He attended the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) which was headlined by US president Barack Obama last year. And after the inspirational event that brought together at least 150 entrepreneurs from around the world to Nairobi in July 2015, Mr Alphonce Juma was burning with a desire to do something innovative.
The 30-year-old businessman is the founder of the Oracom Web Solutions, a company that deals with web development and design, domains and webhosting. But now he has a new invention; he has created a web portal, Kenya Online (www.keonline.co.ke) that brings together all businesses and companies in Kenya. The platform makes it easy for online users to access information about various companies and organisations at the click of a button.
The portal, which went live only last week, aims to give businesses an edge by making them easily accessible online.
He says Kenyans are overwhelmingly receptive to the idea. “We are adding at least 100 companies and entities on the portal every day,” he said.
“The idea came about on the exact time when Obama was here. As he spoke about young people, ideas and how people needed to create opportunities and employment I thought about this idea,” he told Money.
Mr Juma noticed during the GES that many people had come up with numerous solutions. However, he said most of these solutions could not help people living in rural areas where there is no internet and the requisite infrastructure to link them to virtual platforms.
“Many applications could not give solutions during the GES. It gave us a challenge to create a simple solution that has an immense impact on people’s life,” said Mr Juma adding that there were so many questions at the global summit which begged for answers.
He said his invention has provided a solution for some of the problems identified at the GES. “As long as you have a mobile phone you can transact and do business with a company of your choice,” he said.
“We created an SMS-based solution where people can receive text alerts based on business events happening around the country.”
He said his application, which also enables users to get to updates on businesses or offers in an industry, was motivated by the fact that an increasing number of people now access Internet on mobile phones.
Mr Juma’s portal operates more like a business directory. It has as a section where entrepreneurs can be featured for free. There is also a section where companies can market, sell and buy products and services. In addition, business people and service providers can upload their business profile to the platform.
There is also a segment for important events in the business calendar. This enables users to know what is happening and where.
Besides, the portal has a section that handles video marketing and advertising for companies. This is run by internet marketers who advise on various aspects of business as well as plan and execute marketing strategies for companies on the social media. They execute this for clients through bulk SMSs, short codes or email.
He said although the major aim of the portal is to promote Kenyan businesses, it also seeks to brand Kenya through the ‘Buy Kenya, Build Kenya’ concept’.
“We will be working closely with Brand Kenya because we will be promoting the country through this platform,” said Mr Juma.
The entrepreneur said he also realised that major online marketing campaigns locally were not by Kenyans and this motivated him to do something about it.
“We asked ourselves why there were no Kenyan online marketers. We came up with Kenya Online with the aim of giving Kenyan businesses more online presence,” he said during the interview.
“We want to put all Kenyan businesses online so that anybody can transact at any given moment anywhere”.
Mr Juma says solutions are needed for the many challenges the society faces adding that more innovators are needed.
We have been coming up with so many solutions for clients in Kenya, Uganda, South Africa, USA and Canada,” he said.