Rarely do you find teenagers deliberating on starting a business. In most instances, their minds are on completing high school and joining tertiary institutions. But the case was different for the founders of Savana Kenya.
The group of six met while attending the Africa Leadership Academy. Although they followed different paths on completion of the training, they shared a common dream of becoming entrepreneurs.
It came as no surprise that they started their entrepreneurial journey by launching Savana Kenya, an online shopping and delivery service portal. The inspiration behind the product was the heavy traffic experienced in major city roads, which makes it difficult to visit a shop, and long queues in the supermarkets during rush hour.
Launched last month, the platform, created by Jason Oteng-Nyame and Anthony Maina, is designed to bring convenience to shoppers by allowing them to buy goods online and have them delivered to their doorsteps within two hours at a cost of Sh300.
“There are a lot of opportunities in e-commerce and we are striving to offer Kenyans a great online shopping experience for consumer goods,” said Mr Maina, Savana’s co-founder and chief executive.
Commenting on the viability of the business Mr Maina said: “An in-house study revealed that middle-income earners are tied up at work most of the time, especially during weekdays, and find little time to check into supermarkets. Our service is tailored to give them convenience and make it possible for them to engage in other businesses when they are free.”
The founders are well-organised with each having a defined role. Three Kenyans – Bradley Opere, Mr Maina and Gabriel Wamunyu – serve as executive-director, chief executive officer and chief technical officer respectively.
Mr Oteng-Nyame from Ghana is the chief financial officer, Tapiwa Lionel from Zimbabwe is the online marketing manager while Dofan Aziz Kone from Cote d’Ivore has no defined role but is involved in decision-making.
The founders, all still below 22 years, hope to attract venture capitalists to provide counsel and much-needed capital to improve the business. They are currently growing their online presence and hope to increase the number of visitors to their website from the current 400 a day and convert them into business. They are also working to improve the website to make it more user-friendly.
And to offer what they term affordable rates to consumers, one of Savana’s strategies is to strike a deal with manufacturers to provide consumer goods at competitive rates. Their long-term plan is to own a warehouse to ensure a constant supply of goods, which will allow them make deliveries at their own convenience.
Although the online shopping culture is yet to catch on locally, they are optimistic their portal will change this trend by engaging the growing number of tech-savvy but busy people.
“The service is customised to every individual. If you want shopping dropped at your office that is exactly what we will do,” said Mr Opere.
As they wait for domestic business to pick up, they are currently focused on making deliveries to offices at a cost of between Sh500 to Sh1,500. They have segmented the areas of operation and will roll out their services countrywide gradually. They are also increasing manpower for faster delivery of orders.
To cover a wider network, they are in talks with the developers of Sendy, an app that connects senders and a network of transporters.
Because half the founding team is set to return to the US for studies, they are making arrangements to ensure uninterrupted business in their absence. Savana’s head of recruitment, John Njoroge, and the chief operations officer, Morgan Muchemi, will oversee local operations after the other members fly out in August.