We have seen many mind blowing start-ups but haven’t seen it all. The Safaricom Academy in Strathmore University is home to some of the best developers. TechMoran came into contact with one of the startups – Secret Friend – that is looking to spread its wings into the market.
Secret Friend is a mobile application that lists support groups for, sexual abuse, alcoholism, HIV/AIDS and first time mums. The user will search for a support group based on name or location.
This application will provide a description of the support group, what it does and the location on the Google maps. In addition to that, the application also has listings of hotline numbers for example rape and a user can make a call directly from the application.
Secret Friend has two founders, Caroline Mutua the Business Developer Manager and Juliet Kirui the CEO, both currently undertaking a Masters in Telecommunication and Innovation at Safaricom Academy. The two say the main inspiration behind this app was the need to alleviate suffering of stigmatized people in the society. When they say stigmatized people they mean victims of sexual assault, rape, alcoholism, gender violence, drug abuse, early pregnancy as well as those with HIV/AID who are afraid of disclosing their predicament.
They have worked on this application for two months at the Safaricom Academy incubation center and have completed Version 1.0 of the application, which is available on Safaricom Appstore, and are now working on version 2.0.
“Safaricom Academy enabled us to meet several people who were willing to help us with our application; marketing and application improvement,” said Caroline Mutua. “Besides all the victimized groups our main target market is people with HIV/AIDS, which are about 1.6 million in Kenya.”
Still in their target market, Juliet Kirui further explained that the social problems listed occur not only for the least fortunate homes only that these cases get aired on the news.
“After talking to the police and Nairobi women’s hospital we realized that these problems occur to people of all social classes, and that is why we opted for those that use smartphones that will cover the middle classes to the upper class,” she added.
Caroline and Juliet will however be working to tap into the low class market as they planning on developing a USSD application which can be used in all phones even the low end.
“But this is highly dependent on the availability of funds and/or uptake of the already existing market,” added Mutua.
There are many self-help groups in Kenya and are all free, but Caroline says that many people, according to the research they did, were willing to join them but time and location were the main challenges.
“Our application is to link people with groups that offer flexibility in terms of meet up time and location because we incorporated location based services,” she said. “Our pilot project is to offer listings and contacts of the support groups. Users currently don’t share their problems online. In the second phase we are planning to partner with professional counselor who will be moderating the forums and giving professional opinion on the matter. For the users, due to fear of disclosure and stigma, we will allow anonymity.
Secret Friend is looking to go nationwide and has already initiated talks with Kenya’s Ministry of Information Communication and Technology (ICT).