Meet the Uber Rich


The valuation of Uber is poised to hit an eye-popping $17 billion in its latest round of funding. (Update: the company confirmed this valuation, along with the round of $1.2 billion in new funding, on Friday.) That makes the four-year-old black car startup one of the most valuable private technology companies in the world. As a result, the startup’s early investors, whose shares are now worth as much as 2,000x their initial investment, are looking pretty smart.

Similar to the way early bets on Facebook [fortune-stock symbol=”FB”] solidified the status of top-tier investors like Jim Breyer, Marc Andreessen, Peter Thiel, Reid Hoffman, and David Sze, Uber is the game-changing home run for dozens of angel investors.

Set aside whether Uber’s $17 billion pre-money valuation is too frothy. After all, this latest round of funding will be led by mutual funds, which have a different return profile than seed-stage investors.

As Fortune noted in February, Uber’s first…

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Safaricom Sending Panic Message To Competitors.

Seven years ago if you told anyone in Kenya that they could send money from their phone, they could tell you in a peculiar swahili  “wacha za ovyo” (which me tell me something necessary) yet Safaricom made that a necessity.

New Sim cards to empower NFC Payments

New Sim cards to empower NFC Payments

What if today I told you very soon you will walk in to any supermarket and tap your “Mulika Mwizi phone ” (Nokia 3310) enter your M-Pesa pin and you’re shopping is paid? … Yah!! That is what’s why Nakummat is Camping on Central Bank of Kenya’s doors pledging for that MMT license.  The same goes for public transport that is largely dominated by BebaPay passengers will  just tap their phone to the tout phones and its paid thanks to a New SIM card that incorporate NFC chip. With this SIM card operators will not need to issue new NFC based Card like bebaPay in addition the reader can be SIM based and a common phone can be a POS highly reducing the cost of starting such a business at one point Bebapay had hired the POS.

The technology has been in testing for some years and has seen the support of 45 Operators including Orange and Vodafone the mother of Safaricom at the time of this report Kencel , Celtel ,  Zain , Airtel were notability absent 😉

The technology, however, is not compatible with Apple’s iOS platform because iOS devices such as the iPhone 4 use micro SIM cards which are smaller than the regular card. This limits the space needed to embed the antenna, NFC chip and USIM chip.

Study in South Korea, has hit historic milestone by garnering over 100,000 Visa account holders with SIM-based mobile payment within a very small time.

NFC-times states that 21million NFC SIM cards were shipped in 2012 by South Korea and Japan so like M-Pesa technology that had been implementation in Philippine, this will not be the first implementation but the first mass acceptance if the Kenyan nature of been “peculiar characters” is anything to go by.

MyTaxi a leading Taxi hailing app in Kenya has announced it support and willingness to be in the testing on it over 200 taxi’s in Nairobi.

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The pro’s and con’s of Investing in the Matatu Industry.

Wambururu's Blog

{This article has been re-posted to answer some important questions raised by readers and those interested on venturing in to the passenger transport business. see questions and answers on the comments section.}

Matatu business is one of the most profitable transport investments that have escaped foreign investors for many years; this can only be said to have been attributed to/ by the risks involved in running the business; among them corruption and cartels. I had an -off the record- chat with one senior police officer and he told a story about how he had seen a business opportunity and went for it. Back then; he was two steps below the rank he currently holds, meaning; he had more spare time to manage a side business and still be able to provide- service to all- as the police slogan indicates.

He took a loan from a Sacco within the force and took another loan from his bank; with…

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Commonly asked questions about investing in the matatu industry.

Wambururu's Blog

I wish to venture into the transport industry but I don’t know how to access asset finance loan. I request u share with me the knowledge u got in that sector I and those who will read through this.

NIC Bank offers asset finance facilities to both NIC Bank account holders and non account holders as well. The level of finance basically depends on the client’s ability to repay. The specific terms for financing of p.s.v units are;

Finance of up to 70% of the cost of the unit / We only finance brand new p.s.v units

The maximum period of finance is 36 months/Finance can be to a SACCO, Limited entity or an individual.

However an individual will need to belong to a SACCO/a registered entity since TLB licenses are no longer being issued to individuals

For borrowing below kes.15m, the client will only need to provide original bank…

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Taming Nairobi roads

Anyone who lives in Nairobi very quickly comes into unpleasant contact with the Nairobi traffic chaos, especially when it rains.

Rain seems to terrify many motorists in the capital and I soon began to understand why when the violent seasonal storms began last month. I noticed that few of the roads in Nairobi have any sort of draining system.

Actually, few of the roads even deserve to be called roads. Even the main highways are covered in potholes which come in a range of sizes – from the three-footers you can swerve around with ease (so long as there is no on-coming traffic) to the bath-tub-sized craters you simply have to drive through and hope the suspension holds. When it rains heavily the pot-holes become impossible to spot.

Driving in Nairobi is unsafe for very many reasons and I would love to start a citizen’s campaign to improve the state of the city’s roads. This type of unplanned infrastructure is ruining our quality of life and making continued growth of the capital unsustainable in the short-term even.

So, I’ve started to do some research about this problem and came across a report that really helped to encourage me that it’s not all doom and gloom

Entitled “Nairobi Urban Transportation Challenges – Learning from Japan” By Zacharia Irungu King’ori. Senior Economist, Roads Development (MoRPW), Republic of Kenya. 2007.


Nairobi is the Capital and largest city of Kenya. It is popularly known as the “Green City in the Sun”. Founded in 1899, it is the most populous city in East Africa, with an estimated urban population of about 3.5 million. According to the 1999 census, 2,143,254 inhabitants lived within 684 KM sq. Nairobi is reputed to be the fastest growing city in the world after Guadaloupe, Mexico City (Mexico( and Maputo (Mozambique).

In 1973, Nairobi Metropolitan Growth Strategy was formulated and gave the development directions of land use and transport for Nairobi City (NCC). No detailed plan and revision has been performed since.

The current traffic situation in Nairobi is as follows:

1. There are 7,500,000 person trips per day translating to 2.5 trips per person;

2. By purpose of trips, home bound trips command 46.5%, work 25%, school 9.8%, while other trips e.g hospital command 18.7%.

3. Trip composition by travel mode is;

  • Matatu – 29%
  • Bus – 3.7%
  • Private Car/Taxi/Truck – 15.3%
  • Two – Wheel mode – 1.2%
  • KR (Railway) – 0.4%
  • School or College Bus – 3.1%
  • Walking – 47%
  • Others – 0.2%

4.  Main trip flows are concentrated into the central area from WESTLANDS (west area of Nairobi) and KASARANI and EMBAKASI (Eastlands of Nairobi). A big chunk of the trips from west also emanate from Athi River and Kitengela areas which border Nairobi and have lately harboured a big proportion of people working or trading daily in Nairobi. From East, large trips also emanate from Kiambu and Thika areas.

5. Ninety three per cent (93%) of traffic at Nairobi boundary originate or arrive at Nairobi, while 7% is pass through traffic;

6. The dairy traffic volumes (vehicles per day) on both directions in the Nairobi roads are as follows;

  • Jogoo Road – 87,358
  • Outer Ring Road – 87,000
  • Thika Road – 69,289
  • Mombasa Road – 65,579
  • Haile Selassie Road – 56,005
  • Mbagathi Road – 51,697
  • Langata Road – 51, 338
  • Waiyaki Way – 49,902

7. Passenger cars command about 36% of Nairobi vehicle counts, while 23% are pick-up/4WD vehicles, 3% are buses and 27% matatus;

8. Occupancy rates are 2 in personal cars, 2 in pickup/4WD, 14 in matatus, 25 in mini buses, 34 in buses, 3 in light trucks, 2 in 2 & 3 axle trucks and 2 in articulated trucks;

9. About 70% of car users in Nairobi would change traffic mode if parking fees and fuel prices were increased by over 50%. However, 30% of the car users would not change even if parking fee was increased by 300% or fuel price increases by 100%.

10. If new public transport system (bus exclusive road, LRT) with faster average speed than car was introduced in Nairobi in future, 46% of car users would switch to new mode since fare would be reasonable at KShs 27(US$0.4). Resistance to change would be influenced by hate of walking and waiting; having baggage; uncomfortable public transport; and security fears.

11. The average travel speed on many of roads in Nairobi urbanized area is less  than 30km/h.




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Safaricom M-PESA Aggregator Model


M-PESA the Safaricom mobile money platform is five years old this year (2012).
It provides a mobile e-wallet that is loaded with electronic money called Mpesa.
Primarily Mpesa is bought at an M-PESA Agent outlet, where cash money is exchanged for Mpesa money.
The spectacular success of Safaricom M-PESA offering, driven by a captive (“peculiar”) mobile service customer base, the roll out and management of M-PESA agents outlet coupled with a gamble in terms of strategy that was singularly executed, has given rise to a service that is the envy of many and the fear of even more.
Success begets more success, leading to everyone wanting to jump into the M-PESA agents bandwagon, which in itself is expected and acceptable, the only downside being how to manage and ensure the good name of the service is maintained.
The M-PESA agents ecosystem can be a quagmire to unravel for the uninitiated, and that is what this particular blog is all about.

M-PESA Agents Classification.

Safaricom currently uses the following classification terminologies to classify agents:
Super Agents, Agents, Sub-Agents.
I use a similar pyramidal classification; Tier-1 Agents, Tier-2 and Tier-3 Agents, based on amount of Mpesa e-float likely to be found in these establishments
Float Amount
Super Agent
Tier 1 Agents
More than KES 500,000
Tier 2 Agents
Between 50,000 and 500,000
Tier 3 Agents
Below 50,000

In the Beginning

There was Safaricom, then M-PESA, one bank as a Super Agent (Commercial Bank of Africa) and Agents.
In those days and even today to be an Mpesa Agent was based on the following requirements:
  • Mimimum 3 outlets ready to do M-pesa Business
  • 6 Months trading hoistory
  • Appropriate locations
  • Minimum KES 100,000 for e-float per outlet
  • Minimum KES 100,000 for Simex (Sim replacement cards)
  • Minimum KES Cash for liquid cash float per out let
  • Staff requirements, education levels and numbers
  • Technical Requirement, computers, internet connection, ETR machine, official email contact, etec
  • Premises and Maintenance, no semi-permanent outlets
  • Mandatory documents, the lists is 14 points long.
See the complete lists of requirements here:

A Bright Brave Soul

With those kind of requirements to roll out M-PESA Agents would have been painfully slow and with competitors coming up with better modern platforms offering equivalent services it was imperative to rethink the situation on the part of Safaricom.
Thus a bright brave soul come up with the aggregator model and a stroke of genius it was!
With this model, M-PESA Agents could drive the Agents outlets recruitment by shielding would be Agents from the rigors of strenuous requirements.
Hence existing Mpesa Agents at that point in time and later could apply to be Mpesa Agents Aggregators and if allowed would sign an agreement on the same with Safaricom Limited.
The new agents recruited through the aggregator model are called sub-agents in Safaricom classification lingua.
With this new model M-PESA Agents roll-out grew wings, and took off like a bush fire, more  spectacular than the wildebeest migration in the Maasai Mara.
Alas, but the road has not been without pain and suffering on the part of would be Agents and Safaricom Mpesa employees alike, for greed joined hands with bureaucracy and created a horror.
You can feel the pain and frustration of this Mpesa Agent here?:

The Safaricom M-PESA Aggregator Model

The M-PESA Aggregator looks for and recruits M-PESA sub-agents, and this is by whatever suitable means at their disposal, a point some clique in Safaricom seem to be contenting.
Now the model works as follows:
  1. The Sub-agent is aggregated, that is they are registered directly with Safaricom.
  2. The Sub-agent gets a till (account) to carry out Mpesa transactions on.
  3. The Sub-agent gets a store management till, which he uses to get extra float from a Super Agent bank and his trading commissions are deposited there directly by Safaricom.
  4. Sub-agents are supposed to maintain a minimum float of KES 30,000.
  5. The Sub-agent keeps 80% of his trading commissions and the Aggregator gets his 20% also directly from Safaricom, the 80/20 rule.
  6. The Sub-agents outlet is named as Aggregator/Sub-agent.
  7. The Sub-Agent signs an Mpesa Aggregator/Agent agreement modeled along Safaricom sample agreement, find a copy here;
  8. The Aggregator ensures all that is enumerated above is implemented at no extra cost to or goodwill payment by the Sub-agent.
As can be seen, or deemed, it is a beautiful model, the Sub-agent keeps and manages his float, the Aggregator gets compensated for his efforts and everything runs smoothly, or so it is supposed to.

The Ugly, The Bad and The Good

The model was and still is beautiful, but with a few circumventions here and there by the Aggregators coupled with major laxity and complacency on the part of model enforcers in Safaricom a new KES 400 Million per year cartel come into being.

1. The New Sub-agents Are Not Aggregated.

  • The Aggregators treats the new Sub-agents as their own outlet, thereby managing the sub-agent float.
  • The Aggregators calculate the trading commissions for the Sub-agents, since all the commissions come to them.
  • The 80/20 rule is changed to 70/30 or 75/25 to come down to 80/20 only by proven performance on the part of the Sub-agent.
  • Sub-agent starting float is set at KES 100,000 or more.
  • The Sub-agent has no control of the amount of float in the till in their outlets, the till is not theirs
  • The kind of agreement signed, would make Safaricom scream.
  • Safaricom does know the Sub-agent
  • If an aggregator business is closed also the Sub-agents float money is also closed in.
  • Aggregators charge goodwill, say KES 30-50,000 or more.
Would be Sub-agents are often in a very week negotiating position when faced with variations of the above and a hammer from the following.

2. Safaricom Mpesa Field Officers

The aggregators can only carry out the above injustices in cohorts with Safaricom personnel.
The field officers are supposed to ensure adherence of set service standards like;
  1. Outlet location to safeguard revenue erosion of existing Agents.
  2. Ensure outlets are carrying out KYC (Know Your Customer) and AML (Anti Money Laundering) procedures, like requesting an ID or deciding you look suspicious and should not be depositing or receiving say KES 20,000.
  3. Ensure proper outlet branding and much more.
It will be noticed that the first two duties are noble, but misplaced.
The first one encourages and abates the Aggregator greedy practices, since to get an outlet next to an existing Mpesa outlet, which is the most natural and sensible thing to do, someone has to say yes or no, hence the would be sub-agent must part with
The second is easily circumvented via an ATM withdrawal, ATM’s don’t ask for ID’s and another factor, out of the more than 16 Million registered Mpesa users, less than one million have ever used an ATM withdrawal. The point here is that the ID can deter petty crimes but not money laundering.

What Should Have Been or Can Be

How Do You Audit 20,000, 40,000, 70,000 Mpesa Outlet?

That can be the first step Safaricom has to figure out, do it passionlessly and severe any miscreant Aggregators, but ensure the Sub-agents continue.
My two cents worth on this, get an outside firm to do it, do it very very fast, say give it to PCK for example, or a governmental ministry department, they have the numbers to carry it out (95%) in a day or two.

Let Outlet Crop Up Where They Wish

Business is business is business period
Safaricom is no longer in the business of ensuring agents and sub-agents revenue, the agency network has reached a stage where it has grown its own legs, let it be, apart for the bit about none competing services.
Let Kenyan set up outlets where they wish and run then how they deem fit, say under a tree, in a matatu, in a club, 247, etcetera, etcetera, let them play with it.
Should even set a standard for an Mpesa outlet within 400 meters of 95% of the population.

Automate Automate Automate

A lot of the crimes and frauds that can be put in place within a mobile money offering real time analytics and innovative service increments can detect and stop on a real-time basis.

Mpesa Aggregators Model

There seems to be luck of information at the market place about this model and how it works.
This can squarely be remedied by encouraging competition among aggregators and banishing any notions within Safaricom ranks that aggregators are not supposed to advertise, solicit or  entice would be Sub-agents to join their networks.
In other words aggregators should be able to build brands within the M-PESA brand, for example, xxxx the Mpesa outlets that never run out of float, or YYY get Mpesa service with a smile, …….

Mpesa Agency Business

It is a beautiful business, a fantastic “mpango wa kando”, with so many other opportunities happening (banking agencies) and waiting to happen around it (micro finance outlets).
Are you an Mpesa Agent or Sub-agent (whatever you call yourself) or do you want to become one.
If you leave this blog with anything at all, let it be this;
How do you know you are aggregated?
You have two Mpesa tills;
One with the agents number, for customer transactions.

Another with the store number, store management till, this manages your float store

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Google Wallet in Kenya.

Google has maintained it usual swag of venturing to anything.. They have introduced the first ever widely accepted Matatu card by the name “Beba” a term common with matatu touts in Kenya meaning “let carry”.

The card use the recent talk of the year technology yes! NFC. I say the technology is wide spread with reason, I this morning took a city hopper bus to Ngong road and it seemed like I was the only one in the cash generation everyone was issuing a card the tout taped the fare to the android app with the Beba card behind it.

What was of concern to me is that  the card is not password protected the tout just keyed in the fare and returned the card. The cardholder got and SMS receipt.

Expert say that Google could be planning an Entry for the Google Wallet in the market that is controlled 90% by M-Pesa, they claim that google want to create demand before they supply the Google wallet.

NFC Card just a head of NFC Google wallet is the take.

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