App allows Kenyans in diaspora to request crucial services back home – Capital Business

NAIROBI  Kenya, Mar 18 – Accessing service providers such as plumbers, cleaners, and electricians can be a daunting task for thousands of Kenyans living abroad.

The lack of digital innovation in these spaces means that for one to access such services, they will need a local assistant.

And this was a business opportunity that Roy Omollo saw after experiencing such drawbacks.

In one of the instances, Omollo wanted to connect power to his mother’s house, but he could not find anyone since he was residing in the USA.

“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 reckons.

“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,” he adds.

With a background in technology, Omollo started Msaada Opus, an online marketplace that allows people living in the diaspora request crucial services such as cleaning through a dial of a button.

To achieve, he partnered with Mercy Mbevi who had a background in finance to help ensure that the finances of the new business undertaking were in order.

The duo invested about Sh7 million of their savings into starting the business. It went into product development as well as operations.

Because they did not have a big budget to market the product across the country, they had to be very inventive and deliberate in their market entry strategy.

They therefore opted to partner with the YMCA of Kenya, which already had a membership of young professionals working in the targeted sectors.

This would make it easier to simply migrate the professionals onto the Msaada Opus platform.

They also partnered with Microsoft Hub to help them in both developing the product further and making 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 says.

“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.”

Before onboarding sellers onto the platform, they were subjected to vetting processes to ascertain their capacity to deliver.

According to the proprietors, people were excited about the platform because it was an easy way for them to make extra money.

Within three months since launching in August 2022, they had already managed to onboard about 1500 sellers onto the platform, under 25 different categories.

The firm has yet to start charging sellers to sign up for the platform, although they soon hope to start charging users a subscription fee once they have generated enough traffic to the platform.

Because they are currently relying on their own individual incomes to sustain operations of the company, the proprietors say they have not been able to scale as fast as they would like to and to efficiently operationalize the company.

They are open to funding partnerships to enable them to scale the business across Kenya and the larger East African region.

Jay Ndungu

Jay is a computer scientist and journalist with a passion for the intersection of technology and society. He has a background in computer science, developing a deep understanding of the technical aspects of the industry, including programming languages and software development methodologies. Currently, He writes for Nairobi Times, covering a wide range of topics including technology, politics, sports, and entertainment. With his unique combination of technical knowledge and journalistic experience, Jay brings a unique perspective to the stories he covers, able to explain complex technical concepts in an easy-to-understand manner. His work is dedicated to bridge the gap between technology and society, and to make people more aware of the potential of technology to make the world a better place.

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