Interview with Ibrahim Agoro, Owner & Founder
Here at OjaExpress, we are passionate about connecting people with our incredible network of local ethnic grocers. As Chicago’s only online ethnic grocery delivery service, it’s our responsibility to provide easy access to the ingredients that bring the taste of home to your doorstep. We only work with local grocers, not big box chains, and our amazing partners are the best part of what we do!
We sat down with Ibrahim Agoro, the owner and founder of L’Afrique Market to learn a little about his business.
What is L’Afrique Market?
L’Afrique Market specializes in authentic, hard-to-find ingredients from Africa and the Caribbean, bringing them to Chicago’s south side. I opened L’Afrique on September 3, 2021 because there was a need for quality and authentic ingredients. I heard many residents and visitors expressing the desire for a local African store in this area, and decided to step up to fill that void. I combine our incredible selection of groceries with good service and a pleasant atmosphere with the warm feel of African hospitality. Our motto is “Motherland shopping experience,” and that’s what we really strive to provide our customers.
Why did you get into the grocery store business?
I realized that there’s an incredibly diverse community that isn’t having its needs met! There are so many people searching for culturally important ingredients with no good way to find them . There are also so many families in need, which is why we accept EBT, SNAP, or any government assistance program for low-income families.
What types of products are at L’Afrique? What are some of the popular items?
You’ll find fruits and vegetables, meat and dairy, spices and seasonings, beverages, packaged items, personal consideration items—we have everything! Some of our most popular items are:
Ghana Yams – Also known as Nigeria yams, this West African yam is often boiled, roasted, or fried. A popular way to prepare ghana yam is Iyan, a pounded yam dish. Yams contain many vitamins and minerals and are a great source of fiber.
Plantains – Plantains grow in almost every country of the world and have a special place in African cuisine. Each region has its own way of preparing plantains, and techniques range from boiling to frying to mashing.
Indomie – Looking for quick comfort food from home? We’ve got your favorite brand of instant noodles with a range of flavors. Curious why Indomie is so popular with the Nigerian community? Check out this article from Vice to learn more.
Agege bread – A popular Nigerian bread, agege can be eaten alone or combined with tea, beans, or egg sauce depending on your preferences and taste buds.
What are some unique groceries that you sell?
At Lafrique Market, we believe grocery shopping is more than an errand, and that’s why it’s our pledge to always go above and beyond. We think like the customer, not about the customer, which is why we provide unique groceries like snails, corned beef kilishi, sardines, and suya spice. These are just a few examples of the many unique groceries you’ll find on our shelves.
What is your favorite cultural dish to cook in your free time?
My favorite dishes are egusi, ofada rice, beans and plantains. Come on in to L’Afrique and you’ll find many recipes, using our grocery items, so you can prepare African food in the comfort of your home.
How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your business?
Opening a grocery store during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a challenge, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world! Sales ebb and flow, but we work hard to put in extra measures to make sure our customers can shop easily in-person or online.
What was the process like to get your store started with OjaExpress?
Getting started was an easy process, with many helpful resources!
How has your partnership with OjaExpress helped your store and community?
The first benefit has been increased sales. OjaExpress has brought new customers and helped us easily reach the right targeted and diversified audience. For Chicago residents, having a delivery option means that they don’t have to lug groceries from the other side of the city, a major task at any time but especially during the winter!
Thanks to Ibriahim Agoro and L’Afrique Market for speaking with us! If you’re interested in shopping their selection, click here. You can also follow L’Afrique on Instagram or contact them with any questions.
OjaExpress: Your Connection Point for Ethnic Grocery Stores in Chicago
Ready to order from L’Afrique and get ethnic grocery delivery in Chicago? You’re in the right place! We work with grocers from six unique communities (African/Caribbean, Indian, Middle Eastern, Asian, Hispanic, and European) so you can explore more locally-owned cultural grocery shops in our great city. Start shopping today!