With over 5000 users in less than a month since its launch, Ibuild is roaring to go and the tech firm is now casting its eyes on strategic partnerships to help help increase the platform’s usage beyond Nairobi, where it first pioneered.
Financial Fortune Media Editorial Director Steve Umidha had a sit-down with Ibuild Kenya market director Aggrey Wangwe on the platform’s impact thus far and future outlook for the company.
Here is the excerpts:
Q: Having launched about two weeks ago, how has the response from the market been for you as iBUILD?
Ans: Very exciting! We have had very positive feedback and generated a lot of interest and this just confirms that indeed there was a gap in the construction space that iBUILD is fixing.
Q: In terms of milestones following the launch, what would you say have been some key highlights for iBUILD?
Ans: Our biggest milestone is the continued interest in our application. We have seen the number of people who are downloading and creating projects on iBUILD shoot up pretty fast. That for us is a clear validation that the idea we presented to the market actually addresses an existing gap.
Other key highlights include an endorsement by the Cabinet Secretary for ICT, Mr. Joe Mucheru, who has lent his voice to the concept of using technology to address challenges in the housing and construction industry.
Also, we have since entered into partnerships with key industry players which has boosted confidence in our platform.
Q: Let’s speak about direct solutions that iBUILD is creating for the industry.
Ans: We view ourselves as facilitators who seek to promote the following in the industry:
Transparency: Gone are the day where homeowner would risk there investments to contractors then only hope that they will deliver the project to standard. With the rating system on the platform it will be clear about a contractors work standard before one hires them. This will slowly eliminate the bad actors and reward the good actors. Secondly iBUILD is able to verify is the contractor in registered with the relevant regulatory body.
Accountability: iBUILD offers a solution on how the home owners can the manage the project based on milestone. This enable the homeowner and contractor to transact only on completed works and both parties are able to transact on clear deliverable. To facilitate this there is an iBUILD wallet which ties payment of milestone on completed works.
Efficiency: With iBUILD home owners can reach skilled contractors at a click of a button. Manage payment in a secure and convenient way. For contractor their work profile is showcased to potential customers and when transacting through the app are assured of prompt payment. All these intervention injects some efficiency that was missing in the industry.
Q: Can you take us through a simple step by step of how one can get the app and begin using it?
Ans: We have made the process of joining the platform as normal as any universal application out there today. For Android devices simply go to Google play store, search for “iBUILD Kenya”, download and sign up with your mobile number. It’s that easy. The process is the same for Apple IOS users.
Q: What are some of the strategies in place for other areas apart from Nairobi? For users outside of Nairobi, are there equally many opportunities for them in the other counties?
Ans: iBUILD is positioned as a global platform that has had its first official launch in Kenya. Anyone across the country can download and experience the platform. We will soon have agents across the counties to provide more support to our users both in rural and urban areas. Further to this, we have a robust customer support platform on our website and app that our customers can reach to us. We also have a customer care contact with dedicated team to answer any question from our user. The number is +254 203892094 and can be found also on the app.
We are also lining up some strategic partnerships that will connect with Kenyans beyond Nairobi. We are working with relevant public institutions to on board workers throughout the country. For example, we are tapping into the Ajira program that is spearheaded with the ministry of ICT.
Q: How many downloads have you had so far and what is the plan for each of the groups you are targeting?
Ans: Within the first two weeks of launching, we have already seen over 5000 new users join the platform and the number continues to grow each day.
Q: Focusing a bit on customers, home owners and potential ones too, what are some of the reasons why they should have iBUILD as the platform for their projects?
Ans: Basically we like to view iBUILD as a platform that offers a potential homeowner the tools to manage their home construction project. From finding a genuine contractor, receiving different quotes for comparison, accepting milestones based on budget and securely paying for completed phases, a homeowner is empowered to build with minimal headaches.
Q: What are some innovative additions you will be working on including to the app over the next few months or years?
Ans: This is a great question. We are only getting started and as you have seen, we have only touched a tip of the iceberg in terms of actors in the construction industry. Expect to see modules that will include Material suppliers including manufacturers, Professionals including Architects and Engineers, Financial Lenders, and Organized labor contractors. We promise exciting things to come!
Q: How are payments done on iBUILD and how secure is the users money on iBUILD.
Ans: Each user on iBUILD is assigned an encrypted wallet that is accessible only through the users phone number and personal PIN. Currently users can top up their wallets via Mpesa. All the funds in users Wallets sit with Mpesa deposits at the respective holding banks. iBUILD does not hold any funds in its accounts.
Q: What can Kenyans expect from you as well as the industry this year?
Ans: This is a very broad question to us as we intend to engage every facet of the construction terrain. What we can promise is that we are dedicated to creating a solution that will not only see more homeowners realize their dreams of constructing homes, but actually contributing to improved livelihoods through affordable housing.
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