A little-known start-up based in New York and run by a Jamaican, Marlon Willie, aims to take the hassle out of running errands in Jamaica for persons living overseas with local ties.
For persons based abroad, Mango Errands provides legs on the ground in Jamaica to complete menial and major tasks, such as getting an elderly relative to a doctor’s appointment and safely back home or buying back-to-school items for children, perhaps to avoid family members diverting well-needed funds to other tasks.
Fees for the service range from US$40 to US$50.
Born from Willie’s own need to take care of obligations in Jamaica while he studied in New York, Mango Errands began in January 2014 as Diaspora Errands but was rebranded in June to, Willie said, a more suitable name and with the addition of a few other services. Mango is a favorite Jamaican fruit.
Willie, who is from Spanish Town, St. Catherine, moved to the United States in 2008.
“While I was in college, I realised I still had a lot of business in Jamaica to tie up. You could ask your friends and family to do it and they will do it, when they can, but they have stuff doing. They have work and all that,” Willie told Wednesday Business.
“I found that as time progressed, if I asked for 10 things to be done, nine would be, then eight, then the number dwindled. They want to help but they can’t appreciate the urgency the way you do, because it’s you that’s in the situation.”
He said, too, that based on checks with friends and relatives, overseas Jamaicans were faced with relatives redirecting funds sent for particular purposes to cover other expenses, sometimes resulting in family feuds.
With other local companies offering courier services including bill payment, Mango Errands is attempting to eke out its own niche by adding medical, household errands and handyman services, among other things, which Willie says has given him an edge in the market.
“Let’s say you have an elderly relative in Jamaica who needs to go to the doctor, we set appointments; we have a person who would pick them up, take them to the appointment, and if you need, we will wait with them then we will take them back home. We will also fill the prescription,” he explained.
Read More from The Gleaner