared with big companies that deliver goods from major chain stores, Sumer fits more with local tastes in Scarborough since it cooperates with two Chinese and two Indian supermarkets. 

"There isn't any grocery delivery company that partner with local grocery stores, and the local business like many Chinese and Indian grocery stores does not have access to the 2.3 billion online grocery markets. Sumer is here to provide a platform to fill in the gap. We do not want to compete with the big delivery platforms like Instacart, we want to create a platform for the city's local supermarkets, or maybe for some local small businesses like bakeries in the near future," he said. 

Another advantage of Sumer, according to Chen, is that the platform can show updated information about a supermarket's goods. 

"The customer can see from the website when the goods they want to buy are sold out, which can offer them a good purchase experience."


Photo: Courtesy of Chen Jiaye

Currently, business is going well. They have been delivering three to five orders per day. Besides the website, a phone app is also being developed and the business associates have expanded from two to eight. 

However, he pointed that they still have some problems when it comes to publicity. "We are just students with limited funds, so we are looking for investors to invest in our project so that we have funds to do more marketing and expand our popularity."

He added that he was not concerned that business might drop after the virus crisis ends. On the contrary, he said he believes this model will become a practice that is accepted by more people. 

Considering his parents are also entrepreneurs, Chen said that he has quite enjoyed setting up a business. Both Chen and Wasif have a big ambition: They plan to cooperate with more local supermarkets in each city of Canada one day. 


blog comments powered by Disqus