Safiri Salama launches Kenya's first end-of-life services platform

By - Jan 1st 1970

Losing a loved one is a jarring experience. It is easy to find oneself adrift while dealing with the immediate aftermath and the onset of grief, especially when also faced with the prospect of making funeral arrangements.

Where do you begin? How much money will be needed for a death notice? What is the best medium for it, newspaper? Radio? Where to find a coffin? Which mortuary to use?

When John Nyongesa first conceived, it was with questions such as these in mind., Kenya’s first end-of-life services platform, aims to “enable families to manage the difficult journey of bereavement with ease.” It takes its name from the Swahili words 'Safiri Salama', which translate to 'Go in peace' and 'Travel safely', which are often used as farewell to the deceased.

It offers digital death notices, memorials and— perhaps most crucially, a catalogue of funeral service providers like coffin-makers, florists and morticians. Homepage.

“We envisioned it as the first meeting point,” says John Nyongesa, the founder and CEO. “Most families end up planning the funeral through WhatsApp. Even then, you want to do something special for your loved one, but this is probably something you haven’t done before, so it presents a challenge.”

“Grieving families face difficulty conducting proper research and often ‘pressure buy’ due to a lack of published prices in the funeral industry,” he adds.

It is much easier to have it all in one place. To bring together the vendors and those seeking their services.

“There is also a culture of silence and sensitivity around death, which means we are unwilling to linger on the details or even haggle over the price of something like a coffin. Sellers know this, so they exploit you.”


The original spark that turned into came from a personal moment. Back in 2018, Nyongesa realised, when his son asked him why his late grandfather was not online, that he needed a way to keep the memory alive. He got to work on a personal memorial website which eventually became

The eventual features were informed by research, testing and input from bereaved families and funeral service providers. In 2021, Nyongesa was joined by Steve Lelei, an actuarial scientist, and Edith Orwako, a Project Manager, as co-founders. Co Founders - Steve Lelei(L), John Nyongesa (C), Edith Orwako (R)

The need for the site was solidified by the Covid-19 pandemic. Faced with a lockdown which made it difficult for Kenyans to meet in person, it was a game-changer. And it is this desire to redefine the culture of death that drives the death-tech company.

“We are trying to change the way we approach death as Africans,” says Nyongesa. “We are trying to make a very unwieldy industry join the tech revolution.”

The end-of-life industry in Africa has undergone significant changes with the demographic shift, urbanization and growth of a free-market economy. The industry, now estimated to be worth $450 Million (KShs 56 billion) annually, is still in its infancy, however, as players reckon with the evolution in market trends. Consider, for instance, the shrinking reach of traditional media such as newspaper and radio, which are still the go-to for death notices. Factor in the growing reach of social media, with its affordability and reach. Clearly, the industry is due a shake-up.

Honouring the dead

Nyongesa was also inspired by conversations with friends who had also lost loved ones, and by the realisation that so much of what is shared in the period of mourning is lost in its immediate aftermath.

“Many Kenyans use Whatsapp to communicate and plan funerals. They also share photos, memories and stories. But as soon as the funeral is done, the group is deleted, along with everything in it. Where do all these things go? So I thought it would be good to provide a platform for this data to live on.” offers a Memorial Service, a noticeboard on which users can share their experiences of their loved one.

As Nyongesa notes: “Your family has a narrow perspective of you. The people who know you very well may know you better than your family. All these people would otherwise have no space to mourn.”

“Someone will pen a tribute from halfway across the world, some information even the family knew nothing about. The Memorial page allows us to see people in totality.”

To this end, presents a rare opportunity to preserve the history of Africans.

“We don't have individual histories for many Africans. Many don't write their history when they are alive. We write their history in their funeral programs. But those hard copies got lost. If every year we got 5000 people uploading funeral programs, then we're also making it easier for someone searching on Google to find information on the deceased. This is information that might never be found anywhere else.”

As a way of honouring the dead, Nyongesa made a decision to make a celebration, and not a “site for the dead.”

“We didn't want a site for dead people. We want to celebrate life, so we made the colours warm, and the photos vibrant,” he says. “We also made the decision not to have advertisements on the memorial pages or death notices. We feel it is important to have respect, to treat it with sombreness.” rolled out its beta version in November 2022 and is currently undergoing a 12-month introduction and consolidation campaign in Kenya before expanding to other African markets. The platform has raised $100,000 (Ksh 12.4 Million) in early-stage funding from a US angel investor to complete prototype development.

Share this story