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How Chura Ltd is redefining mobile money

Monday August 3 2015

From left:  Jack Kinga, Samuel Njuguna,

From left:  Jack Kinga, Samuel Njuguna, Stephanie Gaku, Njogu Kinyanjui, and Byron Sitawa, the founders of Chura Ltd. PHOTO | CHURA LTD 

Imagine having a service that enables you to transfer airtime across networks, buy airtime from any network using any mobile money service and convert airtime to mobile money.

A team of young young entrepreneurs enables to do that and much more helping overcome those inconveniences brought about by a competitive telcom environment.

The five University of Nairobi alumni have come up with a "one stop mobile services shop" called 'Chura' (Swahili name for frog). As the name implies, Chura Ltd fully accessible on "does the hard leap for you".

Hence enabling with reliable speed and convenience the transfer of airtime across networks, buying airtime from any network using any mobile money service, converting airtime to mobile money, as well as sending airtime to multiple phone numbers at just the click of a button.

The package seems unbelievable, but what the disruptive innovators sell and seemingly will always sell is simply "network interoperability".



The holders of multiple innovation accolades have a single unifying story that led to the birth of the firm: the then impossibility of transacting airtime, money or data bundles between any of the available mobile networks.

Hence, if you find yourself in a situation such as one of the co-founders vividly remembers, you are bound to strain more and more to your own frustration.

One Samuel Njuguna, 26, was browsing one busy night when he suddenly ran out of bundles on his Orange Modem. Realizing that he had some substantial airtime on his Safaricom line, he thought he could anyway use the line on an Orange modem . It didn't work. The following day, he had something to work on related to the problem.

And because his other friends who are now co-owners of the enterprise had other issues to do with transacting online, a company was born to iron out the problem almost any other Kenyan faces when it comes to airtime, bundles and cash.

When their system was virtually unusable, the team, in late 2012, sought and secured an incubation space at the University of Nairobi's startup incubation and acceleration hub, C4DLab (Computing for Development Lab).

But since then, against all odds, the company is stabilizing and looking to break even, soon. Samuel Njuguna, Chura's head of marketing, disclosed that their system handles roughly 2000 transactions every month.

The group's home-grown yet now international in reach is seemingly the ticket they need to get to any platform in the world. After excelling at local innovation competitions such as PIVOT EAST in 2014, the feat opened for the team a series of pitching opportunities in Nigeria (DEMO AFRICA 2014), Silicon Valley (2014), and in early June this year, South Africa.

Their latest product, Chura Money, allows one to withdraw money from their Paypal account to any mobile phone instantly, transfer funds from credit or debit card to any M-Pesa account. Chura Money also affords people in the diaspora the opportunity to send cash directly on their mobile phones to family and friends in Kenya.

What is more, conducting an airtime transaction on the platform lands the subscriber the rare chance to enjoy an instant 5 per cent bonus.

Samuel Njugun'a team comprises Njogu Kinyanjui, an Architectural graduate from the University of Nairobi; Byron Sitawa, Industrial Chemistry; Jack Kinga, Engineering, Stephanie Gaku, Computer Science.