Category Archives: SME solutions

Microsoft Insiders4Good East Africa

The Microsoft Insider Program connects the world’s largest community of people using technology to make a lasting impact on the world. The #Insiders4Good East Africa fellows were announced on Thursday along with the the concepts they are working on:

  • Mensa Healthcare – Nairobi, Kenya (smartcard-based system enables the centralized storage of digital records for patients and hospitals)
  • Chanjo Plus – Nairobi, Kenya (helps parents keep track of their children’s vaccination schedules and aggregates vaccine supplies)
  • ClinicPesa – Kampala, Uganda (enables individuals to conveniently set aside funds for future health services through their mobile phones.)
  • Kids Comp Camp – Nairobi, Kenya (a coding and ICT training unit aimed at helping youth in tech-scarce areas gain computer skills and enhance their employability)
  • Sahibu – Nairobi, Kenya (offers refugees in camps an SMS platform to connect with each other, share stories and access crucial information)
  • Spurred – Nairobi, Kenya (convenient way for customers to contribute a portion of their points from loyalty programs towards the humanitarian projects)
  • Infoshule – Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania (enables parents to access the academic records at any time, message teachers, and use mobile payments for school fees)
  • Worknasi.com – Dar es salaam, Tanzania (connects startups and freelancers with businesses and office owners who want to share their working spaces and meeting rooms)
  • IV Drip Alert – Kigali, Rwanda (enables nurses to more easily manage intravenous fluids through a wireless alert system)
  • mobScore – Arusha, Tanzania (produces reliable credit scores by analyzing user data from mobile banking and enables Tanzanians to secure affordable loans).
  • Lyons Analytics – Nairobi, Kenya (will develop a system that uses machine learning to track the progression of breast cancer from onset to late stages)
  • Ivomerere – Kigali, Rwanda (enables farmers to manage their watering systems automatically)
  • Sophie Bot – Nairobi, Kenya (an artificial intelligence persona that answers questions about sexual health, providing private, curated, and verified information.)
  • SchoolMaster Solutions – Kampala, Uganda (enables East African schools to use efficient digital systems to manage records and reduce personnel time as result)
  • Mega Gas – Hamisi, Kenya (refines unsorted polythene/plastic waste into clean cooking gas through a process that creates no emissions, residue, or pollution)
  • Mtaalamu Group Limited – Nairobi, Kenya (connects tailors to customers through reviews, a portal, and profile and search functions.)
  • SMART Insider Cheetahs – Nairobi, Kenya (affordable internet to rural and remote areas serving schools, lodges, police stations, and medical centers.)
  • KRHF Managed Telemedicine Hub – Ibanda, Uganda (provides rural clinics with remote access to services of qualified medical professionals)
  • Gawana – Nairobi, Kenya (a ridesharing platform that enables travelers to share long distance journeys and split the cost of fuel)
  • Fem Care – Bweyogerere, Uganda (a phone-like device that provides women with verified information about maternal and child health, in their own language)
  • Azali of (Mayol Ltd) – Nairobi, Kenya (Azali connects borrowers to a multitude of lenders, including small lenders like chamas and SACCOs)

Kenya Markets & Agriculture Pricing of Maize, Potatoes, and Milk

What drives the agriculture pricing of maize, potatoes, and milk in Kenya? Part I of a post by  @kwambokalinda of M-Farm

In commercial agriculture, as in any business venture, the aim is to make a profit on an investment, within the environmental and policy framework available for the sector. It is, however, not in question that there exist unsavoury practices practically the world over. Recent potato, maize and milk shortages in the weeks between March 2017 and the present day illustrate as much.

That said, it is pertinent that fault is placed where it lies, and speaking to traders in the Kenyan potato, milk and maize value chains, it was gathered that low rainfall in November 2016, as well as with the rains in April, led to price fluctuations in the weeks after February 2017. Mitigating circumstances lowered prices during the same period, when traders sourced their produce in areas that had rainfall in November 2016, such as;

  • In the case of potatoes, this included Narok and Mau Narok, which are blessed with forest rains and fertile lands in Tanzania.
  • With milk, rains in April meant that costs to access to main roads went up – and with farmers unable or unwilling to ease traders’ burden, the costs are being transferred on to consumers.
  • As for maize, a 90-kilo bag which a farmer sold at Kshs 2,200 in December, had doubled by March 2017: Meanwhile, millers have been consistently buying the maize at Kshs 4,700 per bag

We have to remember to factor such matters into our plans and budgets as Kenyans. Also, we have learned that it takes the government a lengthy period to act or even plan for such occurrences. It would help to have neutral sources of data alongside that of the government to help shape the response to food security challenges in Kenya.

See also, Secrets of a Farm Middle Man 

$1 = Khs 103

Standard Chartered Kenya launches Video Banking

Standard Chartered launched video banking in Nairobi today. Already used in Asia, Kenya will become the first of their banks in Africa to roll out the service to its customers.

Standard Charted is currently Kenya’s 5th largest bank by assets, and has been in the country since 1911 and serves retail, corporate and institutional clients. CEO Lamin Manjang spoke of their “digital by design” investments, in which they use technology to enhance customer experiences while improving on the banks’ cost efficiency. He said “ Almost all transaction done at the branches are available through other means” and listed recent innovations they have done including – upgraded their platform, a new mobile banking app, fingerprint login, ATM’s that accept cash deposit ATM, and now video banking.

Whether in Singapore or Malindi, customers will be able to have secure video chats with agents located at the banks’ headquarters in Chiromo, Nairobi, share screens, exchange documents, do their banking and get advice, especially on investment and wealth management products and services. It is available to all customers, Monday to Friday from 9 a. to 6 p.m. Video banking is currently only on desktop computers, but they plan to extend it to mobile devices in the future.

The chief guest was the country’s  Cabinet Secretary for Information, Communications and Technology , Joe Mucheru, who spoke on the government’s new cyber security bill as he urged banks and companies to invest in backups of critical data, upgrade their operating systems and anti-virus software and use of cloud services. “If you’ve gone through the agony of ransomware, investing in backups is not a big issue.”

Simplifying M-Pesa Payments with 1Tap

As they announced their 2017 financial results today, Safaricom also unveiled 1Tap – the next step of innovation to drive increased financial inclusion in Keyna.

M-Pesa is ten years old and CEO Bob Collymore said that Safaricom was launching “Mpesa 1 tap”  which would reduce the number of steps to complete an M-Pesa transaction, currently about 8 steps on SMS and USSD, to just 1 step.

At the result announcement, the Safaricom CFO Sateesh Kamath said that while 75% of M-Pesa revenue was from traditional person to person transfers, 25% was new from new business like “Lipa na Mpesa” (pay with M-pesa) payments.

Buy Goods is free for customers, except at petrol stations which levy an additional charge, and just over a month ago, Safaricom announced a 50% tariff reduction for all Lipa Na M-PESA Buy Goods merchant fees – to 0.5% of the transaction amount. These were also was capped to Kshs 200 for any payments over Kshs 40,000 (~$400) while payments to merchants below Kshs 200 were made free. Lipa Na M-pesa is used by over 50,000 merchants and Safaricom plans to enable more kiosks, boda-bodas, newspaper vendors and other merchants who are in the informal sector where 80% of Kenyan work to receive such vital business payments at no cost.

Merchants can also get instant payments into their bank accounts at any of 23 partner banks (of the 40 banks in Kenya) from a Lipa Na M-pesa menu in their phones in just a few seconds – and this is useful as many of the merchants don’t have time to go to the bank to deposit cash.

With 1 Tap, all a customer needs to do is tap their cards on the mobile POS machines and then enter their secret M-Pesa PIN to confirm the transaction. Pilot testing for Mpesa 1 Tap has been ongoing in Nakuru where the service now has 13,000 customers and 900 merchants. Kenyans briefly got to see what NFC could work with the Beba Pay service a few years ago, with payments in public service vehicles.

Caritas MFI Bank Launched

Thursday saw the official launch of the Caritas Microfinance (MFI) Bank in Nairobi. Caritas MFB,  which is owned by the Catholic Archdiocese of Nairobi, was licensed by the Central Bank of Kenya in June 2015. It has since mobilized almost Kshs 400 million in deposits and advanced Kshs 250 million of loans.

Caritas plans to go from having two branches, now serving 10,000 customers, to five by year-end and increase its authorized agent network from 16 to 50. Already 70% transactions are done using mobile banking and through a partnership with Cooperative Bank, Caritas customers can use Coop Bank ATM’s and visa cards for purchases and this will enable another potential 100,000 “unbanked and under-banked” members of 200 self-help groups in Nairobi and Kiambu counties to access formal banking services.

MFI’s were excluded from the interest cap law of 2016. Other deposit-taking microfinance bank institutions include Choice, Daraja, Ideal (formerly REMU), Maisha, SMEP, Sumac, U&I, and Uwezo. Larger ones include KWFT and Faulu  as well as the Chase Bank-owned Rafiki MFI that was quite large and growing fast. It is independent of Chase Bank but a lot of its future growth is dependent on the outcome of the Chase receivership.