Hiccups abroad spurred my money transfer app

Mwaniki Gichuki
For Mwaniki Gichuru, starting Real Pesa was a Eureka moment. For several years, he had been living and working in Perth, Australia where he had gone to pursue a degree in IT while still a teenager.

After graduating from college, Gichuru took up various jobs in technology, inventory control and customer service that took him across the country, at one point shuttling between Perth and Melbourne.

He frequently sought money remittance services to send cash back to his family and to pay for academic courses back home. It was during his visit to Nairobi two years ago that he thought of building a mobile money platform to ease the hassle many like him experienced.

“That moment when a person feels inspired to give is actually quite fleeting, if you don’t give then, you probably won’t. I wanted to build an application that addresses that,” says Gichuru, now 36.

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He linked up with an old friend, Tony Kirui, who had experience working in tech and brainstormed the idea.

“With mobile money being quite popular in Kenya, we came up with an application that would allow one to make payments in perpetuity especially to causes such as churches, charities and fund raisers that would ensure accountability,” says the entrepreneur.

Real Pesa mobile application offers a platform for payments, donation and ticketing and has been published on Google Playstore. The app features an easy to use dashboard with a search function as well as a favourites and recurring function that make it easy for users to index and file their payments.

Real Pesa also features a transactions page that keeps the user up to speed in all their donations.

“Organisations that sign up get a real-time dashboard of all incoming donations including sender’s references,” explains Gichuru, with the whole process takeing about seven seconds.

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“You do not need to memorise the Paybill or bank account details of the organisation that you want to support; you simply search, find and pay. That way an organisation on the platform gets a new and quicker channel to receive support, plus the user gets to support it at any time or place.”

Real Pesa was recently selected to take part in an eight-month startup mentorship programme run by German firm Enpac. The programme will enable Gichuru to shadow a successful entrepreneur who will offer guidance on business strategy, products developments and digital marketing.

The platform is primarily targeted to serve religious groups, NGOs, Saccos, fundraisers and chamas. The platform can also ticket events where the user gets an in-app smart receipt.

Real Pesa has so far enjoyed modest uptake since being launched with various organisations including a children’s home, community based organisations and a church.

“There is no need to receive a ticket on email and print it out to gain admission to an event. With the app, you just show up with your phone, launch the app, scroll the transaction page, see your ticket and show it at the door,” says Gichuru.

Real Pesa is also fully integrated with M-Pesa and is set to launch credit card payments soon.

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