Five companies using technology to deliver greater convenience to Kenyans
The increasingly busy lifestyles of Kenya’s consumer class is driving demand for greater convenience. Companies are responding to this need by leveraging the country’s relatively high internet and mobile penetration, estimated at 45% and 87% respectively. Nelly Murungi looks at five examples of technology-enabled services.
Traffic snarl-ups are a common occurrence in Kenya’s capital Nairobi, with peak hours especially chaotic. Ma3Route was borne out of this frustration. It gives users timely traffic updates through mobile, web and SMS platforms that crowdsources information on traffic flow, road conditions and accidents.
“It helps people make decisions on which roads not to take,” Stéphane Eboko, chief revenue officer at Ma3Route, said in an earlier interview with How we made it in Africa. “We have built a community where people talk to each other and trust the information shared. They are using text and landmarks to navigate [traffic] as opposed to maps, which is really vital in cities where not all roads are named.”
Ma3Route was founded in 2012 by tech entrepreneur Laban Okune. The service has over 600,000 followers on Twitter.
Kisafi is an on-demand laundry and home cleaning service based in Nairobi, founded by four partners out of the need to find a convenient and reliable way to get their laundry done. Through the Kisafi app, customers can specify which type of service they require: hand wash, machine wash or home cleaning. Laundry is picked up from the client, and returned within 48 hours. To tidy homes, professional cleaners are sent to the client’s residence.
The company defines its target market as the emerging affluent, who are willing to trade money for time. “They want to hang out with their family and friends, rather than stay at home doing four hours of cleaning. Now if that four hours is worth more than 750 [Kenyan shillings] to you, then by all means you will take up our services,” explained co-founder Felix Odunuga
Sendy is an Uber-like door-to-door delivery service available to both individual and business customers. Through the app or web platform, customers can request a network of drivers of all types of vehicles, including motorcycles, pickups, trucks, cabs and vans.
The company is currently piloting its SendyConnect service through which customers can save up to 40% by sharing a driver whose deliveries are on the same route.
The cost of the service starts from Ksh. 240 (about $3) and is based on distance, time of day, availability of drivers and dispatch fee. Customers can track their delivery’s journey and receive an SMS and email confirmation once it’s completed. Sendy was launched in 2014 and is available in the Kenyan cities of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kisumu and Thika.
Online shopping has given customers access to a wider variety of products from overseas e-commerce platforms such as Amazon and eBay. However, not all of the sellers on these stores ship to Kenya. This often meant that Kenyans had to ask acquaintances abroad to buy the products, and bring them back to Kenya on their next visit.
VituMob enables Kenyans to shop directly from these platforms and have the goods delivered to their doorstep. The company has partnered with over 20 online stores in the US and UK. Merchandise is first sent to VituMob’s warehouses in these countries, before being shipped to Kenya.
Users install VituMob on their Chrome browser and once they are done shopping from the partner sites, they have the option to check out via VituMob. A statement with the total cost and a breakdown of taxes, shipping and handling costs is then shown with the available payment options.
Jumia Food (previously Hello Food) is an online food ordering and delivery service. Over 100 restaurants in Nairobi are listed on the platform, together with user reviews and the estimated time of delivery. Restaurants can sign up on the platform free of charge, but pay a 20% commission for every order placed.