Launched in 2007 in Kenya by award winning international journalist Jenny Luesby, African Laughter Ltd is run by a team of young, versatile and hardworking Kenyans who aspire to use media to change lives.
The firm’s projects include Farmbiz Africa a citizen farmer information service, Kenya Kidz, a family news portal and Webaraza News Service, the region’s first ever pr news wire. The firm also offers PR services and customised web and mobile app development.
Recently the firm launched two revolutionary mobile apps; PR PRO and Track All, to help firms track social media mentions on any subject as real-time alerts direct to individual’s phones.
Hot now from their labs is Bizable, an SME business news service to enable small businesses thrive.
TechMoran caught up with Bizable’s Editor Dinfin Mulupi and this is what she told us.
What is bizable and why the name ?
Bizable is an online business news service targeted at SMEs.
The name ‘Bizable’ is derived from two words ‘Business’ and ‘Enable’ The name is in line with our mission which is to enable small businesses grow by giving them information that suites their unique needs. We are an enabler.
Statistics show that about 80 per cent of SMEs go out of business before their third year of operation and I know this is cliché, but the problem is that the media has published a lot about the challenges entrepreneurs face but no solutions have been offered. So now we know the problems, how do we solve them to keep entrepreneurs in business ?
You will be amazed at the levels of innovation and creativity of these entrepreneurs. How they manage to pay their bills and grow their businesses. We just wrote about a small plastics manufacturer who is borrowing money from friends in the US at minimal or no interest rates because she doesn’t want to pay the high interest rates Kenyan banks ask for.
Another cosmetic manufacturer is stocking his goods at small mini-supermarkets in the estates because large supermarkets cannot stock his products since his company is too small and they would probably pay three months after delivery. Now, small businesses cannot wait for three months to get paid, most would probably be ‘dead’ by then. Such stories are inspiring and other entrepreneurs can learn from them.
What does bizable literally do (to a layman)?
It is a tool that informs, advises and educates entrepreneurs on ways to solve their everyday challenges we achieve this by publishing the latest news, trends in specific sectors, business opportunities, expert advice and growth strategies for entrepreneurs.
Being an SME ourselves and growing in an environment of scarcity of information we are able to take a bottom up approach developing articles on what entrepreneurs really want to know tying it to how it helps them and their businesses. For instance when the prices of milk go up, what does that mean for a yoghurt manufacturer?
Which firm is behind bizable?
Bizable is owned by African Laughter Ltd , a Kenyan online media company. The company runs a news service targeted at farmers called Farmbiz Africa and another for families called KenyaKidz.
What has the firm achieved with any of its other products?
Our niche products are tailored to provide information that has real impact on lives of our readers.
Farmbiz Africa, for instance, has become a reference site not only for farmers but also organizations trying to reach out to farmers. We have had numerous feedback from farmers who have used the information on the site are have improved their yields and earnings.
Kenyakidz on the other hand has a huge following, we actually get phone calls from parents asking where we think they should take their kids for the weekend. We have managed to be in sync with our readers, their lives and the little things that bother them.
What inspired it to launch bizable?
We needed to do this because we understand how important small businesses are to the Kenyan economy. According to the Kenya Economic Survey 2011 released by the Ministry of Planning, National Development and Vision 2030, out of 503,000 jobs created last year, 440,400, or 80 per cent were in the SME sector. This is incredible.
Who is your competition?
There are a number of publications in the market but so far we haven’t seen any that are SME needs specific as most focus on large firms and NSE listed money bags.
How unique are you from your competitors?
Bizable is online, meaning with the busy schedule of most business owners they are able to get their information on the go. We also developing some of our stories based on the inquiries we get so we know that our audience are getting solutions to problems they are already facing.
How many users so far?
We launched the magazine 1 week ago and so far we have 56,000 hits. This is quite impressive bearing in mind that we haven’t done any marketing for the site, it has just gone live. We expect this to triple in the coming month and continue growing as we launch our marketing.
Take us through your different features?
At the moment we have four key sections. We have the ‘My Business’ which looks at the sectors SMEs operate in and the trends.
‘My Market’ which looks at market trends for example consumer behaviors while ‘Tools’ handles the tools SMEs can use to improve efficiency, like an online accounting software or free websites
We also have a ‘Columnist’ section handled by the company’s founder Jenny Luesby who shares her own experiences as an entrepreneur running an SME in Kenya.
Have you raised any seed funding or are bootstrapping?
No seed funding. This is an African Laughter initiative.
How do you want to make money out of bizable?
Through adversing and content syndication.
How will SMEs benefit?
Entrepreneurs have to make a lot of decisions everyday which affect their businesses. Sadly, they lack access to information. How much should you pay an accountant? How to comply with taxation and other legal requirements. What kind of people should you hire? By giving then access to relevant information, they can make informed decisions that will help them grow their businesses and employ more people. We expect to see more informed decision making, increased profitability and in the long run longer life span for our SMEs.
In two years, what do you want to achieve?
We want to be a leading information source for all entrepreneurs and hustlers in Kenya. We will be a household name.