Meet the Soweto entrepreneur behind uBeer Phuza, a new liquor-only delivery app

uBeer Phuza app targets taverns and bottle stores. (Supplied)

uBeer Phuza app targets taverns and bottle stores. (Supplied)

  • A new liquor-only delivery app has just been launched in South Africa by a Soweto-bred entrepreneur. 
  • The tech start-up is looking to tap into the untouched tavern and bottle store market. 
  • It mainly targets consumers in South Africa’s biggest metros and surrounding areas, such as townships where mainstream delivery apps are not accessible.
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When it comes to digital transformation, local taverns, shebeens, and bottle stores tend to be forgotten; but Sibusiso Nkosi, a Soweto bred-entrepreneur, wants to change that with his newly launched liquor delivery app, uBeer Phuza.

The new online liquor ordering and delivery platform allows users to order a wide range of liquor products from nearby taverns, bottle stores, and restaurants typically not listed on more mainstream delivery apps such as UberEats and Mr. D.

Although only launched this month, Nkosi’s initial idea for the liquor delivery app came about in 2020, during the infancy of the coronavirus pandemic when South Africa was forced to instate hard lockdowns. It became apparent during the time just how significantly underserved and untouched by digital advances the bottle stores and tavern market was, partly because of a lack of resources, Nkosi said.

“The challenge was; the big supermarket stores, the likes of Checkers and others, they have their own apps, but then our local bottle stores and taverns are struggling. To build this kind of app is a tedious job, and they don’t have that kind of muscle, to be honest,” Nkosi said.

Nkosi, who has worked in the advertising industry for 15 years, started developing the app, all self-funded, and came up with its prototype last year and began piloting it towards the end of the year.

During the trial phase, bottle stores and taverns expressed their need for the delivery service, citing that it would supplement declining footfall that has not fully recovered since the lockdown restrictions that kept patrons away.

Pronounced as ‘u-bhi-ya’, its name is derived from the English word beer, commonly borrowed by Nguni speakers and others. But the name was chosen with intention and has a strong association in the South African context, Nkosi said.

“As a creative, I wanted a name that will easily resonate with everyone,” Nkosi said. The liquor app is live in various cities and surrounding areas and townships in the country, including Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, Mangaung, and others. The algorithm is built to link users to vendors nearby.

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