Paying homage to sari-sari stores as a social and economic pillar of society, Raymund Erwin Rollan founded ‘Growsari’. The startup aims to make it easy for store owners to choose the items they want or need to sell, order them online, and just wait for the items to be delivered without the need to get out.
Sari-sari store owners can do all these things through the Growsari app and what’s even better is that the deliveries are free of charge. In turn, Growsari can order in bulk from the companies at a relatively lower price.
Rollan grew up in the Philippines and was able to work with global companies such as Procter and Gamble and Unilever. He said that their company recognizes the ability of the sari-sari stores to solve unemployment.
“Most importantly, it’s probably one of the few industries that allow store owners to create a meaningful synergy between being a businessman or businesswoman, a homemaker, and a person of influence in the community—all at the same time. This is unique to being a sari-sari store owner,” he added.
As a startup, Growsari intends to enable the sari-sari store to help fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) companies in the distribution of their products but to uplift the quality of life of their owners and the community that they serve.
However, gaining the trust of their client was not an easy feat. Rollan shared that some stores thought of them as a scam and refused to work with them.
“These store owners have hard-earned capital and they’re not going to risk it on just any other platform,” Rollan said.
So, during the onboarding of their first 100 stores, Rollan, together with his team, personally talked to the sari-sari store owners to explain their platform. They also did the grocery-picking by themselves when orders started to come in. To ensure that all orders are complete, they personally packed the items and deliver them to the store owners.
“We weren’t always successful in convincing them but it gave us a real insight into what happens on the ground,” he said.
Rollan’s team is currently in negotiations with other companies would be interested to tap into this platform. These companies include those which are engaged in e-commerce, logistics, other e-services, banks, and financial services.