Category Archives: Technology, mobile, internet

The Holidays are Here… and January Bills Will Be Here Soon Too!

December, the Christmas month, is finally here with us. I always look forward to December, being the holiday month that is. Signifying the end of what is sometimes a long year, sometimes a good year (which would feel short). This will be the first time I will be spending Christmas away from my family :-( (大変)

Anyway, I woke up this morning to the beginnings of snow and the coldest temperatures I have ever experienced. It wasn’t so bad, but of course this is only the beginning. By February the winter will be at its coldest so I should reserve my judgement until then. Still, the landscape is beautiful.

Snow at the Kanazawa University campus
Snow at the Kanazawa University campus

That being said, in December, you will indulge in all manner of excesses: shopping, eating and drinking. By January, almost everyone is broke. I am going to Tokyo for the Christmas break and Tokyo is quite expensive (perhaps the world’s most expensive city) and I am contemplating leaving my ATM card behind! Of course I must first set aside the money for January survival!

Anyway, if you are in Kenya, there is a way to clear your January bills early through OLX, bearing in mind you can sell everything and anything on that site. You can also raise money for December debauchery :D Start early, make an ad that stands out. Sell anything (except the illegal stuff) and everything. Go through your inventory for the year, find clothes and shoes you haven’t worn in 2014, books you might never read again, random electronics gathering dust on shelves, furniture crowding your apartment, quails that failed as a business.. the platform to sell everything is there, so use it. Create ads that stand out, here are some tips to do that. Good luck in raising the money! Let’s enjoy the holidays, but stay safe. Long live December!

Hands on with TumaPesa –The MPESA companion

Guest post by  James Wahome.

Once in a while, I might get a request to write about an app, a website,  a phone review.. so I will use the service/app/website/phone etc and write my experience. But in this case, I wasn’t in a position to use Mpesa, seeing as I am halfway across the world in a country with no roaming.

So I asked the requester to do a post and here we are. Hope you will use this app to make your transactions smoother and error free. No one wants to send money to the wrong number! This is also efficient for Paybill Numbers, imagine having to memorize all paybills, and which KPLC number is for pre or post paid.

The Tuma Pesa App:

tuma pesa
tuma pesa

It’s happened to every MPESA user, you urgently need to send money to someone but you don’t have the number off head, just in your Address book, So you end up navigating to your Phonebook, copying the number, navigating back to your app drawer launching the SIM Tool Kit and pasting the number when prompted.

But that’s too much work and often we simply tempt fate and end up sending money to the wrong Number. What about PayBill Numbers and their respective accounts? Well that’s even worse, you copy the PayBill name and account somewhere on a piece of paper maybe and you key them in one by one into MPESA when prompted. You manually have to keep track of all the PayBill numbers and accounts so you can refer to them when you want to use them.

What if you didn’t have to do all that, What if it was as easy and convenient for you as downloading an app that takes care of all you Numbers, PayBills and Accounts? Well, that is what TumaPesa is all about. To use TumaPesa simply download from google play store or click on the following link [TumaPesa Mpesa Companion].

How does it work? Easy, let me walk you through the 3 key features that make TumaPesa revolutionary. Upon install you get a slide introduction of how to use the app. It highlights the key features of the app and directions of use as explained below.

1. TumaPesa loads all your contacts and formats them for you in a nice intuitive list that can be searched by name or number. All the contacts are pulled from both Sim Card and Phone Memory.

Say I want to send cash to Savvy Kenya, well I simply search for her name, click on it and the SIM Tool Kit is opened. In addition to this her Number is copied to the clip board and a pop up of her details appears on the top right corner with her Name and Number. You can transact safely and securely without the fear of sending money to the wrong number.

In the app you search for a contact
In the app you search for a contact
Select the contact and it is loaded to the SIM toolkit
Select the contact and it is loaded to the SIM toolkit
  1. For contacts you send money frequently you have the option of saving them by long pressing on a contact name and they automatically get stored in the Favorites Tab and a star appears next to them indicating they are now in favorites.
Favoriting contacts
Favoriting contacts
  1. For PayBill numbers and accounts you can save a list of them in the PayBill section of the app and use them whenever you need.
Adding paybill numbers
Saving paybill numbers
Saving paybill numbers
Saving paybill numbers

The App is currently only available for Android but an IOS version will be out in the next few weeks so watch out.

Please download the app and give feedback. There are always so many programmers out there willing to make your life easier, so appreciate the effort by downloading the app, it is free, after all!

Moving Out? OLX is Your Friend

It’s one thing to pack for a week away from home, or perhaps for a month. What do you take when you are relocating altogether? And you have a 30Kg luggage limit! How do you pack your entire life into 30Kgs of luggage? If I don’t get a nervous breakdown this current week, I shall get through any other period. I am even yet to buy a suitcase, and I don’t want one of those generic ones found in supermarkets that break apart after a single journey. Then I decided to try online, went to olx and oh gosh, people are posting weird, dark and blurry pictures of suitcases with no descriptions. And only one picture to give you an idea of the suitcase. I think I have no option but to go back to the supermarket and hope for a good find within my budget.

Anyway, in my packing and sorting out my stuff, I have come across several items I need to get rid of, things I don’t need any more but I could make some money if I put them up on olx. There is this set of baby cots, a bigger cot and a Moses-like smaller cot. Note: if you have a baby, don’t be in a hurry to buy those Chinese-made metal baby cots no matter how cute they may look. The baby outgrows them really fast, so if you buy them, just know it’s for a short period. It’s better to get a good wooden cot made for you that the baby can use till they are 2 or 3 years old, and can then transfer to those smaller beds. Anyway, I shall be selling the set below on olx, any takers?

Baby cot set that Jeremy has outgrown
Baby cot set that Jeremy has outgrown. Click to see larger image.

There are many more items I would love to give away, or sell and not just shoes or clothes. If you’re moving places, this could be a chance to upgrade your furniture, electronics etc. Get some cash to start afresh. If you are selling something online, please for the love of the Internet and all that is holy, take pictures in good lighting (take them outside if you live in one of those flats that never receive natural light), take many of those pictures, and write a good description. It doesn’t have to be long, make it like a mini skirt. Long enough to cover the essentials, short enough to entice. People like me who are looking for deals online are relying on sellers to put up a good & comprehensive database of affordable items in all categories. If you’re moving out and there’s stuff you don’t want to leave behind for your nasty caretaker, neighbours or landlord, sell it on olx.

OLX App Offers a Faster Way to Browse/Sell

Despite friends’ misgivings about olx (so many cons there, you have to be careful), I have actually used for some two great deals: a laptop and a baby car seat. The thing about olx that you have to realize is that it’s a platform to connect buyers and sellers, and cons have always been there even offline.

I recently downloaded the OLX app and was surprised at the ease of navigation and fast loading of the pages (yes I was on Safaricom internet!).

The user interface is really simple and neat.

OLX App loading screen
OLX App loading screen

It instantly picked the location nearest to me so that when I search for deals, I get the most relevant and most accessible deals.

Oh wait, this is yet another welcoming screen.

Oh wait, another welcoming screen on the OLX App.
Oh wait, another welcoming screen on the OLX App.

Ok here’s the screen that has already picked location. Loading was really quite fast. Maybe it was the timing, so the internet was a bit faster as more people were asleep!

OLX app showing Komarock as my nearest location!
OLX app showing Komarock as my nearest location!

From here, I randomly browsed by category (Cars) just to see what I would get and how the app works. I instantly got the cars being listed near/around Komarock.

olx app 4

I wondered if it’s possible to change location, I mean, if you are looking for something as big as a car, your location shouldn’t be limited to just your constituency or something!

Just tapping on the location, I was able to zoom out to the larger location of Nairobi. You can also choose to list all cars listed in Kenya;  and so on..

Cars listed in Nairobi using olx app
Cars listed in Nairobi using olx app

 

I tried to navigate to other categories as well, the transition was just as smooth and fast. I think if you have a reliable internet connection,, you’re likely to enjoy browsing for deals using the app. As you can see, my location chosen now is the larger geographical area “Kenya”, and you can narrow or widen your search area as much as you like.

Searching for a different category on olx app
Searching for a different category on olx app

Narrowing down location to Komarock, I get jobs and services in my area.

testing
Narrowing down location to Komarock on the olx app

You can also apply various filters to your search, such as prices, make of cars etc.

You can also save your search for future reference.

If you’re selling something, it’s easier to upload pics directly from the phone as opposed to first transferring them to the computer then uploading on the olx site, or relying on the stability of your browser to maintain the connection as you try to upload the pics.

The app is available on  iOS, Android, Nokia ad blackberry app stores. Here’s the link to the Android one 

Try it out and give me feedback on its usability!

 

OLX to Sponsor the 2014 Social Media Awards

Last year, I was part the panel of judges for the inaugural Olx social media awards in Kenya. Our work was to shortlisted five out of all the the  nominated persons/accounts in each of the categories, and then the public would do the final voting. This year, I am happy to announce that I will also be a judge :) The list has not changed from last year. The awards culminated in a gala dinner at the Laico Regency. OLX is also the sponsor for this year’s Social Media Awards.

OLX to sponsor social media awards
OLX to sponsor social media awards

 

Last year, the OLX Social Media Awards had 25 categories including Social Media News Channel of the Year, Social Media Personality of the Year, Social Media Corporate Award of the Year and Social Media Innovation of the Year.  New categories will be introduced this year to make the Awards more exciting and inclusive.

 

For the full list of nominees and winners of the 2013 Inaugural Social Media awards, click on the link!

I will keep you updated on when the nominations are open so you can nominate your favorite social media influencers, we judges will shortlist them based on criteria that we will share with the public, and finally you will get the chance to vote for the final winner.

The awards create a platform for individuals and organizations to celebrate the contribution of social media in the social, economic and political spheres by recognizing those who have used it positively to impact lives.

Yes, There are Things You Cannot Sell on OLX!

Jokes and taglines aside (Everything sells!), there are some things that you cannot sell on olx (or any other online platform for that matter), for various reasons. Mostly legal and/or cultural.

OLX has to validate ads to ensure no laws are being violated before allowing them to go live, that is why when you post an ad, you might be told to wait for sometime before the ad can appear on the website.

For legal reasons, below are some things you cannot sell online:

  • Babies or any human beings or body parts or bodily fluids!

    baby for sale
    baby for sale
  • Illegal/outlawed/banned drugs e.g. marijuana, cocaine, miraa (if in the UK!)
  • Any content that violates copyright or trademark, especially if you do not own that copyright
  • Any content that violates intellectual property (IP) of another, especially if you don’t own that IP e.g. pirated movies, music, patents
  • Porn – this is a no no
  • Information regarding other people without their consent
  • Stolen items – don’t post stolen cars, phones, computers..
  • Don’t advertise your pyramid schemes, chain marketing etc
  • Illegal services such as soliciting are not allowed!
  • No pictures of frontal nudity!
  • No weapons

    No guns allowed
    No guns allowed

For cultural and personal reasons, please don’t put up for sale the following items on the site (not exhaustive):

  • Used cosmetics and other used personal items such as combs, toothbrushes, underwear
  • Tobacco products
  • Alcoholic drinks etc

Check out olx for the full list of things not allowed for sale on the website.

So while everything sells on olx, remember, only within legal and cultural limits!

Pivot East 2014 Winners

I know I am late in publishing this list, since the competition and conference ended last week. Pivot East was held at Panari this year, and the winners in the five categories were picked from a pitching contest in which five start-ups were shortlisted for each category.

Pivot east 2014 winners
Pivot East 2014 winners

Here are the winners of PIVOT East 2014

Mobile Society Category

SokoText (Kenya): SokoText uses SMS based pre-ordering service to make it easier for small mama mbogas (fruit and vegetable sellers) in slums to get their daily stock. SokoText is based in Mathare slum in Nairobi.

1st Runners Up: TotoHealth (Kenya). TotoHealth enables hospitals and organizations to communicate and provide targeted information on antenatal & postnatal care using low-cost phones.

Mobile Entertainment category

UbongoKids (Tanzania): Ubongo Kids is a multiplatform, interactive edu-cartoon with SMS interaction broadcasting on TV to kids in Tanzania and online for kids around the world. They are looking to expand across Africa and already have a deal with Startimes to kick this off.

1st Runners up went to Safari Tales (Kenya): Safari Tales is an edutainment android mobile application for children to access Digital African Narratives & learn African Languages. They currently have four complete stories available on the app.
Mobile Enterprise Category

A SiM Mobile (Kenya): ASim Mobile is a supply chain mobile solution integrated seamlessly with most popular accounting, ERP apps in the world.

1st runners up: Online Hisab(Ethiopia) a cloud-based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution.

Mobile Finance Category

ChamaSoft (Kenya): A group management platform which manages administration of chamas, allowing them to concentrate on investment rather than administration.

1st runners up was Beyonic (Uganda): Beyonic seeks to eliminate cash by creating the best solutions that enable business to make payments using mobile money.

Mobile Utilities Category

Sendy (Kenya): A platform for on-demand errands. With the tap of a button, they instantly connect senders and riders and enable payments via mobile phones

(Note, I have actually used the Sendy app before, read my review here)

1st runners up were MaraMoja (Kenya) -Maramoja is Kenyan social enterprise dedicated to providing easy access to safe, reliable transport services through your mobile device.

The founders award went to Online Hisab a cloud-based accounting package for Ethiopian SMEs, who are looking for an affordable and easy to use accounting solution.

The winners of the competition will get funding amounting to 10,000 dollars per startup from m:lab East Africa. The funding will be split into two halves, the first being a $5,000 grant. The other $5,000 will be an investment which may be topped up by other investors

Using Sendy

This post was first published on the Sendy Blog

It’s one thing to write about an app after learning about it, it’s another to actually use the app and experience it for yourself. After learning about Sendy, I downloaded it from Google Play,  but didn’t use it for a while.

Sendy app on my phone
Sendy app installed on my phone, right next to Calls Blacklist .. very useful apps.

 I had bought a book for a friend and was having a challenge delivering it to them, because of distance and hectic schedules. So this week, I have been working in Industrial Area in Nairobi, and my friend works on the other side of town in Kilimani. The obvious solution was to have a rider deliver it, so I opened the Sendy app. At first, it had my location at Bunyala road, so I tapped on the screen to update my location and it did so immediately, I didn’t even have to turn on GPS, I guess it uses your GSM network for location as well.

Sendy rider at Inda
Sendy rider nearest me in Industrial area

There was only one rider who was around me, so I pressed the button for call rider. He informed me his name is Oloo and he would be there in 20 minutes (much less than the app indicated). I told him I needed something delivered to Kilimani and he quoted his price, which was reasonable. So he agreed to come over, as he was in town.

I had cash, so when he arrived in the 20 minutes, I just paid him. But if you don’t have cash (or change) you can pay through M-Pesa or your VISA card.

Oloo called me about 30 minutes later and told me had delivered the book. Calling my friend confirmed receipt. So I texted Oloo to tell him thanks and saved his number for future use.

I remember asking him how he signed up for Sendy. He told me he had to go through a lengthy vetting process including getting a certificate of good conduct from the CID, but he has had good business so far. So you can trust Sendy riders.

But come to think of it, I don’t need to save all numbers of all riders I come across; because once they have the Sendy app on their phones, it tracks their location. If I ever need a package delivered, all I have to do is load the Sendy app on my phone and get the nearest riders available around me, and the estimated time until they arrive at my location. Usually, the time they take to arrive is much less than indicated in the app, because they’re on motorbike thus not hindered by traffic. You can always call them to confirm their ETA.

Later, when I was having coffee at Savannah Lounge at Sameer Business Park, I tried out the app and it had updated my location and the nearest rider information had also changed.

A Sendy rider nearest Sameer Business Park
A Sendy rider nearest Sameer Business Park

I’d suggest everyone download this app and keep it in their phone, because you never know when you will need it.

It’s simplicity is astounding, the first page you load is the one showing you riders around you. You just have to sign up first after downloading it. Let me know your experience with it once you have used it.

Everything Sells? Why Not Find Out

There are many odd things on sale on olx Kenya. Not in the least, rabbit urine. As more and more people get online looking for deals, the market expands for the seller. There should be no limit to what anyone can buy/sell online (within legal limits!)

airport for sale
Haha, someone was once trying to sell an aiport. Image from http://www.trending.co.ke/vip_lounge_burnt_down_and_othe-219513221.html

So do you have something you never thought could sell online, that probably couldn’t find a ‘category’? – although I think there is a “Miscellaneous” category.

Anyway, random stuff that you can sell include:

  • Kids’ uniforms that your kids only wore for a few days/months
  • Unused gifts from Christmas/Valentines/other gift-giving seasons
  • I typed “sisters” and got 3 results.. no one trying to sell their sisters, the results were a cleaning crew and a “Sister’s Estate”
  • Another random word “little” and got 137 or so results. Basically anything you type you will get a result.
  • Books that you’ve outgrown
  • Quails and all sorts of animals

What miscellaneous stuff would you like to sell? Put it up and it will probably sell. And if you’re thinking of buying anything, check the deals/prices on olx first.

Safari Tales, The Kids App We’ve Been Waiting For

If you’ve been looking for a kids app that tells traditional folk stories in English, Kiswahili and other African languages, then Safari Tales is what you need. The application is free to download from Google Play.

Safari Tales application
Safari Tales application

The application has:

  • Folk Tales
  • Poems & Tongue twisters
  • Songs- Nursery Rhymes & Lullabies
  • Learn Kiswahili
  • Have fun offline – upcoming Kiddie events

The features of the application include:

  • All African Folklore in one application
  •  “Read to Me” — hear the narration as you read the story
  •  “Read it Myself” — read the book in its traditional form
  •  “Auto Play” — plays like a movie, automatically reading and turning pages.
  •  Tap on a word to read its meaning from an in-built dictionary
  •  A full library of traditional African Folklore: ¸ Free first Bundle of books!

If you have young kids and they’re tired of playing fruit ninja, angry birds, temple run and whatever other games kids play on your android devices, download this app today and let me know your feedback. I will probably do another post when I have interacted with this app fully.

Here’s the link in case you missed it.