Imagine a scenario where you have a party with everything taken care of including service providers only for them to cancel on you in the last minute because of whatever reason.
To salvage the situation, you either call of the party, decide to make sure you cook for it or have a ‘mpango wa kando’ service provider to take care of business. While this last option seems like an impossibility, it is not.
Technology is making every situation work out no matter how inconveniencing it would be if life didn’t go as expected.
With last minute cancellations and need for services, you no longer have to worry about who makes it or doesn’t. To ensure that Kenyans have options when it comes to service providers, technology has come in handy in the form of SwiftAide, a tech start up that is connecting clients to service providers form the convenience of their phones.
Pool of Service Providers and Users
Themed as an Uber of solutions to everyday needs, SwiftAide is a pool of service providers and users on one platform where convenience, quality and reliability are offered in an ecosystem that is meant to make life easier for users especially job seekers and those seeking services.
SwiftAide cofounder George Theuri says that the start up is a mobile marketplace that matches professionals and businesses with local demand, allowing clients to find immediate help with everyday needs, including cleaning, moving, delivery or handyman work.
“In today’s fast-paced world, we are constantly flitting from task to task, skipping meals, dodging deadlines, stuck in traffic, etc. In short, we are just zipping past life in a perpetually weary sort of way, trying to catch a breath over the fleeting weekend. But the weekend has its own share of social obligations. To be left alone; to sit down quiet; to drown the noise of the clamouring world in quiet reflection is one’s birthright. This dose of sanity and stillness is hard to come by in today’s times. SwiftAide ensures you have more time to spend with your children, family or just yourself,” states the company on its website.
Theuri says the idea was conceived because needed somebody to do some chores since their usual help was not available. He thought about making it easy for himself and others who find themselves stuck in the same predicament and thus SwiftAide was born.
“It started with cleaning but it has now expanded to other services with over 200 service providers who are verified by a SwiftAide team. We are creating a link between service providers and clients where service providers upload their professional certificates and identification documents,” adds Theuri.
He says the verification process is key since it helps them offer only reliable service providers so that the clientele will not be disappointed by the likelihood of substandard services being offered.
The app is location-based and services available in major towns within Kenya with Theuri saying that the app is a platform for those who are either freshly graduated as they wait for formal employment or those seeking to provide professional services but with a limited way of reaching the target clientele.
“SwiftAide works the same way you request a taxi. It shows you the service providers close to you and you chose from the ones available based on their profiles on the app,” he adds.
By earning a 15% commission, Theuri says that SwiftAide is an employment creation platform which keeps evolving to ensure that the services needed can be provided in a timely fashion.
Already, the company is working in agency model where those without smartphones can still get the jobs through an agent.
Theuri adds that this approach is meant to help those seeking to provide services are never locked out of the pool.
With an agent, Theuri says, those people who can offer services can always be reached through the agency saving them time and other resources they would spend moving door-to-door in search of odd jobs.
SwifAide operates based on trust where those in the pool act on good faith to offer and receive services. For instance, if one needs cleaning services, they will bargain the cost and then the client will give the commission to the company by topping up an in-app wallet.
For those who would want to breach the system, SwiftAide ensures that any outstanding debt is paid within a certain timeframe failure to which the offenders are locked out of the system. This means that they cannot be found by potential clients.
SwiftAide is also working on another layer where professionals like specialist doctors can list their services. Through SwiftAide explore, small businesses get support by making services easily accessible e.g. dermatologists, ophthalmologists etc.
This way Theuri who is an electrical engineer says, those seeking services which require urgent attention can get them fast and conveniently.
He adds that SwiftAide is offering opportunities not only for those without jobs but also those seeking to widen the scope and reach of their businesses.
Challenges Facing Tech Start Ups
While such ideas take time and money to develop, Theuri says that the biggest challenge is the government not giving incentives to locals. This means that they are locked out of an ecosystem which can create jobs for Kenyans propelling the country’s economic status to greater growth.
He says that the government is offering preferential treatment to foreigners while neglecting those with home-grown solutions to everyday problems. This means that local start ups are struggling financially making them unable to break even as do foreign companies.
To plug the funding gap, Theuri says that Venture Capitalists are an option but local companies should wait until the business has kicked off and there is a direction it has taken which would mean that they have more say in how the business is run. This was in regard to venture capitalists taking over local businesses through hostile takeovers as happened to Haltons Pharmacy’s founder.
With this, SwiftAide is looking to expand into the East African region.
In regard to data fidelity, Theuri says they have strict measures to ensure that the data they have is secured by ensuring that their servers are safe and only accessed by the developer.
The electrical engineer says he hopes to see many job seekers connected to clients they can rely on for an income through SwiftAide not only in Kenya but continent-wide.