Tanda, a Kenyan platform designed to make it easier to run a shop by allowing shop owners order and manage their inventory has launched after a four-month pilot with 200 kiosks spread across Kayole, Kawangware and Kariobangi.
With an undisclosed seed round from White Rhino Ventures, the platform is launching out of beta after the four-month pilot having worked with 5 wholesalers with a large footprint in Nairobi.
“Tanda offers the widest product range,” says Geoffrey Mulei, Tanda’s founder and CEO. “We are the fastest online inventory delivery service on the continent (Under 1 hour) and we are the first inventory service to offer an automated credit facility.”
“Tanda is the first Inventory delivery service to give the retailer the ability to vend digital financial services,” he adds.
With the platform, a shop owner can order all the goods they need for their kiosk and receive free same day delivery, with the added benefit of vending digital financial services eg Airtime, Utilities such as power and water bill payment, Banking and Insurance services.
Tanda was inspired by the need to solve some of the most recurring inventory problems faced by micro-retailers.The founder, Geoffrey Mulei, spent most of his childhood helping out at a kiosk. He got a front row seat to some of the challenges micro-retailers face when sourcing for inventory and running their business. Stemming from his passion for solving problems and technology, Mr. Mulei set out to design a solution that could make it easier to run a kiosk, using his experience in running a shop as a reference.
At the moment, the Tanda app comes with the following features;
Shop owners rarely know how much inventory they have at any given time up until they run out. We’ve designed a simpler way for them to record all their sales allowing them to know how much they’re stocking from anywhere and at any given time. Once they are almost out of a product, it alerts them and prompts them to reorder.
Traditionally, a shop owner has to make at least 5 calls before they get access to a commodity they’ve run out of. The firm has designed a simple way that connects the retailer with tanda’s network of suppliers, allowing the shop owner to get any good delivered to their outlet in under 1? hour
Many shop owners run out of stock and often do not have the money to reorder causing most of them to miss out on many sale opportunities. Leveraging historical purchasing data, Tanda allows retailers to order goods on credit and pay later.
The Tanda Wallet turns a kiosk into a one stop shop for popular digital financial services. Customers can now buy all airtime, pay their water & electricity bill and access banking & insurance services at a Tanda Agent.
Prior to Tanda, Mr. Mulei started his first company, Inkisha , dealing in environmentally friendly packaging, where he led a 3 year campaign to phase out plastic packaging in Kenya, earning him several major local and international awards. Mr. Mulei is now considered among the top 12 most influential social entrepreneurs in Africa and recently named among the to 40 under 40 men in Kenya by Business Daily.
In Africa’s cities alone there are more than 10 million informal shops selling over $180 billion worth of goods every year. Despite their importance to local economies, these shops routinely stock out of products, have limited access to financial services, and lack proper business management tools.
Tanda aims to end these problems. The service is free for retailers and it only draws a commission from it’s network of suppliers on every good ordered by retailers. Because smartphone penetration isn’t that high among micro-retailers, Tanda’s pilot merchants received a free smartphone to get started. Post pilot, Tanda has partnered with micro-lending firm Lipa later? to get kiosk owners a smartphone that they can pay for overtime for up to 2 years. Tanda’s ?primary target is existing retailers with fully operational semi-formal retail outlets.
“Our primary market, Kenya, has over 100,000 semi-formal outlets. Our platform will accomodate shop owners across all segments right from informal kiosks in low income kiosks up to minimarts,” says Mulei. “Tanda will offer its retailers an affordable and reliable platform for sourcing goods, access to financing to help them buy more, sell more and grow their business and more resellable Digital financial services such as KPLC tokens on which they can earn commission and lastly, tools that make it easier to manage their business and make critical decisions.”
Mulei, a serial entrepreneur with several businesses to his name says Tanda is special to him because he has always been passionate about technology and solving problems. Prior to Tanda, he only had the opportunity to do either but for the first time in his life, he has the opportunity to do both.
“I can’t guarantee that this will be my last project, but what I can say for certain, given the infinite possibilities this could end up becoming, is that I will be at Tanda for a very long time,” he said.
Tanda is backed by White Rhino Ventures and also works with On Demand Mobile, Google MB, Pesapoint, Surf and Ddaas as its partners.
The youthful entrepreneur says he is inspired by the likes of Elon Musk of Tesla, Jeff Bezos of Amazon and Jack Ma of Alibaba, he has studied their work extensively and applies some of their principles in his work. A big part of Tanda’s supply chain model is built around Alibaba’s aggregation model. Tanda also plans to visit the Alibaba HQ in June this year to pursue a partnership to help them roll out across the continent.
With the seed funding from White Rhino Ventures, Tanda aims to roll out across Kenya in the next few months then expand into 4 more countries in Q3 2019 after a Series A funding round.
For retailers in marginalised areas with no or little access to to 4G, 3G and even 2G networks, Tanda has a simpler version of its services on a USSD platform that’s currently being tested.
With a team of 50 spread across the country and 8 fulltime at its head office in Westlands, Nairobi, Tanda is working to grow the basket of digital financial services accessible at a Tanda Agent with a strong focus on Microbanking and Microinsurance services. In the coming months, users will be able to get a small loan or renew their health insurance policy in just a few seconds at a kiosk.
“We believe that kiosks are more than just where people get goods. Tanda kiosks will be a community’s access point for essential digital financial services that people need to get by. We also have a customer facing side in concept stage. It will be possible to shop online on Jumia or Masoko and get your items delivered to your local Tanda shop or get your mail delivered here,” concluded Mulei.