It has become a norm that owning a home in Kenya is preceded by a series of bureaucracies and hurdles. This setback is associated with the nature of the building and contracting market in the country, which, in most cases, is not friendly for people who want a solution that just works for them. This is the problem that iBuild, a multinational corporation that specializes in construction aims to solve.
The company, which launched its services in Kenya sometime in 2017, aims to make the process of owning a home a seamless exercise while giving customers the ability to customize their property in a way they deem fit.
According to Aggrey Wangwe, Marketing Director for iBuild Kenya, the firm offers alternative building technologies in a market that is struggling with housing. Among the issues that have curtailed housing development include ineffective housing processes with minimal to no accountability and painful stories.
“Kenyans hardly involve experts when developing property. They love running the projects themselves, include as many customizations as they can,” says Aggrey Wangwe.
iBuild has since launched an Android app that, at its basic level, functions as a platform for coordinating multiple development processes and value-chain actors, including homeowners, architects, construction workers and contractors, among others. Mr Wangwe cites the application is an ecosystem that will address pain points in a value chain. Homeowners can get an exact quote for a whole project and make financial arrangements and commitments.
Launched on 25th January 2019, the app has seen the creation of more than 300 projects with more than 200 bids.
Contractors, who can sign up for the service, are verified with the National Construction Authority (NCA) before they can post their profiles and jobs. At the same time, the platform allows construction workers or fundis to get access to posted jobs and collaborate on construction projects.
One key inclusion in the app is a digital wallet, which allows customers to remit funds to the contractor and workers without involving a third party. According to Mr Wangwe, the inclusion of a payment service addresses cases of delayed compensations. It is also worth noting that remittances are powered by M-PESA, although the firm is in the process of integrating additional payments channels that involve banks for larger payments, including a possible collaboration with Equity Bank and JamboPay.
It should be noted that the funds in the wallet are not held by iBuild but the service provider, which, in this case, is an M-PESA account.
Perhaps the most interesting aspect of the iBuild app is ratings, which is based on a 5-star model. Contractors who expertly and promptly perform their duties are rated highly, and vice versa. This, according to Mr Wangwe, helps in rewarding hardworking groups. Fundis are equally rated to help build their profile on the platform.
Ratings are augmented by geo-tagged pictures under a given profile, which a client can scroll through to verify the craftsmanship of vendors and workers.
“The customer gets transparency about the contractor or worker they are about to hire,” notes Mr Wangwe.
The Ministry of ICT has also partnered with iBuild to leverage the platform’s offerings based on Ajira’s goals of ensuring that the youth use digital services to gain a livelihood.
The iBuild app will be updated with a developer module in the future. The tool will include a dashboard that will should multiple milestone levels for developers who manage large projects.
The iOS equivalent of the app will also be released in the coming days. At the same time, iBuild is in the process of developing a web platform for the services mentioned.
Currently, the app is available in Kenya, the U.S., and U.K. It also targets Kenyans in those countries who can start a housing project without engaging third parties, some of which may not be up to the task.
You can download it here.