The ever-evolving technology space has created a platform enabling young innovators to develop applications earning thousands of shillings.
24-year-old Wilfred Chege is one such tech entrepreneur earning a living from a mobile application solving a need in the market.
He is the founder of ShuleMall Limited, an online e-commerce shopping platform that targets learners, allowing them to source study materials directly from producers.
The business focuses on supplying learners with school materials ranging from, supermarket products, bus tickets, textbooks, and uniforms, among other necessities required in learning institutions.
"When I was in Form Three at Nakuru High School, I developed an online shopping platform with the help of my fellow learners, at the time we were contesting against other schools under a young achievers’ program sponsored by a bank, but my school emerged the second, after the contest we were unable to continue with the program," he recalled of his tech journey.
After completing high school in 2018, he decided to modernise the application to earn a living out of it.
He decided to choose a different career path from what his grandfather wanted.
His grandfather, a retired banker wanted Chege to be a doctor or a banker but instead, he decided to venture into his business as he waited to join the university.
Being an entrepreneur, he says is inborn. He said created a friendly environment to enable him to take the risk.
Chege was able to develop ShuleMall, which now has four employees and offers internships to tech students.
He developed the application with Sh1 million and spent Sh3 million to market it. The capital, he says, was acquired through an investor who helped in funding the project.
ShuleMall limited App has 11,000 downloads both from IOS and Android with 3,500 monthly active users with orders ranging from 1,000 to 1,500 per month.
With the application, students can order the supplies online and pay via E-wallet, M-pesa, or cash on delivery, with the retailer being able to restock and manage cash flow and inventories.
Monthly, the company collects between Sh3 and Sh4 million which in turn, Chege will be paid about 12 per cent of the money received.
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The kind of growth rate the tech business is expected for start-ups to grow, he said is very accelerated, unlike other SMES which can take many years to grow.
“With tech, it is expected to scale 100 times faster than other SMEs to serve globally, which brings challenges when attracting the right talents who are willing to work and put in the energy and enthusiasm,” Chege said.
At that time, he wasn't aware of Microsoft which has been helpful to local innovators through funding and technical assistance. Chege's applications are hosted by Microsoft.
Chege is also a co-founder of Zendawa online pharmacy which supplies drugs to remote villages locally.
He explained that capital is a huge factor that an entrepreneur should put in place before starting a business to avoid working on an application without completing the same.
Policies, he said that was a test for his business given that the business target audience was students being beneficiaries with contracts being between parents and the company.
“We had to work out policies to ensure that we arrive on the legal side, with proper systems in place to ensure we don't flout the law, by being in compliance,” he added.
Being an alumnae mentor, he goes to schools to empower learners and has since been appointed as a jury member for Africa global starters to enable young entrepreneurs to get funding.
His greatest success is working with young entrepreneurs and innovators in guiding them through their journey.
According to Chege, technology is like a nuclear explosion which has both positive and negative impacts.
He believed that it changes, with its potential, elevate lives by connecting and enabling one to earn within the globe, but when placed in the wrong hands can become catastrophic.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), he added, will bring a fourth industrial revolution, that will disrupt everything but the market will adjust.
Chege says entrepreneurs in the tech industry should be ahead in coming up with solutions, with him adopting to avoid being irrelevant.
“With AI, we need to be on top of it, by knowing what it does, if you understand what it does, it will not interrupt your business, be on the right of the history and adopt, we are affected by it, but we have positioned ourselves to handle it by being ahead of it,” he explained.
He wished to have learned earlier the importance of teamwork being the cornerstone while starting the project.
Many innovators, he said, focus on vision and neglect working on relationships instead of working as a team to accomplish the dream.
“Tech is involved, it is an emotional roller-coaster without a team, the work will become difficult, one should invest in team build, and things will fall in place,” he said.
Research also, he added, is another factor that will help in understanding the market and the audience needs to ensure that the service offered is in line with the customers' wants.
Youth and tech, he said, are the key to getting right what the previous generations were unable to accomplish, where they believe in themselves in terms of entrepreneurship and are highly connected globally.
Enabling policies such as tax exemption he explained should be put in place to allow youth in business to accomplish their dreams.