Kenyan startup Mafundi has launched an online platform aggregating information and reviews of local workmen, assisting small scale craftsmen with marketing their services and providing consumers with a reliable database of workers.
In an interview with HumanIPO, founder of Mafundi Kihahu Macharia said the platform is intended to make finding reliable workmen in Nairobi easier, and hopes to provide a quality filter to safeguard consumers.
“70 per cent of Kenyans suffer from bad workmanship. Mafundi simply enables you to hire experts real-time, while it also professionalises and markets workmen’s work,” Macharia said.
“Mafundi solves the problem of bad workmanship and difficulty in accessing services when you are in need of them in Kenya.”
The platform also helps individual craftsmen and small businesses in reaching out to a wider audience and marketing their services better, Macharia said.
“We also address the issue of lack of a business development and marketing tools by service companies and individual workmen so we created an online marketplace where workmen and companies can create online work portfolios and resumes of their work, tools certifications to achieve the same value a company website does,” he said.
“Users can easily hire, rate or recommend a workman and a workman can use this as a work marketing tool.”
According to Macharia, the Mafundi platform removes the tediousness of searching for workers and provides a more direct communication channel between customers and workmen.
“Internet search provides no trust, it’s not location based, and not accessible on multiple devices. It’s not usable by workmen. It’s hard and a long process to contact the workman,” said Macharia.
“The Yellow Pages is a tedious process and lacks enough information; while personal recommendations limit workmen’s marketing. It’s not quick, lacks enough information and is unreliable in a lot of circumstances.”
Mafundi vets workmen signing up to the platform by requiring each worker to submit a full registration profile, complete with photographs of previous work. Qualifications are also checked with the relevant institutions and bodies, and given payment is through M-Pesa the workmen’s identity can be tracked, Macharia said.
From a customer’s point of view, the platform has a rating and review feature, so consumers can feed back to the platform with reports of a workman’s service.
Macharia said Mafundi is ideally suited to the African market, where feature phones are common and easy-to-use technical solutions often popular.
“The company vision is to beat non consumption of technology by creating easy to use, low cost technologies for the masses,” he said.
“Fundis only need to make an easy profile and keep refreshing it. When a user selects a fundi, the fundi will get an SMS alert.
“On workmen all they need is a trip to a cyber café or contact us and have their profile created. The workmen don’t need to be online, they just need to have a phone where he can get an SMS alert when contacted.”
Macharia said the company hopes to see over 2,000 Nairobi-based workmen listed within six months, with 5,000 users on the platform.
“In 2015 we will expand our services to the rest of Kenya with a view to covering the East African market in 2016, eventually to be the most trusted skill hiring website in Africa and to create business tools that most Africans in the informal sector can use to manage and market their work,” he said.
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