Pesa-gram.com is a mobile money transfer service, through which Kenyans in the diaspora can send money back home, and have it delivered directly to the recipient’s phone in less than 24hrs. We utilize the already existing mobile money transfer system in Kenya known as M-Pesa. Typically, a client makes an order on our website and provides the recipients mobile phone number in Kenya. We then deliver the money straight to the individual’s phone. This money can then be accessed via M-Pesa.
Here is what the founders told us.
When was it launched and where?
We started operations in early October 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. We also have an office in Nairobi, Kenya.
Who are its founders?
The pesa-gram.com team consists of 4 individuals: Josephat Koima, Susan Yebei, Lawrence Barchok and Lorna Koima.
What inspired them to start it?
We were inspired by the need to offer a cheap, fast and reliable alternative money transfer service. Additionally, we wanted to take advantage of M-Pesa to offer a more affordable option to established transfer services such as Western Union. With Western Union, the transactions fees are high and the recipients have to travel to major towns to withdraw money. This is inconvenient for those living far from the cities. M-Pesa agents, however, are now easily accessible and offer a faster way of receiving money – but locally. Pesa-gram.com now extends the service internationally.
How does it work?
A client visits pesa-gram.com and selects the amount they wish to send. They then either log in or register on the website before proceeding to a check out. As part of the process, the client provides the name and the mobile phone number of the person receiving the money in Kenya. Upon receiving the order, our agents in Kenya immediately send money to the phone number provided by the client. We then notify the user once the order is delivered.
How many users so far?
We are continuing to see a rapidly growing client base. We do not want to disclose the details for confidentiality purposes but the numbers are encouraging. We have also received hundreds of ‘likes’ on our facebook page (www.facebook.com/PesaGram) within our first 2 months.
Besides our competitive rates, we offer the convenience of money being delivered to the recipient’s phone. We also deliver orders 7 days a week including holidays, and we will be working full-time throughout the festive season. In the coming weeks, we will be introducing a new feature by which users can send money from their phones in Kenya to people in the diaspora.
Any funding yet?
We are using our own savings at this point, but we are actively positioning ourselves to take advantage of the existing opportunities.
We do not have any partnerships at the moment. The pesa-gram.com team, however, is having ongoing talks with interested parties/investors regarding the possibility of having such collaborations in the future.
We are all recent college graduates and do not yet have significant expertise in business. We are, however, open to ideas and input that will help us grow and improve, and this approach has enabled us to learn tremendously in the few months we have operated. We are thankful for the overwhelming support from our clients.
Future plans or expansion?
As a start up in its very early stages, we are definitely looking into broadening not only our customer base, but also diversifying our products and services. For now, our immediate plan is to launch a new feature whereby users in Kenya will be able to send money abroad, via their phones. We have a number of projects lined up, and we will be rolling them out in the months to come.