Ziada (formerly Kazi App), a start-up launch tale.
Article by: Massimo Fascinari
March 8, 2020
Annabel Angewenyi is the co-founder at Kazi App, a young and inspiring entrepreneur from Nairobi - Kenya. Annabel spent the last three years in incubating her start-up and she is days away to finally launch it. I met Annabel few months ago as we have been “matched” in the Mentoring Women in Business Programme from the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women cherieblairfoundation.org. Since then me and Annabel have been having meaningful conversation on business and technology.
I am interviewing today Annabel to capture her emotions and ambitions while she is waiting to finalize the last steps of the Kazi App https://kaziapp.co.ke/ Google Play certification.
“Good day Annabel and Happy International Woman Day! Would you mind to tell us what Kazi is?”
Good day Massimo and Happy Intenational Woman Day to you All! Of course, Kazi is a mobile app that seeks to best match service providers with consumers searching for them in their vicinity. We seek to do this as simply, conveniently and sustainable as possible without disrupting the autonomy that a lot of business owners value when becoming entrepreneurs.
“How the KAZI idea got started, and when?”
About three years ago, there was a period where for 3 consecutive weekends my boyfriend's car refused to start just as he was heading back home after a full day of errands when the car was running perfectly fine before. We'd call our usual mechanic, Njoro, and he'd tell us that he was unavailable till the next day. We were, however, sure that there must be a mechanic close to us willing and able to diagnose the problem but were getting increasingly frustrated that there was no way for both parties to link up and have both our needs met.
For a couple of months after, we kept encountering similar situations like a broken chair with no access to a carpenter and a leaky sink that forced us to become Youtube certified plumbers all the while actively listening to the same frustrations from friends and family.
That is when we switched from, 'Someone should make an app that solves this problem', to maybe WE should consider contributing to the solving of this problem.
“Three years seems to be a long period, what are the lessons learned?”
There are times when I think that three years is a long time and other times that I think it isn't. I look back at how we started, from a point of utter cluelessness to having one iteration on the PlayStore in 2017 that though not successful under the usual metrics, was an invaluable lesson and provided a crash course on what to do on our second try. We've also been entirely self funded and this meant that we moved at a pace that we could afford resources.
“What is your background, how did you arrive to Kazi?”
I have a bachelor's degree in Actuarial Science that I followed up with numerous Project Management courses. My strengths and the majority of my experience is in finance, operations, and compliance and those are the roles that I continue to lead at Kazi.
"So are we all set? Is this the 'finished' version of Kazi App?”
This is our minimum viable product MVP. There is no more such concept of “finished” product. Business is an infinite game and we fully embrace this philosophy.
We want to go live to start engaging with our consumer and service providers. We want to understand and improve their experience, giving them the opportunity in participating in the ecosystem and creating value. We are not after perfection, we want to learn from our users every day, improve, and iterate to fit the users needs.
“How do you feel? You are hours away from discover if it was worth it. On the other end embracing the “unfinished” product mindset… it looks to me we are just at the begin of a new journey”
I'm equal parts nervous and excited. I realize that there's only so much we can change without actually having the product out and hearing back from the users. We're definitely at the cusp of the next phase of our journey and I'm looking forward to listening to what our users will say.
"And what about being a woman? How do you find being a woman entrepreneur in Kenya?"
I've been an entrepreneur in the traditional sense since I left university but noticed a marked difference when I joined the tech space which is definitely more male-dominated. This influences the more commonly mentioned issues like funding inequalities but there are also fewer solutions for problems that women face more off.
I was lucky to be introduced to an incredible group of women in tech in Kenya who share everything from struggles to successes in this space so that we all anticipate and learn from each others' experiences while building worldwide solutions that also take into perspective the woman's experience.
“Let’s go back to Kazi App, How do I get on-boarded on Kazi? What is going to be my experience? What roles can I play?”
Kazi has service providers and consumers. If you are a service provider, we encourage you to sign up on our mobile app or contact us via email on firstname.lastname@example.org or whatsapp us at +254734603209 and we will help with setting up the service provider profile. We will be running several campaigns across the country that will focus on onboarding of service providers and educating on what the platform can do for their businesses.
We also anticipate that some categories might have been overlooked. In such cases, please send us an email or whatsapp us and we'll consider its inclusion in the following iteration.
We currently have a bias towards service provider on-boarding as we set-off since without them, Kazi will not be as useful a tool as planned.
“Let’s put in this way if you ever were in urgent need of a plumber during the weekend…. you wish you had Kazi. That’s fantastic!! ... people probably could argue this is not anymore a differentiator in 2020s, so what?”
That’s a challenge that we've anticipated and that’s where we are already instrumenting Kazi with intelligence in predicting maintenance or to expand to new business. But that’s where we go back to the need to learn... we have a few ideas that we will be testing along with Kazi launch.
“Thinking to the work we have been doing together, could Kazi actually inspire other entrepreneurs?”
Yes indeed, Kazi can be not only the place where people come together to provision and consume services. Kazi's ambition is to create an active community. For example me and you Massimo we are going to share some of the tools we used to define the business model, the strategy so that other young entrepreneur can benefit from them. Another of our goals is to be able to influence this space that becoming an entrepreneur is just a little less scary as it currently is by breaking down some barriers to entry that we traditionally face.
“We are at the end of this exchange today. Kazi story and its eventual success is still all to be unfold … what does success mean to you?”
This keeps changing for me. I'm trying out a new strategy where I really break down my goals and actively push myself to celebrate them as we hit them and move along instead of what I previously did which was to set a lofty goal and agonize till it was achieved.
With this said, my first success is to launch. After this, it's to actively listed to what feedback our users are giving and to get to the point where we best meet service provider and consumer needs and positively impact the lives of entrepreneurs in Kenya & across Africa.
“Thank you very much Annabel and fingers crossed!”