Nigerian grocery void inspires Guelph entrepreneur to sell online
Bolatito Alawode started "My Chop Chop" online delivery service for Nigerian groceries
A Guelph woman is bringing authentic Nigerian groceries and foods to the doorsteps of Nigerians across Canada and the United States.
Before moving to the city, Bolatito Alawode recalls having to drive three hours each way just so she could shop for groceries in Toronto. Despite a community presence in her former home of Sarnia, Ont., there were no shops selling traditional Nigerian foods and cooking ingredients.
"So we moved to Guelph last year and then we started looking around for a Nigerian grocery store in Guelph, and there was none," she told The Morning Edition's Craig Norris.
That's when she started My Chop Chop, an online delivery service that ships Nigerian groceries, snacks and cooking accessories to shoppers in Canada and the U.S.
"[In] Guelph as well I asked people and they would say 'we go to Toronto for our shopping,'" said Alawode. "So I [know] this is a gap that needs to be filled."
For buyers outside of the province, Alawode only delivers dried goods like plantain flour, vegetables and some of the non-perishable items on the site like cooking accessories.
Closer to home, though, she is able to ship some Nigerian kitchen favourites like goat meat and smoked turkey.
Some other shopper food favourites include brown beans, cassava flour, and 'ofada rice,' a traditional brown rice.
A taste of home
But for Alawode, this is more than just a business.
For her and many other Nigerians in the diaspora, food brings the familiar comfort of their own culture; a way of staying connected to home.
She says when she and her husband decided to start a family, retaining their Nigerian and African heritage was top priority.
"We want to do this in our kitchen, in our values, in how we're bringing up our son," she said. "So making this food available at home is very very important to us."
It's not just Nigerians who benefit from Alawode's culinary passions.
She has a taste of Nigeria ready for anyone who comes into her home.
"Even when I have friends over, I cook for them, tell them what it is," she said.
With recipes and cooking suggestions on the website, My Chop Chop has also become a place for people of other backgrounds and nationalities who might want to try something new.
Alawode hopes to soon expand and include items from other African countries.