For two years, Kennedy Okiya and Robert Mwalugha crisscrossed the city of Nairobi on motorbikes, delivering packages.
Little did the two friends, both graduates of Kenyatta University realise at the time that a business idea would spring forth from this experience.
“In as much as it was a humbling experience, it was also a great eye-opener. We were able to identify pain-points that e-commerce entrepreneurs, who formed the bulk of our clients, were facing and set out to address them,” Kennedy says.
Pick-Up Mtaani, the logistics firm that they went on to co-found today makes an average of 500 deliveries daily in Nairobi and its environs.
They realized that the delivery costs made products sold by online business owners much more expensive. They set out to address this challenge, in the process birthing Pick-Up Mtaani.
The logistics start-up operates pickup points across the city, enabling small online businesses to deliver their products to customers more affordably. When buying and ordering online, customers are asked to indicate their most convenient pick-up point where it will be delivered once they pay the delivery fee of between KSh100 and KSh180 to Pick-Up Mtaani’s pay bill. Sellers then drop off the packages at the firm’s collection point for distribution across the city, before dispatch to agents across the city then an alert for collection is sent to the customer.
According to Kennedy, this service has had the effect of bringing down the cost of deliveries by almost half, thus contributing towards encouraging development of e-commerce.
“The online infrastructure for e-commerce is pretty much built. We are offering physical support in the form of last mile deliveries,” he explains.
Not that the operations of Pick-Up Mtaani are entirely manual. They also rely on 4G internet to power their activities.
“The internet is key. It has helped us grow our business and particularly communicating with online businesses that use our service as well as notification to buyers to collect their goods from our agents. We believe that you cannot separate Pick-Up Mtaani and the internet; we are one and the same. It has helped what could have been a small operation to be a global company,” Robert explains.
Having struggled to secure a job after graduation, eventually leading them to the delivery gig, Kennedy and Robert are passionate about job creation for other young people. Today, their start-up employs 12 people, including riders, social media marketers and office support.
With delivery costs pretty much sorted in Nairobi and its environs, Pick-Up Mtaani has its sights set on expanding to the rest of the country. They are also working towards further encouraging the growth of e-commerce in the country, by enhancing confidence.
“Since we have managed to gain the trust of sellers and buyers through deliveries, we believe we are in a good position to continue acting as an intermediary. We are setting up an escrow account between buyers and sellers to build trust and further support e-commerce,” Kennedy says.
In the coming weeks, Pick-Up Mtaani will be launching an app which will allow for the live tracking of orders at each stage of the process. The business plans to expand its services to more areas of Kenya this year. Pick-Up Mtaani is also considering venturing into a mobile payment service integrating M-PESA and other existing services.
Watch their video here: