Kenyan-born and bred Dee Shah, quit BlackRock in mid 2013 to come back home after 14 years in the UK. Dee was not struggling for food or doing odd jobs as some do after finishing college. She left her career as a Product Structurer at BlackRock, a preeminent Asset Managers in the world to return back home to Kenya.
But leaving the UK to settle in Africa was not as easy as she thought at first. She underwent frustrations and experienced difficulties especially in identifying reputable companies providing basic products and services.
Being a go-getter, she undertook extensive research since 2010 and identified a growing need and a gap in the market which connected businesses and customers. After a long time searching the market, she realized the huge advertising costs in the country and in December 2013 launched OffersAfrica.com, with a belief that Kenyans are amazingly entrepreneurial and businesses should not be held back simply because of the high cost of traditional advertising.
“A lot of businesses offer great products and services that they simply cannot get to the market owing to the significant costs of advertising which are unaffordable for most businesses,’ Dee told TechMoran. ” Similarly, the consumer market in Kenya is getting more sophisticated by the day and consumers want quality and choice, they deserve to know about all the businesses that provide products/services they require, thus allowing them to make informed choices.”
According to her, the technology sector in Kenya is growing at an incredible pace, OffersAfrica.com is well positioned to take advantage of this growth and is also in prime position to ensure businesses are able to take advantage of this growth whilst retaining their traditional brick and mortar concepts.
“In this day and age, people want information on the go, therefore it is incredibly important for businesses to embrace this advancement without compromising their traditional business structures,” she says.
OffersAfrica.com aims to give retailers brand awareness and direct footfall to their businesses, whilst enjoying the benefits of gaining target based advertising online. Reputation is key for OffersAfrica.com, therefore only verified businesses are permitted to advertise on the platform. Businesses are also able to gain exposure alongside established brands in the country, thereby gaining credibility as a result of being on the OffersAfrica.com platform.
She adds that businesses are also able to gain exposure owing to the ‘one stop platform’ for all consumer needs. OffersAfrica website has businesses across all categories and can thereby provide convenience to customers to identify businesses that meet all their needs on one single platform. In this fast paced time, consumers want quick solutions, OffersAfrica.com provides these solutions.
“Firstly, in Kenya, it is very difficult to find verified businesses that provide items or services you require, the choice is often limited. Secondly, it is very very expensive for businesses to continually advertise their businesses and thirdly, everyone always loves a deal. OffersAfrica.com was born to address the above, thereby, providing an effective and dynamic platform for both businesses and customers,” says Dee.
The platform allows customers to search for products/services on the platform and identify verified businesses that provide these products/services. They are also able to refine their search to the particular area they wish to visit and are also able to identify which businesses are providing specific offers for the products/services they require.
An offer can be claimed by simply collecting the offer code from the website, visiting the business and redeeming the offer thereby providing customer with great offers without the worries associated with shopping online where they often need to provide addresses and payment details. Customers are able to view the map location, description and contact details of the business enabling them to contact the business directly.
Apart from deals for buyers, businesses gain a web presence and benefit from a mini website on the platform, where all their details are listed. Businesses also benefit from target based advertising, by immediately gaining visibility on OffersAfrica.com each and every single time a customer searches the platform for a product/service they provide, thereby increasing revenue from sale conversions.
For just $1.157 (Ksh100) a day Dee says businesses gain footfall directly to their stores resulting in increased sales and visibility, thus establishing brand recognition and awareness apart from dynamic management of their portal. This also kills firms redundant phone numbers and dead email addresses.
The site does not sell any product. It’s just an online billboard with redeemable coupons/offers online and only drive footfall directly to the verified businesses. This also ensures that unlike other online shopping portals, customers always know which business they are dealing with and if they are happy with these businesses, the businesses can benefit from direct recommendations.
“Our belief is that whilst Kenya is moving in the right direction, there are currently no security measures which actively target fraudsters and the illegal sale of goods online. Therefore, OffersAfrica.com only advertises verified businesses, thereby providing customers with assurance and a level of security. The platform also does not require any addresses or payment details, we want to ensure customers are able to transact in the most secure environment possible,” Dee emphasizes.
With a team of ten, and over 200 offers served, OffersAfrica.com claims no direct competition in Kenya as most players are purely web-based e-commerce and deals sites. Since OffersAfrica.com does not sell items/services, but instead identifies verified businesses providing these items/services, who in turn provide great, mostly exclusive offers to their consumers, which are redeemable in store, Dee believes the ability for customers to visit physical stores and to see and touch a product before purchasing it is incomparable.
The firm has also started providing strategic solutions for their clients, from web development to consultancy services at affordable prices.
To those who are still in the diaspora, and fear coming back home to startup, Dee says Kenya is definitely a very interesting and a very exciting place to be in at the moment. Kenyans are dynamic individuals, the opportunities presented by technology advancements in Kenya are huge both from a consumer and business perspective. She is extremely excited about the opportunities available and are constantly on the lookout for how she can make life easier for both businesses and customers.