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Want to buy a condom? Let your phone do the walking

By Dr Mercy Korir | November 23rd 2018
AD Visions limited program manager Fikisha App Laban Muruthi explains how the application for ordering condoms online for mobile phones works. [David Gichuru/Standard]

Does the thought of buying condoms over the counter embarrass you? Do you find yourself buying almost everything in the supermarket or the pharmacy just to get a packet of condoms?

Well, someone has thought of unloading that burden for you, at your comfort and at the touch of a button, on your phone.

Fikisha is an app developed and intended to be navigated just like one would use the Uber taxi app, not to hail a cab but to buy different items such as condoms.

“This is an improvement from Dial-a-Condom because we realised that sometimes we could not locate a customer who called to request a condom delivery. With the app, we can see where the client is and deliver,” said Gladys Muthike, the head of sales for Ad Visions, the developers behind the Fikisha app.

Laban Muruthi, the programme manager, said the app targeted the youth, who are tech-savvy and will find it easy to use.

“The youth have been facing stigma when it comes to buying condoms over the counter. We expect that because they embrace technology better, this app will make more sense to them,” said Mr Muruthi.

Time bomb

The youth in Kenya are a ticking time bomb when it comes to HIV statistics as they account for 50 per cent of new infections, with 125 young people getting infected every day, according to data by the National Aids Control Council (NACC).

Muruthi explained how the app works. When one downloads it from the App Store or Play Store, they register either with their name or nickname, including a phone number on which they can be reached.

“Once logged in, go to products and select the brand and type of condoms that you want delivered. There are also lubricants and other wellness products that you can order,” he said.

“The order then goes to the nearest driver or sales agent who can deliver it within an hour. It is delivered in a plain and unlabelled envelope to maintain maximum privacy.”

The developers noted that the demand for condoms was highest towards weekend, and by persons who were busy in offices and desired privacy in getting such items.

Apart from products that address the sexual and reproductive health of users, Fikisha hopes to include reproductive health information, pregnancy test kits an HIV self-testing kits.

“This app will also create employment for the youth who can be sales agents or drivers. We’ll need to accredit them first before they are activated and given proper orientation as drivers,” Muruthi said.

Fikisha hopes to bridge that gap by making the items available as discreetly as possible and within one hour of ordering online.

Kenya HIV Private Business Council and NACC, with other partners, have supported the app, with the hope that it will address the embarrassment many feel when getting condoms, lubricants and other such items in public.

The developers said they hoped that this would be the game changer in halting HIV infections in the country. For young people, Fikisha could just deliver the solution they require...especially at that hour of need.

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