Catalyzing the growth of small businesses in Kenya

Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs
4 min readNov 12, 2019

Authored by: Josphine Kiruku — Communications Lead, Youth Impact Labs

It’s 8:00 am in Kenya’s Thika town, a bustling industry town that is just 40km outside of Nairobi. Alex is ready to open his electronic shop which has been experiencing poor sales returns over the last couple of months. It has not always been like this for Alex but the recent delays in importing and clearing goods at the port has cost him his clientele and seen his revenues decrease sharply over the past 9 months. It’s tough luck for Alex since the counterfeit and contraband menace facing traders like him has continued to hurt his business. Given the challenges he is facing, customer traffic has reduced and Alex is forced to adjust the shop’s operating hours down to 8 hours instead of his usual twelve. He knows that the current trend poses a threat to maintaining and adding new staff. However, thanks to a strong business acumen, an optimistic Alex understands that he needs to devise sustainable solutions to keep his business afloat and maintain the jobs he has created.

Ground-breaking solution

Diversifying his services topped the list for Alex when it came to sustaining his business. So when Getboda, a smart on-demand logistics platform, approached him with a partnership proposal, he viewed this as a path to his big break. Alex agreed to a partnership with them. What this meant for Alex is he no longer had to depend on one revenue stream and his brand’s visibility would grow beyond his regular clientele.

Getboda partners with experienced and reliable couriers to offer e-commerce, food delivery and courier services with the aim of improving lives. They provide delivery solutions for e-commerce companies, but they recently launched a partnership with micro-traders like Alex. This allows GetBoda to leverage existing infrastructure while at the same time allowing micro-traders to diversify their business offerings and generate more income.

An opportunity for growth

To date, Alex has handled a total of six hundred parcels. Customer foot-traffic has increased and working hours have also risen to twelve. On one hand, Alex is able to continually increase his income while Getboda is able to expand its delivery network, making it a big facilitator of e-commerce in a city that is quickly embracing the digital economy.

What the future holds

As a result of this partnership, Alex anticipates that his monthly revenue will increase by 60%. In future, he hopes to diversify his business and increase his stock to enable him to handle more than 1500 parcels. Additionally, owing to his partnership with Getboda, Alex also hopes to open more branches in various locations across the country. It is through such collaboration as Getboda’s and Alex’s that businesses in the informal sector will create job opportunities for the youth.

Over the next 1 year, Getboda plans on scaling up its micro-trader partnerships to around 100 partners. They’ll be focusing more on locations outside of Nairobi, targeting cities with the highest populations and internet penetration; Mombasa, Nakuru, Naivasha, Meru, Machakos and Nanyuki are in our plans before the end of 2019. Additionally, they’re looking into finding additional revenue streams for their pick up station partners, for example, offering the same service to micro m-commerce companies (a business that trades on social media). Another possibility is selling the service to large logistics services like Fargo or DHL to increase their parcel volumes.

The future is bright for Getboda since as a result of a recently signed MOU with Opibus to electrify their fleet, in partnership with Siemens and a green fund called Carbon, they will be building and supplying 30 lucky motorcycle drivers on their platform with 30 electric motor-bikes for free. Andrew Miller, the Founder of Getboda said that they are very keen on this because they believe in electric mobility and its profound effect on their partners’ bottom line income.

About Youth Impact Labs

Through the Google.org-funded Youth Impact Labs program, Mercy Corps has supported Getboda to develop an integrated pick up station software that will help manage multiple corporate and SME clients through one system. The software will handle multiple pick-up hub locations and assist Getboda in expanding their pick up station locations and onboard SME partners to have their premises become drop off locations for their clients.

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Mercy Corps Youth Impact Labs

Funded by Google.org, Youth Impact Labs identifies and tests creative, tech-enabled solutions to tackle global youth unemployment and accelerate job creation