By Macharia Kamau
The traditional fundraising has not been left behind in the technology craze and is jumping on the bandwagon.
A local IT start up has designed an SMS based fund raising product that it says can manage a fundraiser from the start to end, in an efficient and cost effective way.
The product allows users to initiate a fund-raiser, starting with notification to family and friends that are on your phonebook through a text message. It also enables them to send their contribution through mobile money platforms and sends frequent updates on the contributions.
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M-Changa was launched about a month ago and the firm running it said it has so far been used by 300 people for different fundraisers ranging from weddings, funeral and school fees.
Kyai Mullei, chief executive Mobi Changa Ltd, the firm that owns the product, said there has been growing interest in the product and on average people a day have been signing up to use the product.
He is counting on the fact that fundraisers by individuals and groups have been embedded in the Kenyan culture to be a key driver for the success of the product.
Mullei said M-Changa replicated the traditional fundraising concept, only that it eliminated the inefficiencies, inconveniencies and some of the costs associated with the old model.
“M-Changa is a mobile fundraising product that gives people a platform to manage a fundraiser from the start to end. It fits into the traditional model of fundraising and does not aim to replace it but enhance it and make the load light for the people involved,” he said.
“When designing the product, we took into consideration the steps that are there in a typical fundraiser and embedded them in the application. It thus follows the natural steps in a fundraiser, there will be regular updates to the people who to how much has been collected.”
Being SMS based, the product is compatible with all phones and does not require Internet connectivity.
“We felt that an SMS-based platform was the best because it can be used on any phone. We had the option of doing an application but then that would only be available to people with smart phones,” said Mullei.
“So far over 300 people have managed their fundraisers on the platform in the last one month that it has been live and have been fairly successful. We are currently adding another five people every day that want to do fundraisers the platform.”
“People are slowly warming up to the product but it was initially a challenge. Many are sceptical especially about the security of their money, especially who is holding it. But it is a transaction like any other mobile money transaction to a pay bill number and we do not handle the money.”
He added that his firm monitors transactions to prevent crimes including fraud and money laundering. “We also reserve to monitor the movement of money to prevent abuse of the platform by malicious people,” said Mullei.
The product is currently available on Safaricom’s M-Pesa and Airtel Money.
The person initiating a fundraiser pays Sh2 per text message send to family and friends on his phone book, which is Sh1 above the average text message rates. On withdrawing the fundraiser contributions, one pays Sh20 above the rates charged by mobile money transfer services.
“We are looking at being a top of the mind product for anybody doing a fundraiser... there are 30 million mobile phone users in Kenya and I think we can get at least 20 per cent of these to use the product at least once a year,” said Mullei.