Until recently, many African travelers found it extremely difficult to send goods to their relatives back home. Sometimes they’d wait to find someone traveling to their country of birth so as to send goods to their relatives via the traveler.
Over the years, this informal way of bringing home goods to relatives proved to be not only unsustainable but risky. Some returnees who have been asked to deliver goods to the senders’ relatives end up absconding with the goods.
Osinachi Ukomadu decided to formalize the process, resulting in the establishment of Heroshe. When he first migrated to the United States, he received several requests from family and friends who needed his assistance to buy goods from the United States.
First, he saw the request as merely rendering a service to family and friends although he received a “token” for his service. However, demand for his day job increased, and catering to the increasing demand from people led him to charge more for his service and people were willing to pay for the extra charges to his surprise.
He, then, decided to turn this informal business into a ‘proper’ startup and launched Heroshe in 2019. The company helps Nigerians safely shop from e-commerce stores in the United States and have their purchases delivered to Nigeria. The primary focus of Heroshe is to simplify e-commerce between Nigeria and America via logistics, access and payments.
“[It was] a viable opportunity to help more people essentially get their businesses started, source for products in the U.S. and access U.S. markets — without the expensive costs or the overly complicated way that it was being done before,” Ukomadu told bizjournal.
Heroshe has evolved from assisting family and friends in Nigeria to buy goods in the U.S. to becoming one of the fastest growing startups with 40,000 customers using modern technology to revolutionize e-commerce transactions.
It also has some 25 employees in the U.S., Nigeria and other locations with remote workers. In addition, the company has an office in Lagos and warehouse space in Houston for shipment fulfillment.
For now, Heroshe is focused on business between the U.S. and Nigerian markets but Ukomadu is optimistic about expanding to other markets in Africa. He first wants to expand to West Africa before turning his attention to the markets in the east, south and north African regions.
Born and raised in Abia state, Ukomadu grew up in different parts of Nigeria and later left the country with his family for the United States. He completed his high school and university education there. His first company was a home health services company which did millions of dollars in revenue before he left to pursue other interests.