A new Kenyan startup TasKwetu is making lives easier for Kenyans in the diaspora as well as those living locally by carrying out tasks delegated to them by their clients by use of an online task management and tracking platform
Ever since their university years, 21-year-old Leila Khalif and her 23-year-old classmate Edwin Nderitu have had desire to help Kenyans living in the diaspora easily invest back home.
According to the two, both graduates in international relations from the United States International University (USIU) —Africa, while diaspora residents are looking to invest locally it is hectic to work out the nitty-gritty while living thousands of kilometres away.
It is this ultimate vision that saw them set up an online platform which enables users to delegate tasks to the duo and track progress made.
“Kenyans in the diaspora do not have easy access to government services like document procurement and (ability to monitor) big projects like building a house, so we pondered what we could do for these people because as a country we are also losing out on revenue. That is how the idea of the platform came about,” said Ms Khalif.
With the help of 22-year-old web developer Ian Juma, they created TasKwetu (leave tasks to us). The name is meant to establish trust among clients.
Ms Khalif serves as the startup’s chief executive while Mr Nderitu is the business development manager.
“She is passionate and a visionary which makes her fit for the job, in addition its easier for her being a woman to build trust which also helps in bringing in clients,” he said of Ms Khalif’s role.
TasKwetu was formed four months ago, incubated at Nailab’s accelerator programme for three months and launched on August 29.
By using the platform, people get their tasks done from the comfort of their homes without compromising their busy schedules or worrying about running an errand in heavy traffic.
All a user has to do is order a task on the taskwetu.com website, either by clicking on an available list or describing an errand, after which one pays service charge and tracks progress as the job gets done.
While most communication is done through the platform, there are instances when they call a client in case changes need to be made or unexpected delays.
“For now we are targeting clientele within the country so that we can learn about their challenges and fine-tune our services before we bring in diaspora clients. To be a sprinter you must first learn to walk,” said Ms Khalif.
The young entrepreneurs have established a database of clients with an increasing number of return customers. Their services range from document procurement to delivery of gifts, dealing with Kenya Revenue Authority and renewal of passports.
They also handle cheque deliveries and shop for people who are too busy.
“We got the skills through our experience of company registration as well as getting tax pins in addition to helping some company directors migrate from old manual systems of filing returns to the new itax system,” Mr Nderitu explained.
A client pays a minimum Sh400 as service charge, but this varies depending on location and the nature of task to be undertaken. Clients use online payments platforms like PayPal and Visa to pay.
The startup’s main source of revenue is service charge, said Mr Nderitu, adding that they plan to diversify income through advertising on the platform.
The duo plans to expand the business from the Nairobi base to Mombasa, Kisumu, Eldoret and Nakuru among other towns.
“Our tasks are heavily dependent on trust, initially getting strangers to trust us was hectic but coming for incubation at Nailab helped because our clientele realised that we had been trained and if anything went wrong they knew where to go,” Ms Khalif said.
“Another major challenge was lack of capital to transform our idea into a sellable product. It is upon you as an individual entrepreneur to seek funding,” said Mr Nderitu.
TasKwetu is among startups incubated at Nailab and which are set to receive Sh1 million seed capital each.
“It is a huge amount on paper but when it comes to implementation it will be used up quickly. Right now we are working from Nailab and do not need an office,” he said.
Mr Nderitu attributed his ability to overcome challenges to his childhood desire to become an entrepreneur. Ms Khalif has always wanted to be self-employed since her secondary school days, he added.
“We listen to one another and try to compromise if we cannot reach a middle ground. Our mantra; that business comes first, is a major factor in helping us make decisions on what to undertake, including setting out to run errands from as early as seven in the morning,” Ms Khalif said.
The duo plans to integrate project management on the platform, she added.
Ms Khalif said that she was determined to see the startup blossom into a successful venture despite the many challenges that may come their way.
“Being this young and from a Somali background I feel pressure mounting to show my peers that one can own a profitable business so long as one has determination. The fact that Islam fully supports female entrepreneurship — Prophet Muhammad’s wife was a renowned business woman who was respected in society — is an added advantage,” she says.