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OWith the click of a button and a few phone calls from Wolverhampton in England’s West Midlands, Sharonrose Manhiri makes sure her grandmother in Zimbabwe’s Honde Valley gets her groceries every month.

Manhiri is one of a growing number of Zimbabweans who have moved abroad taking advantage of a range of food delivery apps and websites that have sprung up in Zimbabwe to help their families survive the deep economic crisis in the country.

Every month, from his home in the UK, Manhiri orders his 85-year-old grandmother, Victoria Samanga, supplies from a Zimbabwean online delivery company, Fresh in A Box. She then contacts a “runner” to pick up the order in the town of Mutare in eastern Zimbabwe and take it the 130km to her grandmother’s house in the remote Honde Valley.

While it can be complicated, “it’s always worth it,” she says.

“It’s a big part of staying in touch with my roots, staying connected to who I am. It’s more than just sending groceries or money,” says Manhiri, 30. that I stay in touch with the most important person at home, which is my grandmother.

“It’s just so she knows that even though I’m away, I’m thinking about her upkeep and her well-being.” It’s a sentiment that became particularly prominent when Covid-19 stopped coming home.

The Zimbabwean diaspora – 3 million of whom live in neighboring South Africa – has for years helped keep the economy afloat and keep people from going hungry, often sending money through travel agencies. money transfer such as Mukuru, WorldRemit and Western Union. The central bank said diaspora remittances stood at $1.4bn (£1.06bn) last year, up from $1bn in 2020, defying expectations that the amount could drop during the pandemic.

But more and more people are choosing to send their groceries direct rather than cash, because it’s cheaper. Cooking oil, for example, costs $3.50 to send to someone in Zimbabwe and pay for from South Africa, while it costs $4.50 to buy it in Zimbabwe. And money transfer agencies such as Senditoo are branching out into grocery deliveries to meet demand.

Gamuchirai Mutume, 36, who lives in California, USA, finds online grocery shopping more efficient.

“Normally I go online, order groceries and pay. Buyers are so professional. If I order in the morning, they will be delivered in the afternoon. It’s a very good and efficient process,” she says. “I can take care of my family at home with ease.”

Her aunt, Juliet Mbofana, who lives in Norton, about 40 kilometers from Harare, says: “I always look forward to receiving groceries from my niece. They still deliver to homes, and that has been a big help during Covid-19.

Taking advantage of this increase in online deliveries, Simbisa Brands, which operates fast food restaurants across Africa, has developed a platform called InnBucks, which allows Zimbabweans around the world to buy lunch or dinner for their families. remained in the country.

For Aldrin Maimba, 36, a Zimbabwean living in Canada, buying his mother pizza every week keeps him in touch with his home and family. She orders, he pays directly from Toronto and the pizza is delivered.

“I miss my mom and know she still loves her Hawaiian pizza,” Maimba says. “So I use this app to buy pizzas and other treats to deliver to our house. It’s very efficient. I just want to keep her happy since she’s left alone at home.

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