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Home Startups Mazuri Kenya Wants to Connect Kenya’s Maasai Market to International Customers

Mazuri Kenya Wants to Connect Kenya’s Maasai Market to International Customers

by Sam Wakoba
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10368400_277535445761778_2161033384711472638_nCrafts marketplace Mazurikenya.com, a new e-commerce startup has launched in Kenya to promote African culture, create youth employment, and help artisans earn more from their work by tapping into the international market.
Set to compete the Women-focused Soko, and another Soko-Kenya African prints designer shop, Mazuri Kenya was founded by Stanley Gitau and Evan Omondi. Mazuri is Swahili for good and was founded after Stanley realized that he couldn’t find a local, handmade, unique gift from the internet. After much searching, he discovered that the famous Maasai Market in Nairobi did not even have a Facebook page.
After discussing with his friend, Evan, they decided to create a Maasai Market Facebook page to gauge interest from the local and international market.  In under 2 weeks they had over 2000 authentic likes. Then Mazuri Kenya was born.”We’re passionate about using the power of the internet to make a difference in our country and in our communities,” Gitau tells TechMoran. “We want to promote Kenya while creating jobs for young people. Tourism has declined significantly which has negatively impacted the artisans that rely on the physical market to sell their goods.  By selling their items on-line, Mazuri Kenya helps artisans to continue to produce and maintain their livelihoods.”

 

Not which much inventor today, Mazuri Kenya aims to sell local handicrafts that represent the authentic Maasai Market experience (without the haggling).

“We aim to showcase major Kenyan crafts such as Kiondo bags, Maasai beading, Kisii Soapstone, and Wooden carvings to both the international and local community. Mazurikenya.com is our international site with credit card payments while Mazurikenya.co.ke is the local and is Mpesa enabled.

Though growing an e-commerce site is not easy, Gitau, 23, is an Economics student at Kenyatta University. Gitau says he’s passionate about technology and entrepreneurship and prior to Mazuri Kenya, had started several successful social media projects to serve the needs of his university community. At Mazuri Kenya, Gitau is in charge of Business Development.

10371924_277864842395505_7775589170979749567_nHis co-founder, Evan Omondi is 27 and a web developer and apart from web development, enjoys a tough game of basketball. As the IT and Logistics lead at Mazuri Kenya, Omondi aims to see Mazurikenya.com a huge African built e-commerce platform in Kenya as well as and Africa as a whole.

The two were recently joined by Elizabeth Karanja, as the Director in charge of Marketing and are currently looking for interns to run their logistics and supply chain management (preferably Masters or PhD level), a graduate marketing intern and extremely skilled graphic designers. The team is also looking for person’s to fill their advisory team as long as they’ve experience in eCommerce, Business Development and Logistics and supply chain management.

Gitau told TechMoran that whereas funding has been an issue in starting up, they convinced their suppliers to believe in them and it won’t be too hard to convince others to join as the state of tourism in Kenya is really low and traders are looking for ways to increase sales and adopt more sustainable business models.

“So our biggest challenge is getting an advisory board to take us to the next level,” Gitau concludes. The fifth month old startup aims to bring the best of Kenyan craft and art to the world by linking talented artisans with the international market through e-commerce.

Mazuri Kenya is in the process of signing an MOU with the Kenyan Federation for Alternative Trade (Kefat.org) which represents 35 Fair Trade producers and is affiliated with the World Fair Trade Organisation. KEFAT recognizes the opportunity to access new markets. Mazuri Kenya also has commitment from established traders in Maasai Market and is in the process of recruiting more producers, young men and women dealing with handmade African products.

The firm aims to make money via commissions on each sale artisans sell online. They aim to contract DHL to do their logistics

“Youths especially should look at the internet as an untapped source of revenue” says Gitau. “Gone are the days where print advertising was the only source of clients. Nowadays, customers will find you online, place an order and expect delivery at their doorstep. What these means, you no longer have to worry about having a physical place for business, you just do it.”

The firm is currently under incubation at Kenyatta University Chandaria Business Incubation Centre.

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