Ejenzi.co.ke, an online platform allowing users to buy and, or sell construction materials online and have them delivered to their clients doorstep has been launched in Kenya to take the country’s construction industry online.
Founded by Seth Mundhe, a 31 year old entrepreneur based in Nairobi with a background in project development, planning and management in the construction industry, Ejenzi is coined from E short for eCommerce and Jenzi, a Swahili word meaning construction. The founder says he was inspired by Amazon’s efficiency while staying in the US and he quickly saw how a similar platform could help streamline Kenya’s construction industry.
“I experienced first-hand the challenges and complications in procuring the right products and services in the right quantities as and when they are needed, and how this inefficiency always proved costly to a project,” he said. “Imagine the time it takes to shop around for the right materials, not forgetting the traffic and delivery/logistics nightmare.”
Mundhe says the logistics nightmares in the construction industry prompted him to think of solutions that would make his work easier and he therefore resorted to technology.
“During my research, I realized that building material vendors were an equally frustrated lot. They too needed an easier and more efficient way of selling and most importantly accessing new markets. I then remembered how efficient Amazon had been during my stay in the US and realized my solution was in ecommerce,” he said.
Mundhe therefore developed Ejenzi, a solution that enables both vendors and buyers of building and construction materials to interact on the same online platform.
As an online marketplace, Ejenzi specifically deals with building and construction materials and services and allows vendors registered on the platform to list, add, manage and track their inventory through their vendor accounts.
Buyers, on the other hand, are able to choose from the various options available on www.ejenzi.co.ke, order and pay securely online. Ejenzi then processes the orders and delivers to the buyers preferred location within 3 days.
The firm then charges a small commission on sales made through ejenzi.co.ke.
This is not Mundhe’s first try at entrepreneurship. He has tried his hands at a number of businesses before. About 9 years ago, he used to travel to China to buy goods for sale back in Kenya. However, that venture didn’t work out as expected, though he learned some vital lessons that have proved invaluable.
Most recently, he has been running a diaspora events company that organizes and hosts conferences and business meetings in the diaspora, mostly the US, where Kenyan companies seeking to market their products and services to the Kenyan diaspora get to do so.
Even though Ejenzi is his first tech venture, he has very able tech professionals in his team who have been instrumental so far. He sees sites such as Jumia, Masoko and OLX as competition and offline hardware supermarkets such as Alibhai Sharriff.
He aims to remain focused on building and construction supplies and services online to remain unique from other ecommerce platforms in the country. Apart from the competition, other challenges include finances to launch operations across the country, the poor national addressing system making it harder to locate delivery points, bad roads and traffic and the skepticism about online due to fraud. He has hopes though that with the increasing number of mobile money transactions, things are improving.
According to the Communication Authority of Kenya, the ecommerce market was worth around Ksh 5B in 2016 while the construction sector accounted for 9.2% of Kenya’s GDP in the same year. These figures will go up due to the increasing internet penetration rates in Kenya, now standing over 89.4% of the population. Kenya is well placed for a digital commerce explosion and the construction sector wont be left behind. Ejenzi is targeting atleast 3% of the market share in the next 18 months.
The currently self-funded is in talks with a few investors who have shown interest in the company. Ejenzi has also signed up partnerships with a number of companies including VassayTiles, a leading supplier of building and construction. Before the end of this year, Ejenzi aims to spread to other major towns like Kisumu, Mombasa and Eldoret.