TasKwetu aims to let the Kenyan diaspora invest at home

How one startup is providing African diaspora with errand running, task management and tracking services in Kenya

Globalisation has accelerated the movement of people across national and continental boundaries. Some scholars have suggested that this movement results in a brain drain where professionals leave their countries for greener pastures abroad. Others have argued that the movement provides a good chance for those left behind to realise and use their human capital effectively.

But most importantly, there is evidence that migrants chart a beneficial path for their countries of origin, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa through remittances back home, bilateral trade and investment flows. Now a tech startup in Kenya, TasKwetu, has been launched to help facilitate all these things.

Started in 2014, the company aims to provide a professional link between Africans in Diaspora and countries back home, starting with Kenya.

“We are an innovative online errand running and tracking platform that offers professional and personalised services to make our clients lives’ easier,” Leila Khalif, the founder and CEO explains.

The African diaspora maintains a very strong link with home. These individuals play pivotal roles in the affairs of their extended families, clans, neighbourhoods and friends. But most importantly, they engage in local and national economic activities such as real estate, stock trading, educational and technological sponsorships, albeit remotely.

However, Kenyans in the diaspora have been victims of swindlers and cons and some have even lost their life savings from people they trust. This agonising experience can sometimes discourage them from investing back home.

“Through our website, we offer a transparent, easy-to-access, project tracking system that gives our clients perfect peace of mind to undertake their tasks – big or small – conveniently and affordably back In Kenya,” Khalif tells us.

According to a paper [PDF] published by United Nations Industrial Development Organisation, “Diasporas may facilitate the domestic firms’ access to technologies and skills through professional associations, temporary assignments of skilled expatriates in origin countries…”

“We persistently heard of how difficult it was to have a task completed either because of lack of time to run their errands or the distance away from home,” Khalif points out. “So we came up with TasKwetu for Kenyans to easily get their tasks done from the comfort of their computers.”

Khalif teamed up with two other professionals, Nderitu Edwin, who is head of business development and co-founder and Ivy Mburu, who is marketing and PR director, to provide a tech initiative that echoes not only fulfil the private sector’s needs but also the government’s aim of dealing with the diaspora.

“The number of Kenyans living abroad has grown bigger than some of our own counties here at home. Remittances from the diaspora were more than $1.43 billion in 2014 which translates to about 2.4% of [Kenyan] GDP. The 25% of this invested exceed what we get from foreign direct investment and it is time the country chose to focus on promoting more diaspora investment,” Family Bank CEO Peter Munyiri noted in a recent Diaspora Investment Conference in Nairobi.

The President of Kenya in the same conference underscored the importance of diaspora;

“In this process of integration the main thrust must be to unlock and maximise the hitherto untapped promise of the diaspora and use this energy to carry our country to greater heights, while at the same time meeting the needs and expectations of Kenyans abroad at every point in time,” Mr. Kenyatta said. 

How TasKwetu works

The startup uses online tools to offer services to a predominantly diaspora clientele as well as local citizens. The startup also offers document procurement and collection services such as driving licenses, work permits, passports, insurance, school and birth certificates.

For those in business, TasKwetu conducts name search, business registration and income tax returns filing. In its project management initiatives, it offers land acquisition and verification services, supervisory and recommendation services on fencing, sewer systems infrastructures and building and construction. It also provides consultancy services on investment opportunities.

“All a client has to do is to order a task on our website either clicking on the available categories of tasks or describing one, pay the service charge and track its progress through the same platform.” The client needs to create an account with his email and password. The tasks are done with feedbacks every step of the way.

After requesting for a service, the system will generate an instant order that the client normally pays through mobile money or online payment methods such as PayPal. But how much should one pay?

“Our competitive advantage is that our mainstream clients are Kenyans in the diaspora therefore making us the first online task management service company to fully engage with the diaspora,” says Khalif.

With competitors like Dash2do, KibaruaNow (both offline) and Sendy, Khalif is upbeat about TasKwetu’s chances of wider success. “Initially, our goal was to get people signing up with our platform, and then from the sign up we would transform them into our early adopters and then convert them into return customers. We had 300 signups, 50 turned out to be early adopters and 40 are return clients,” Khalif smiles.

The startup has been able to raise funds through business incubation and accelerators both locally and internationally. It was able to raise a million shillings (about $10,000) from Nailab (business incubation and accelerator in Nairobi and one of their main business partner and investor) and Brand Spark

The startup like all others has had its unique challenges. Dealing with remote clients from the diaspora needs a careful and a professional approach;

“Gaining trust from our clients has been the main challenge; we mitigate this through our high standards of professionalism extended to our early adopters who in return spread the message across.”

“In future we aim at achieving increased recognition in Kenya and globally as a quality online task management, concierge and tracking platform that observes high standards of professionalism,” Khalif concludes.