Home-made burger recipes born out of Kigali lockdown

Saturday July 10 2021
A customer displays his Ballistic Burger.

A customer displays his Ballistic Burger. PHOTO | COURTESY


When housemates, Richard, Paul and Phillip, like all Kigalians found themselves at home during the Covid lockdown last year, they spent time cooking and experimenting with different recipes across all cuisines in their small kitchen.

Richard Rusa has always been passionate about cooking, and had in the past learned some burger recipes, so one of the foods they experimented with were burgers, which they shared with friends.

They received rave reviews on the taste of their burgers and one of them advised the three housemates to consider making burgers as a business.

So on May 2, 2020, as the pandemic raged, Ballistic Burgers was born.

The burger bread and patties were made in their kitchen in a domestic oven, and sold to their network of friends. Today, the business is a fully-fledged fast food home delivery business, serving up to 3,000 customers a month in Kigali.

Ballistic Burgers identifies itself as a mobile fast food start up serving gourmet burgers, using locally grown ingredients — maize, lettuce, beef, vegetables, potatoes, onions and tomatoes — in a fusion of Western and African recipes.


Entrepreneurial journey

Rusa calls Ballistic Burgers an adventure, a story of many pandemic entrepreneurial journeys, which started in response to an unusual and universal phenomenon. It’s a story of survival.

Although Rusa has a tech product design background, and a tech innovator with a few market-used apps under his belt, he opted out of creating another e-commerce app for the business, and decided to leverage on an existing and widely used platform of WhatsApp.

Through WhatsApp, customers access a catalogue of burgers, place their orders, send directions, and in a few minutes a home delivery person calls you to open your gate and take your order.

Payment options include mobile money and point-of-sale with Visa and Mastercard, as the business joins many others opting for cashless transactions because of the coronavirus.

I found their catalogue on WhatsApp, offering more than five burger recipes — cheese burgers, crispy chicken, veggie — and I opted for the beef burger. I sent my order to the listed WhatsApp number and was instantly contacted to share my address via a digital pin.

I wanted to know how flexible the business is, in serving digitally illiterate customers, so I texted back and told them my phone was analog and could generate a location pin, but the person on the other end was open to receiving brick-and-mortar directions.

In 15 minutes, my order had been delivered by cheerful, young Fabien.

I was impressed by the branded packaging and the delivery motorcycles.

Ballistic Burgers riders.

Ballistic Burgers riders. The company, which has capacity to produce 1,000 burgers at any given time, is looking to expand beyond Kigali, targeting tourist hotspots and the emerging middle class. PHOTO | COURTESY

Their tag line, "Your taste buds will thank you," and I was not disappointed.

The chips were cut small and had the right crunchiness, just the way I like them. The beef burger was juicy with a natural beef aroma and taste, and the ketchup and mayonnaise mix had a potent garlic kick, one that stimulates the taste buds.