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An online platform that enables Kenyans living and working abroad to request crucial services back homehas been launched.
Dubbed Msaada Opus, the online marketplace allows Kenyans in the diaspora to access service providers such as plumbers, caterers, cleaners, and electricians through a dial of a button.
Roy Omollo, the startup’s CEO, says he saw the business opportunity after experiencing challenges when he wanted to connect power to his mother’s house, but he could not find anyone since he was residing in the United States.
“Most of the time, people residing in the diaspora do not have the same connections to local plumbers, caterers, or electricians that people in Kenya have,” Omollo said.
“And because they are not online, you have to look for someone who has resided there for some time and ask them if they can give you a referral; otherwise, you could easily end up settling on someone who will short-change you.”
Omollo, who has a background in technology, partnered with Mercy Mbevi, who had a background in finance, and they jointly invested Sh7 million from their savings into starting the business. It went into product development as well as operations.
Due to financial constraints, the two decided to partner with the YMCA of Kenya, which already had a membership of young professionals working in the targeted sectors. This made it easier to simply migrate the professionals onto the Msaada Opus platform.
In addition, they partnered with Microsoft Hub to help them in developing the product further and make the user interface more marketable.
“We wanted our people to enjoy the same quality of service access and delivery that people in more advanced economies are enjoying,” the startup’s Chief Financial Officer Mbevi said.
“The platform would thus help to remove the struggle of finding, say, a ‘fundi’ that is qualified to implement a housing project that you may want done for your parents back home.”
Three months after its launch last August, the two had managed to onboard about 1,500 sellers onto the platform, under 25 different categories.
They are yet to start charging sellers to sign up on the platform, but they are planning to start charging users a subscription fee once they have generated enough traffic to the platform.
Omollo and Mbevi say they are open to funding partnerships to enable them to scale the business across Kenya and the larger East African region.
Those are basic questions you ask. Are they insured. If a Fundi in this platform suddenly disappears to oblivion, is there is an insurance like FDIC? How do they verify their vendors? This will be a playground for all sorts of fake vendors etc And and I foresee a whole lot of litigation in the near future. They better have a billion worth Liability insurance capped out
The real problem would be enforcing any contract while one is in USA,or out of the country. Unless you have reliable foot solders to do your"bidding".I guess what Iam saying is that,at times you just have to be there,and fundis know that one cannot be there every week.As you said, this creates a very fertile playground for unscrupulous vendors...ect.
Like I said the idea, is noble, to link 'fundi' with a diaspora client of customer, who is miles away,or has been burnt financialy by family and other relatives.I agree with you;it reeks of mischief.
I seriously doubt whether I will use this service or any other such service because the idea of disclosing my credit or ATM card details remotely to a person in Kenya scares me more than the devil.
Oh maxiley please...give people a benefit of the doubt! Give people a rest!
Give people praise when they reap a good harvest from their hard earned labour. Just like other new innovation, the product/invention will enter several stages of its development, one of which is the learning curve upon which any loopholes will be sealed, errors corrected and thus improving the overall functionality of the product.
My best wishes!
The problem isn't the platform but the people in Kenya. Including but not limited to who do you trust with your financial info, your ID, your details etc in Kenya. What recourse do you have when they rip you off? They know you won't be there to inspect the work so if you pay with M-Pesa, the money will be gone but the work won't be done. WaKenya wengi no wakora - forget that that at your peril.
Well said @ Mundumugo. I think Vic.B was just bent on attacking me for whatever reason.I certainly like the idea.like I said. The problem as you haveeloquently stated ,is about trust.That's all. Besides that, if the idea is good,it shall flourish whethere Iam for it or not.And that's agood thing.
Kulipa si shida, I like the idea
but without properly vetted bonded and licensed contractors in Kenya to deal with, you risk losing your hard earned money in short order
Oh Vic please, read my comment again. I love the idea.You probably have not dealt with fundis in Kenya.Granted even in USA its hard to trust fundis,but when dealing with someone miles away,there is that added risk of being absent.
What exactly dont you agree with in Maxiley's comment? I think he is asking basic questions.Dont you?
Err with our corrupt everything, I would never trust this - everyone will be an expert and thieves, killers etc in Kenya will ride on this .
This is avery good,and worthy idea.But as they say, the devil is in details. We all know that once a worker realizes that the client or customer is in diaspora,especially USA,or UK, the cost is trippled...
I know there are some honest ,and trustworthy FUNDIs,but sometimes matters of 'contract' are usually abit tricky when you are miles away.Your family back home may not have the wherewithal to "fight" unfulfilled contract.So does this service extend to legal search as well?