woman looking at produce

Food for the community’s soul

Elizabeth Akinsanya is making it easier to connect with small businesses and locally sourced products

28 November, 2023

When Elizabeth Akinsanya moved to Australia in 2019, she shopped at the big supermarkets like many Australians. As she settled and became more involved in the area through community service, she started to learn more about the idea of ‘shopping local’.  

“I kept hearing people talk about ‘supporting local’ and seeing ‘shop local’ stickers on windows. I decided to give supporting small businesses a try.” However, it didn’t come easily.  

Being a mum and working in community service, Elizabeth was time poor and found it difficult to go to multiple stores for her shopping. Then she had her lightbulb moment: “how would it look if I was able to shop with different food businesses in one single place?” 

And so, in 2020 the idea of Food Markies was born. The concept was to give the community the benefit of supporting local businesses with the convenience of being able to shop different vendors for a diverse range of products in one place – from fresh produce and frozen meals to international ingredients and artisanal products.  

Customers can browse the Food Markies website and see all available products across different local stores and checkout in one transaction. Vendors pay a commission for any sales made through Food Markies and utilise local delivery services to get their products out to consumers.  

Elizabeth hopes that her platform helps give these businesses more exposure. 

“In Australia it’s much easier to go straight to one of the big supermarkets and that puts small businesses at a disadvantage,” says Elizabeth. “I want to help small businesses band together and uplift each other as a group to create awareness and opportunities across the community.” 

Since then, Elizabeth been testing and improving her business to make sure it works well for shoppers, vendors, and local services that support the community.  

As of now, Food Markies is collaborating with 19 businesses, including farmers, chefs, a tea producer, food truck, organic food wholesaler, African food ingredient retailer, food charity shop, butcher, and flower nursery. 

Elizabeth Akinsanya with a customer

Elizabeth’s main challenge in starting Food Markies was understanding the Australian business terrain and culture. “I’m from a business background back in Nigeria and I understand what resonates with people and the kind of message that would get people’s attention there. It was a challenge to put that knowledge into the Australian context.”  

She believes that the support from the local community has helped her bridge that gap and motivated her to continue her work. “I’ve met a lot of good and helpful people who just want to see you succeed and give their best to making it happen. It’s because of them I’ve been able to get better insight into the community and their needs,” she says.  

That community core remains Elizabeth’s main focus for growth, with her hope being that her business creates a chain of local opportunities where people assist one another beyond just food products. “I see Food Markies becoming a platform where people are able to support more businesses and collectively enhance the well-being of our local area.” 

Elizabeth Akinsanya is the founder of Food Markies, operating in the Nowra and Shoalhaven region. 

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