Lipa Na Mpesa
Stephen Githinji inside his workshop in Ruiru . The trader builds and Sells ATM machines on Facebook

So you are fresh out of campus where you received your Bachelor’s degree in Finance and business management. You have done yourself well and your parents are especially proud of you for bringing in the first degree in the family. You are confident that you are cut for a bright future and this is your moment to shine.

Four months down the line, you complete your internship at a top state parastatal. Your employer is happy with your work and has decided to offer you a permanent and pensionable position.

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Nonetheless, you have sat down with yourself and decided that an 8 -5 doesn’t quite tickle your fancy, so you have turned down the offer. You say you want to start a business, you want to live the Kenyan dream.

Meanwhile, many of your peer graduates, don’t even know how the inside of a corporate office looks like thanks to the spate of joblessness in the country – which is quite a pity.

But then there’s you and your ideas of prosperity, underpinned by a healthy disregard for formal employment. Your unemployed friends think you’re crazy, but you convince yourself that you know what you’re doing.

So you have started your business. That was the easy part. The product that you’re selling is a Milk and Salad Oil ATM vending machine which is supposed to enable other small business owners to generate cash. The price tag for this machine is in excess of Ksh 100,000 which makes it quite an expensive investment for your target customers who include small shops in rural areas.

But as a natural-born salesman, you have the convincing power such that any customer who visits your shop almost always ends up buying your hyped ATM machine to prop up their own enterprises.

Lipa Na M-Pesa
Milk and Salad Oil ATM vending machines on display at Githini’s workshop. A 100L Machine will go for about Ksh 100,000

However, just like any other business, sometimes it gets dry. So you decide to expand your empire and your solution is moving your ATM business online.

You marinate it with perfectly curated marketing campaigns and powerful Facebook adverts so it becomes almost an instant hit. Business is booming; your shop, located in Ruiru, is getting inquiries from as far as Garissa, Mandera, Kisumu and all over the country.

Whenever you lock down a sale, your customer is expected to produce a down payment of at least half the total cost (Ksh 50,000) in order to meet your production cost of the ATM Machine. After this, you usually organize for a delivery right to your customer’s doorstep upon which they are expected to clear the pending balance. 

But there’s a problem. The customers you have just won over, neither want to make the down payment directly to your M-PESA account nor to deposit it to your bank account. They smell a rat. They are not buying your method and they assume you may be one of the common online fraudsters out to rob them clean.

You can’t blame them, after all, how can you expect someone miles away – someone you’ve never met – to send through such an amount without feeling tingly. Also, a trip to the bank is understandably a tedious undertaking considering that your customers are busy people and no one has the time to go queuing up at the bank.

Consequently, most of your online orders end up getting canceled at the final step simply because your customers are skeptical of your payment channels. If this trend continues, you may soon be out of business, you tell yourself.

This is the sort of dilemma that Mr. Stephen Githinji, the Managing director of SASET technical services a firm that manufactures Milk, Salad Oil and Water ATM machines struggled with.

“I think at that time I had foregone revenues in excess of Ksh 500,000 owing to this issue,” he says.

But the difference-maker in this case, which would propel the business from stagnation to prosperity was as simple as getting a trustworthy payments channel, one that plugs seamlessly into his customers lives. Mr. Githinji moved to procure a Lipa Na M-Pesa till number and since then, his fortunes have changed.

“People need to make payments without risk,” he says. Since he incorporated the Till Number, his online sales make up at least 80% of his entire portfolio, channeling out nearly Ksh 4 Million last year alone.

It also vastly expanded the playground for his ATM business by enabling him to sell beyond Ruiru and the Nairobi region.

Furthermore, the Lipa Na M-Pesa Channel has enabled Mr. Githinji to create a credit history which would assist him to borrow a bank loan for future plans to expand his enterprise.

The 27-year-old father of one is among the 140,000 entrepreneurs who have adopted Lipa Na M-Pesa on the grounds of security, convenience, and cost at the same time expanding their customer bases. Over time, more customers are likely to opt for the safety and convenience of such e-payments.

When payments dematerialize, and when they can be channeled through a trusted channel like Lipa Na M-Pesa, customers are less venerable to theft.

That was the big secret. But the advantages of e-payments grow ever more apparent as they effectively cut delays and reduce corruption; bringing many shadowy transactions into the formal auditable channels.

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