About Koja Market and how it all started
In 2017 one my friends was heavily pregnant and had a specific craving, but there was no African grocery store in Seattle to get what she wanted. That was how the idea of Koja Market came to me (Simi Ojo) and we launched it in 2020. Our ‘why’ has since gotten broader. Koja market is here to introduce locally sourced and produced African food, beverages and eventually body and home brands. We want to help brands back home get exposed to the international market as well as help them grow. This way they will eventually be able to hire more people and provide for their families. We want to play our part in helping to end poverty in Africa.
What it’s like creating an e-commerce platform that delivers Afro products and supplies
Creating an e-commerce platform was the easy part. Trying to find the brands back home was/is the hardest part. A lot of the smaller businesses are a bit harder to find due to their lack of online presence compared to the commercial brands that we stock. However, lately some have been reaching out to us and asking if we can carry their products. We also go into stores to see what’s new that our customers would be interested in. We are not an ‘everything-store,’ so this means we are particular about the brands that we carry. We pay attention to ingredients, shelf life, what these companies stand for as well as the branding of their products. Then we decide if they can be on the site.
We are proud to provide a service that makes lives easier
It is extremely costly to run an e-commerce grocery store. Especially now that we are looking to tackle marketing. We also faced and are still facing several barriers when it comes to stocking certain brands due to COVID-19. Running this kind of business is expensive, time/energy consuming, but also fun and rewarding. We are proud to provide a service that makes people’s lives easier. Koja Market is working towards a bigger goal that will eventually help people live a more fulfilling life. It’s a great learning experience for me to be able to visualize the different ways that I can make a change in the African community.
Our biggest challenge
The biggest challenge at this moment would be funding. I’m an immigrant living in America. Thankfully, I am able to work because I am a DACA recipient, it is still very hard to get funding. So all the cost to operate this company falls on me. It has definitely forced me to understand importance of proper bookkeeping in a business and to apply the things I learned in accounting about inventory.
We go the extra mile!
We are on a mission to eventually have locally sourced African brands, which is really amazing. We can’t also forget about our customer service. Customer service is a very important thing for Koja market. No happy customer equals no Koja Market. So we always go the extra mile.
Don’t be pressured to think about your competition
If you want to start this or any kind of business, have a why and stick to it! Don’t fold when it gets hard. Start small and don’t be pressured to think about your “competition.” More importantly, pray for direction. What works for others might not work for you.
Koja market is big on giving back to the community here and at home. Every six months, we donate 5% of our revenue to an NGO of our choice. The more you buy, the more we can give.
Kamoky was created to connect people with local Afro businesses and prosper the communities they identify with home and abroad. Calling all Afro businesses. Sign up today!