In this article, we will introduce 4 of the most promising Kenyan startups from the Savannah Fund, a fund that invests in startups from the East African community. Founded by Mbwana Alliy, the Savannah Fund operating from Nairobi currently has 9 startups in portfolio and can be found here.
#1 – Zatiti, “Powering mobile e-commerce”
Zatitti is a web platform that allows any business to create an online presence through their own e-commerce website. It is clear that there is a large market for such a service. Although a recent survey revealed that 81% of sellers in Kenya are looking for a mobile e-commerce solution, coders and developers are hard to find. As a result, it is extremely cost-ineffective for small-medium businesses to develop an e-commerce website.
Clients are not required to have any technical experiences whatsoever, as Zatiti handles everything from setting up the e-commerce platform to designing a customized theme for the platform that appropriately reflects the nature of the client’s product. Clients can easily update their platforms with Zatiti’s mobile e-commerce website builder that comes with a content management system (CMS). The attention to mobile optimization is particularly useful given that 98% of Kenyans access the web through mobile devices.
To ensure its sustainability, Zatiti has several revenue streams:
- A 2% transaction fee
- A monthly subscription fee (depending on type of plan)
- Premium templates
- Increased storage space
- Increased product variety
Zatiti is also acutely aware of the demands of its local market. Its platform accepts Mpesa payments, therefore allowing for an ease of transactions as revenue is channeled directly into the client’s bank account. Zatiti’s founders are currently aiming to gain 10,000 clients in Kenya as well as expand into 9 other African countries by the end of 2015.
Meet the team!
#2 – Zished, “Celebrate special moments in Africa”
Zished is a Ghanaian online gifting startup that hopes to streamline the current complicated process that diasporas currently face when attempting to send gifts to their loved ones back home.
Under the current process, one must first find a trusted friend back home that can help purchase and deliver the gift. This can be especially difficult, given that I barely trust my friends to buy snack food for me and expect it unopened. You must then wire money to your friend, who then needs to travel to collect the money, buy the gift and finally to deliver the gift to the loved one.
Under Zished, you can purchase a wide selection of gifts online, from cakes to flowers and balloons, which will then be delivered to the address of your choice. Zished works with many local merchants to ensure a wide selection of choice. Amusingly, Zished even takes a photograph of your loved ones reaction, so as to ensure that you get all the benefits of your gift.
The benefit of Zished is that it cuts down on intermediates and links the gift directly to a delivery network. With an aesthetically smooth and clean website, Zished is not only easy on the eye but also easy to use. In the near future, Zished founders hope to implement a voucher system that can be used to send a much wider range of gifts, products and even services.
In Ghana itself, there are 310k diasporans with 93k potential users, with an average age of 18-34. As large as this market base may be, Zished is looking even further than that, hoping to target the 169m African diaspora around the world. This represents a large potential market, especially when we consider that many Africans typically do give back to their homelands; remittances are to the tune of $51 billion.
Of course, Zished also faces obstacles when it comes to managing its logistical fleet. However, this is not a unique obstacle and one that many established e-commerce platforms like Amazon have solved. Zished is currently in talks to collaborate with a local tech logistics company to help mitigate logistical problems.
Meet the team!
#3 – Instaid, “Send Food & Medical Aid instantly”
Instaid is a tech startup that allows organizations to create, manage and distribute medical & nutritional e-vouchers on mobile platforms. In Africa, a land of significant food insecurity, corruption is an unavoidable way of life. During various crises, or even in the course of the day-to-day life, the distribution of physical aid & food faces huge problems. These shipments suffer huge losses along the road with only $3.5bn out of $17.4bn of aid in Africa reaching their intended beneficiaries. The current alternative to physical aid, redeemable paper vouchers also have a low reach, helping only 33% of its beneficiaries.
As such, Instaid has set up an online portal that allows for the purchase and distribution of electronic vouchers. Beneficiaries who have received the e-vouchers can exchange them with selected service providers. This significantly increases the security of vouchers, ensuring that various provisions reach their intended recipients while reducing logistical costs. At the same time, aid organizations have access to a wide range of useful data that allows them to track voucher redemption and payment rates through Instaid’s dashboard interface.
Instaid sustains itself through its revenue by charging set-up fees, maintenance fees as well as a transaction fee.
Instaid currently has over 10,000 beneficiaries, and is currently aiming to expand to reach 5 organizations & 50,000 beneficiaries by 2015.
Meet the team!
#4 – Inforex, “A Forex bureau networking system”
Inforex is a Ugandan platform that gathers financial forex exchange information on one single platform. Inforex creates a system that allows institutions to view changes in forex rates between forex bureaus in real time. Inforex thus provides better visibility on rates without a need for “scouts”, helping to fill an information vacuum where the price difference for a single forex request can be be more than $100.
By introducing a more efficient digitization of the forex market, Inforex helps to build a smoother economic climate for forex bureaus as well as private individuals. Through the platform, institutions are privy to the latest fluctuation of the currency in the international and local markets. Forex bureaus are also able to communicate through the platform, allowing for a more streamlined business process.
Currently, Inforex has grown by expanding in the Ugandan market, not a small market, with $8bn of Forex deals in Uganda alone. Inforex has been quite successful in this market. More than 36% of Ugandan forex bureaus have now become their client and they have had more than US$646,000 in inter-bureau trade. It plans to expand to the more than 680 forex bureaus in East Africa and looks well poised to do so.
Inforex is currently looking to build a mobile app to take advantage of the large mobile infrastructure as well as to obtain partnerships with institutions and associations of various forex bureaus.
Meet the team!
If you like seeing startups from the BRICS countries, do find out what are the top 5 big startups from China, Brazil, India, Russia and South Africa here!