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Mzoori’s oﬃces in downtown Nairobi.
Selling trust before business
BY AAMERA JIWAJI s consumers retain their scepticism about online commerce, Kenyan businesses are innovating new ways in which to combat this apprehension and engender a culture of trust. Mzoori.com is the latest Kenyan online trading platform to woo Kenyan buyers and sellers onto a common ﬁeld. It works as a lead generation system that connects buyers and sellers, and in response to the hesitation by the Kenyan market to engage in an online commercial transaction, retains the oﬄine sale activity. Mzoori joins a burgeoning online business network which is most well known in Kenya through the daily deals and discounts website Rupu.com, which has recently indicated a transition in its business model to the establishment of a virtual shop for computers, shoes, phones and clothes.
| Nairobi Business Monthly January
Mogaka Mwencha, CEO of Mzoori
When Mzoori first entered the market, it adopted a virtual shop model but soon discovered that Kenyans were not comfortable clicking “Buy”, and that a sale required direct contact and tangible proof of the product. “People would come and look, and then go
away. They want to see the thing, hold it, and be sure the person they are dealing with is genuine,” said 34 year old CEO of Mzoori Mogaka Mwencha. Eighteen months of research and development later, he and his team developed a website that was better suited to the online shopping needs of Kenyans. “We realised that shoppers would come online, look for products or services that they’re interested in, contact the person who is selling it and then the transaction would happen. So we thought, what if we make money from connecting the buyer and the seller?” Mzoori currently lists clothing, shoes, handbags, books, furniture, electronics, kitchen appliances and cars. In 3 months, it has registered 500 shoppers and 10,000 products through 50 sellers, and a recent business valuation suggests that the business is already worth Sh10 million. Through Mzoori, when a buyer is interested in a product on Mzoori, the seller is alerted through an sms which shares the buyer’s particulars. This puts a seller in direct contact with his target market and oﬀers distinct advantages to mass media marketing. The seller is charged Sh10 per sms received.
20% of the businesses listed on Mzoori are individuals who run a part time business, while the rest are small enterprises eager to market their products. Uptake from bigger business has been slow, as the industry expresses scepticism about the viability of an online trading platform. However Mogaka is conﬁdent that with Text Book Centre having come on board and committed to country wide deliveries, other large businesses will soon follow. The innovative inclusion of sms technology, called “outcry”, to connect buyers and sellers on a real time basis allows Mzoori to capitalise on the growth of mobile phone usage by businesses. “Most people do not spend time on their computers, or on the internet waiting for an order but they always have their phone on them. And if you get an sms with an order, you react,” said Mogaka, whose passion for online business started as a college student at Virginia Tech in the United States. To assuage concerns that the Kenyan market continues to have about online commerce, Mzoori veriﬁes the authenticity of every seller by visiting their premises, and conﬁrming their KRA registration. However valid legal concerns as they relate to online trade have not yet been addressed by Kenyan legislature. For instance, the contractual obligation upon sellers to deliver items and take responsibility for the quality. In an attempt to combat this, Mzoori has taken on legal responsibility on behalf of its seller, such that the buyer can seek restitution from Mzoori. “If a complaint comes to us about a seller, we take it up with the seller on the buyer’s behalf and ensure that the money is refunded. Legally we would be absolved but because we want to maintain the buyer’s trust in Mzoori, we will help,” Mogaka said. With a full time staﬀ of eight based at the View Park Towers in central Nairobi, the young company currently operates in Nairobi but plans to roll out to the country’s other urban centres, and gradually reintroduce the Buy button to facilitate online transactions once it has gained the trust of shoppers and sellers. “If you look at the growth of these types of services like M-Pesa or Facebook, it’s very fast. So if you’re able to get something online the growth becomes exponential at some point, and we hope that will happen for us in the next 2 or 3 years,” Mogaka said.
7 steps to the perfect laptop
veryone has their preference when it comes to ﬁnding the perfect laptop. Some prefer the latest technology over aesthetic features, while others opt for one that ﬁts their budget or suitcase. Today, a number of speciﬁcations, new technologies and several form factors are available in Kenya – which make choosing the right laptop complicated. Below are some ways that help in picking the laptop that best suits individuality and mobile needs.
Size does matter
The screen size should also be kept in mind. An average screen size is usually 15.6”; ultra-portables fall below average size while most multimedia and desktop replacement notebooks measure just above average.
Needs determine performance
Certain speciﬁcations play an integral part in performance. One element to look out for is processor quality (CPU). The level of CPU will be determined by your requirements. If you are running a heavy application like 3D animation, a fast level of CPU must be considered. Regular programs like oﬃce applications require a normal CPU level. Those that are into gaming may especially prefer a dedicated graphics card for an enhanced experience. Some users may prefer to examine the weight and battery life of laptops. Recent reports state that laptops with LED backlight screens consume less battery power and give better colour deﬁnition. Laptop manufacturers meanwhile continue to raise the bar by providing new and innovative speciﬁcations in their latest models. Current models, for instance, oﬀer a huge storage capacity with a minimum of 250GB.
Local or international warranty is available on most laptops, and range from between one to three years. Many manufacturers also oﬀer the option to extend warranty on particular models. As a user, you should enquire about options available for future upgrades of hard drives, memory and internal expansion cards.
You must ﬁrst deﬁne the usage and functionality of the laptop. Will it be for multimedia purposes such as playing games, movies or music? Will you be using it for typing documents or surﬁng the net? Are you looking for a mobile companion to stay connected wherever you go? Will your new laptop be used in the oﬃce to run critical business applications? These are questions to consider when you’re thinking of getting the perfect notebook. Entry level or beginners can opt for a netbook – which will serve functions such as surﬁng the net and staying connected. Gamers may prefer bigger screens and high performing laptops while frequent travellers may opt for smaller screen sizes, lighter weight and maximum battery life.
After assessing all speciﬁcations, budget must be considered. A product with all the features may not ﬁt within the user’s budget so you will need to prioritise the features that are most important.
Know your brand
Choosing the right brand is also essential as this will determine reliability, service and quality. — By Erick Njuguna, Toshiba Regional Manager, East Africa
Feather or stone
Weight is an important aspect especially for users on the go. Mobile professionals may consider thin and light weight laptops, ultraportable laptops that weigh under 2 kilograms or less.
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