Village. Sounds old fashioned right? Something only our parents and a number of us know all too well from experience. However people like me, those born and breed in cities, may not clearly appreciate the concept of a village, but we are accustomed to making something close to it. As human beings, we look for a sense of belonging in a community. As city dwellers, we strive to connect with our neighbors and friends. If we feel our neighbors are too pushy or weird or suspicious, we ignore them and run to the Internet to our very own virtual community created on social media. It is a desire we cannot extinguish because of the value we get from a community, whether it is a sense of belonging, the feeling that someone has your back or the feeling that you can count on someone to help you further your life and especially the fact that you have a lower chance of going hungry if you are part of a tight nit community. We need community and LIVELUVO’s objective is to take us back to the village.
No I don’t mean going back to upcountry and living out our days farming and meeting under trees to discuss why the rain hasn’t dropped by yet, but having certain elements of a village accessible to you right at your fingertips. For example, the value of learning from our elders, and in the case of LIVELUVO learning from the experts, the value of exchanging services and products as a farmer would with a carpenter and the value of sharing and building something together which you can do on LIVELUVO, bringing you closer to the people around you and might I say, your digital village.
LIVELUVO is developed and hosted in the UK for Kenya by their parent company Satkirit Ltd. They view Kenya as a launching pad. Based on its success here, they wish to move it across Africa, Latin America and India, places they say that they have already established teams on advisory roles.
Social media or E commerce?
“We want to focus on services, skills and knowledge. We want people to interact on those pillars. We want people to offer services, teach a craft in exchange of money or another skill.”
In a previous article I discussed the relationship between social media and e commerce, specifically what social media as done for e commerce in Kenya and when I downloaded this app, I found myself questioning where LIVELUVO stands. There is the element of e commerce, as it says you can earn using LIVELUVO. There is also an element of community and sharing, which moves this app towards having a social media component. On seeking clarification, I was told that neither is it a social media platform, nor is it an e commerce site, rather it is a digital village. What does that even mean? I asked. The answer, it a community network.
Users on LIVELUVO can post services they can offer and set a time for the duration that offer is available. Once the offer is placed, other users can view it and chat about the offer with the one who posted it and others who might be interested in the same. A private chat session is also available where you can chat directly with the giver of the offer. You can refine the kind of offers you wish to see based on distance, categories (skill set, service or product), newest listed offer first or those offers that are about to expire.
Compensation? Well that depends on you. You can chose to offer your services for money or do the traditional barter trade. Using the analogy of a situation in an actual village where a carpenter is looking for medical services while a doctor is looking for a chair. They can exchange one service for another. Therefore depending on what you are looking for, the choice is on you.
What kind of offers can you see on LIVELUVO? A few examples I can currently see include 35 under 35 Mentor ship Program on offer by Gideon Keter, new business coaching by Sijmen which is free, portrait drawing by Mathews Matt, handwoven and homemade carpets by James and even a book club which seems pretty active all in the app. The point of this is to create an area where everyone can share their skills and abilities, what they can do and what they can share together, for example sharing book reading experiences.
This I feel makes this app more than a classifieds app. It is beautifully designed with emphasis on chat, discovery and interaction. The more the app is used, the better it will understand the kind of offers you wish to view. However it wasn’t always like this.
LIVELUVO began operations in September and since then, they have taken a lot of feedback from users to see how they can better make the app work for you. I felt like it was a hot mess, with unnecessary features and fields that were not activated when I first downloaded it. It was too much. Gladly last week they did a major update and shed off most of those feature and left those that had potential to grow.
They didn’t just do the update and leave it like that. No, they went a step further. They went to Safaricom, Airtel, Orange and Equitel in order to send all those who had installed the app, 20 MB worth of data to update the app. This was a costly affair but one that they say was worth it. A majority of their users updated the app and those who had uninstalled it reinstalled it. They loved the fact that people still favored their app and believed in the usability of it, otherwise this would not necessarily happen. I think this was the smart move as it reminded people of LIVELUVO, something that is important for an app to continue growing.
Next for LIVELUVO
A web version is in the works and so are apps on other operating systems. Currently it is only available on Android OS. What else? The plan on continuing to empower their target market. Those in low income situations and students all who wish to find ways of earning living or mastering a certain skill.
They are targeting learning institutions, with Zetech University already on board. According to Frankline Kibuacha who deals with digital marketing for LIVELUVO, “Zetech want to make LIVELUVO a part of them because they believe in the entrepreneurial side of it, which will allow students to learn skills and make meaningful connections.”
They were quick to admit that it hasn’t been easy for them. Uptake of the app has been something of a challenge. So far they have 5000 installs from September and experienced some considerable growth after the update. They hope to get 500,000 users by the end of year, something that they are working hard by creating awareness and adapting their app according to user preferences
Another challenge is on how to shape the objective of their app. I asked for further explanation on that. Apparently, on launch, people mostly used the app to advertise products but they wanted it to be more than that. “We are phasing our products in the app. We want to focus on services, skills and knowledge. We want people to interact on those pillars. We want people to offer services, teach a craft in exchange of money or another skill.”
Why are they concentrating a lot of services and skill set teaching? Well because they want to empower people. They want those who are experts in their fields to come in and help those trying something out to do so correctly and reach a position they can earn for themselves. Just like a young boy learns from his grandfather how to prepare land for farming, so can a young budding entrepreneur learn from a business man how to start and grow a business. This my friends is what makes LIVELUVO different from a social media platform and a simple e commerce site. LIVELUVO will allow you to connect, learn and then earn.
If you haven’t already, download the app and be part of the LIVELUVO digital village.