Story Of Persistance: How A Kenyan “Villager” Built a World Class Startup

Paykind’s co founders, CEO Rodgers Muhandi(left) and CTO Samuel Masinde doing a presentation during the launch of Paykind yesterday
Paykind’s co founders, CEO Rodgers Muhandi(left) and CTO Samuel Masinde doing a presentation during the launch of Paykind yesterday
Paykind’s co founders, CEO Rodgers Muhandi(left) and CTO Samuel Masinde doing a presentation during the launch of Paykind yesterday

Last night saw the launch of Paykind, an online e-voucher platform that provides for transparent, track-able mobile payment. How? One can instantly send vouchers to beneficiaries via SMS, which can then be redeemed by the beneficiaries at any of the certified Paykind vendors across the country. All a vendor needs to do to accept the SMS vouchers is a smartphone with the Paykind application. According to Paykind’s co-founder and CEO, Mr. Rodgers Muhandi, over 50% of money sent is used to take care of people’s needs, be it food, healthcare, education or agricultural needs, however you can never be 100% sure that your money is spent on what it was meant for. “This is what inspired us to create this.” , he says.

Citing examples of when Kenyans pulled together and donated for well deserving causes like theKenyans for Kenya campaign and the recent #1MilliForJadudi, Rodgers showed how we are geared towards empathy.However, this is exploited severally, and people lose their money to greedy con men. This really makes you question whether your money is being spent  for the right cause. “We are seeking to solve such issues,  situations where organizations and individuals are losing money.”

Paykind aims to focus on humanitarian agencies. More and more agencies are sending cash to provide aid to a group of people as it is often better for it offers immediate relief, as opposed to waiting for shipment and delivery of  physical aid. Being able to send cash and being confident it is used in the right way is a solution that Paykind aims to offer. Not only constrained to humanitarian efforts, Paykind  can also offer the service to corporates in instances where they want to give out discounts to the masses, in the case of promoting their products.

“We aim to take away losses incurred from corruption, distribution costs and overhead costs. That is what Paykind is here to do. It is a solution that uses the internet, smartphone technology and simple SMS to make sure you pay for people’s needs directly without sending them money and being able to track it making sure that it is spent in the right way”. Rodgers Muhandi, CEO Paykind.

So how does it work? On visiting their site, you can sign in as an organization or a vendor. If you are a humanitarian group, you can then create a voucher to send to a selected beneficiary. Once you choose the number of beneficiaries to send the voucher to, the amount is credited from your account. They receive the voucher as an SMS. With this, they go to the selected registered vendors, to redeem the voucher and  get the aid specified by the voucher. The vendor logs onto the platform and keys in the voucher code. Once validated, the vendor then gives the beneficiary the aid specified. Later on, the vendor can chose to claim the voucher, and a request is sent to Chase bank to pay the vendor the amount of the claim.

Chase Bank Head of Innovation, Lillian Kiplagat says that Chase Bank backs startups that have two things. ” One is that they actually solve a need in the ecosystem or society, which Paykind does. The second is the people, the protagonists, the leaders of the startup or organization.” She said the constant persistence to arrange a meeting by Rodgers and Sam Masinde, the CTO made her team want to see what they had to offer.

“Before the meeting was over, we knew that this was something we wanted to go with. As Chase Bank, we are a little part of the greatness that PayKind is and we are happy to be a part of that.” Chase Bank has always set its self apart from other financial institutions by offering support to SMEs and tech entrepreneurs, especially in financial tech where they offer integration opportunities, something Paykind has taken advantage of.

CEO of Nailab, Sam Gichuru told of the journey that Rodgers Muhandi went through to get Paykind to where it is now. From virtual incubation at Nailab for a year as Rodgers lived in Nakuru (Sam calls him a villager for that!), to his persistence in getting his idea funded by Savannah Fund and being one of the two African startups to be incubated at 500 startups in Silicon Valley,  San Francisco, Sam said that the founders character played a big role in the success of the company.

When Rodgers came to him with an idea of a loyalty card that people could use at different petrol stations-which clearly would beat the point of it, being ‘loyal’-he knew that there was a lot to be done to come up with a viable idea. Luckily, Rodgers was open to criticism and advice. This saw the move of his solution to a card to be used by students instead of pocket money to Paykind.

If this is not testament to the struggles and challenges that a startup and its founders has to go through to get to be a worthwhile and successful product, then I do not know what is. Paykind hopes to restore people’s faith and confidence in giving aid as you can finally be sure that your money is making a difference.