Startup101I have had the opportunity to watch and participate as the technology ecosystem in Kenya and Africa at large finds its feet and interacted with the driven people invested in different ways to build this out. The personification of this progress is the different hubs, labs and accelerators all working towards finding the secret sauce towards a sustainable innovation pipeline that will ensure the output of entrepreneurial ventures or birth of products and services that have a sizable impact whether in the social front or from a pure profit perspective. Continue Reading…

Three days to the much anticipated Saba Saba date (7th July 2014) millions of mobile consumers received a message from the Inter Religious Council of Kenya approved by the Communications Authority. The lash back on social media was expected but in my opinion misdirected as most of the “feedback” was laced with emotion due to the historical and current sensitivities surrounding the date. It does however offer the opportunity to dissect best practice when it comes to the mobile channel with education to consumers, businesses and even government as an imperative. Life is indeed mobile, with the device having become part of our daily lives. For any intrusion into this life to be tolerated; it must be anticipated and approved making consumer onboarding the most important element of any mobile strategy. Continue Reading…

The beginning of July was to mark yet another milestone, arguably a world first with the switch-over of Kenya’s mass transit systems into cashless mode. But with the public nonchalant about the whole affair points out a disturbing trend that highlights weaknesses in our local technology transfer and adoption process.

The banking sector saw the Kenya Bankers’ Association set a migration deadline of March 2014, thereafter moved to May 2014, to the more secure chip and pin technology for credit and debit cards used in the market in a bid to stem fraud.

On the broadcast front, the move from analog to digital has also suffered its fair share of setbacks. The Court of Appeal in December 2013 stopped the process for 45 days pending determination of a dispute on February 2014 with a September 2014 timeline given thereafter. Not accounting for the court battles between the regulator and broadcasting houses, it has been evident that the larger population, though aware of the process have not warmed up as expected.   Continue Reading…

Small and Medium sized enterprises the world over are backbone of the economy yet many times have the odds stacked against them on many fronts. Big enterprises often have a technology arsenal at their disposal whether playing in agriculture, manufacturing and even services. In this arsenal you will find Enterprise Resource Planning platforms, Customer Relationship Management portals among others, unique to the industry. The total cost of ownership has been very prohibitive in the past with vendors such as Oracle, Sales Force and SAP creaming the market on deployment and annual license fees. Continue Reading…

I have been mulling over what would be the best organizational structure to help us realize the digital divided that we have been singing about since the announcement of the landing of the various fibre optic cables. The reason is, I find us focusing on the big picture that we forget implementation is best done granular with a buildup guided by the big picture, not forgetting the critical buy-in by the invested parties for real progress to be made. Continue Reading…

An addressable market of over 30 million is sure to attract the attention of many entrepreneurs, and indeed it has. The mobile value added service industry in Kenya generates billions in gross revenue annually, making bank for mobile operators, licensed providers and third parties who leverage connectivity infrastructure offered by the providers.

The nature of the business model is revenue share, meaning on any given transaction revenues are split either two or three ways with a bulk of the revenue for many services going the operator’s way based on the cascading volume model adopted.   Continue Reading…

Seven odd years ago, when I was officially starting my own entrepreneurial journey in Kenya the tech startup ecosystem was virtually nonexistent. Coming from a first-hand start up experience before taking a break for school, the trenches were a rough place and venturing out to start a technology centered business – think web and mobile, was a real gamble.

At the turn of the decade things had changed somewhat and there was buzz created by the promise of a connected continent with plans for multiple fibre optic cables sounded from East, South and West. This ushered a generation of tinkerers, building on top of API sets that were readily available; in countries like Kenya, initiatives such as open data fueled the building frenzy of what in hind sight can be called “vanity apps” that followed the naming craze of appending the prefix “M” for mobile to the resultant service or product. Good efforts but by and large useless at addressing the real needs and market opportunities present. Lest some circles bay for blood, tinkering is part of the process; learning adapting and pushing the boundaries of what we knew of thought possible, refining the models both of knowledge transfer and business. Continue Reading…

The late Carey Eaton, Co-Founder One Africa Media talks about: the online brands it has set up or bought; where it is the dominant player; its business model; its competitors; where it plans to expand and its investment from Tiger Global.

Key Quotes

  • “We are the largest online classifieds business in Africa, operating in the verticals of travel, jobs, cars and real estate in about 8 attractive countries on the continent.”
  • “We have i billion page impressions a year and will reach 30-40 million unique users this year.”
  • Business model? They are all slightly different but revolve around advertising and value added services.”

The recent adverts running in the press painting a picture of the possibilities once the government is done with the installation and deployment of the world-class surveillance system, down to the futuristic looking command center has drawn mixed reactions. Some sight it as an “overkill knee jerk reaction” with the makings of a white elephant and others remain resigned, not able to grasp the workings of it and frankly not concerned as the immediate “benefit” is lost to them.

The adoption of technology is a challenge across both the public and private sectors. The rollout of any said tech must be well thought out with all publics kept in the loop on expectations, benefits and timelines. Akin to weaning a baby, government must ensure that the use of simple, easily digestible technology with immediate benefit and low learning curves takes precedence in its service delivery pipeline. Continue Reading…

Business process outscoring has a bad rep around these parts, having been the “failed” poster child for Kenya’s entry into the digital knowledge space. Government agencies such as the ICT Authority of Kenya had bold dreams of hiving off market share from regions such as India that for decades have creamed a large percentage of the global outsourcing business whether on software development or the customer service cum support side. This saw huge investments into the then greenfield opportunity with entrepreneurs putting up call centers – the definitive interpretation of BPO then, backed, perhaps blindly by the mantra build it and they will come. A mix of circumstances led to what I consider an epic fail that saw only a handful of ventures escape the dead pool and achieve a descent level of sustainability in what is obviously a very volatile and unpredictable market if gauged from the original market sizing and opportunity description. Continue Reading…