Food bazaar operator mulls expanding in Visayas

Ehda M. Dagooc (The Freeman) - April 17, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines — Despite challenges faced by onsite food vendors under the new normal, the Let’s Eat Bai (LEB) Holdings Inc., the company behind Sugbo Mercado food bazaar and online food business platforms, bared plans to expand presence across Visayas.

This was announced by LEB managing director John Paul Chiongbian during the first year anniversary of LEB platform.

Chiongbian said the company will expand both online and onsite food bazaar businesses in Cagayan de Oro, Iloilo, Dumaguete and other major cities in the Visayas bringing the successful food bazaar platform in these cities amid the pandemic.

From a purely onsite food bazaar, the  company now has multiple platforms to help micro food entrepreneurs thrive in the new normal including LEB online delivery services, LEB Certified Vendors Program, LEB Mobile App.

Soon, small food vendors in different cities in the Visayas will be able to avail of these platforms to thrive and strengthen their brands in these trying times.

Chiongbian said onsite food consumer traffic is improving, although fluctuating, considering the COVID-19 threat is still active. However, the LEB community is growing since it was launched last year right after the lockdown was declared in Cebu on March 2020.

Chiongbian expressed confidence of the sustained food bazaar business, saying consumers and vendors have easily adapted to the new normal, wherein business transactions are done both online and onsite.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, LEB was a private Facebook group to discuss food trends and the up-and coming restaurants in Cebu. Over time, it became Cebu’s biggest and most engaged food community with more than 120,000 members.

During the lockdown, the demand for food delivery services grew with more Cebuanos opting to stay and dine at home. In response, LEB shifted to a digital marketplace to support food entrepreneurs open businesses and sell their products online, Chiongbian said.

As it turns one, LEB boosts its entrepreneurial ecosystem and unveils more platforms to help support Cebuano food entrepreneurs as they learn, grow and expand their business.

The Certified Vendors Program is at the forefront of LEB’s platforms. The program, which is open to all who are part of the LEB Facebook Group, aims to help entrepreneurs build their brand, expand their reach and build a self-sustaining business. It allows members to avail of exclusive benefits and services like a spot on its online food directory, content marketing, online promotions, and influencer marketing.

The Certified Vendors Program also unlocks access to other LEB platforms, such as the LEB Mobile App that will help entrepreneurs gain experience in operating online and onsite.

Likewise, the LEB Mobile app, the first homegrown food and delivery service application in Cebu enables entrepreneurs to go digital with competitive rates in food and delivery. Users can download LEB Mobile on the App Store or Google Play.

The app currently has over 60 merchants and operates in Cebu City, Mandaue City, Talisay City, and Consolacion. It will also serve Lapu-Lapu City and Liloan soon.

The LEB Mobile App is composed of home-based and homegrown start-up entrepreneurs with food institutions from the Let’s Eat Bai community. This platform, developed by locals for Cebu, unites the community to support the Cebuano entrepreneurs and riders from different municipalities.

As it looks beyond its first year, LEB continues to expand and innovate to accommodate more businesses and cater to the growing community as their needs continue to evolve and grow as circumstances change.

Moreover, LEB is slated to open its own 150 sq. m Cloud Kitchen later this year at Taft East Gate. It will serve as a centralized facility for Certified Vendors who need a space for faster and seamless food production and delivery as they expand their business beyond home.

Certified Vendors will also be able to set up shop at a minimal cost at Cebu’s biggest food market, Sugbo Mercado and the soon-to-open Let’s Eat Bai Food Hub at Ayala Center Cebu and SM City Cebu.

These sites will serve as incubator venues to help start-up entrepreneurs gain experience before putting their own standalone venue and go into franchising or company-owned expansion.

“The growing Let’s Eat Bai community is a testament to Cebuanos’ strong entrepreneurial spirit amid limitations brought by the pandemic. LEB continues to serve as a partner for Cebuano food entrepreneurs as they create their brand, scale-up and expand into a self-sustaining business,” Chiongbian added.

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