Zimbabwean startup launches SMS-driven funeral coordination platform

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Zimbabwean streamlined funeral coordination platform Funeral.ly has launched in a bid to leverage SM and WhatsApp to notify people of funeral plans.

Initially conceived on the AMPION Venture Bus last year, Funeral.ly is an online platform which aims to ease the burden of coordinating and organising a funeral. Using SMS, it provides an effective means for communication of the funeral event details and allows friends and families to share condolences and contribute funds towards the funeral.

The startup aims to break down communication barriers for families organising a funeral or companies notifying employees of the loss of a colleague, saying it allows mourners to ease the logistical burden of planning a funeral.

Users are able to sign up create a Funeral.ly profile for the deceased, including dates, programme and directions to the funeral. These details are then sent via SMS to any intended contacts globally, with the whole process taking less than five minutes. Video livestreams of funerals are also possible on the platform.

Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Francis Chiwunda said Funeral.ly aimed to capture African cultural traditions and use technology to apply them to present day situations.

“One significant cultural aspect is that of funeral monetary contributions,” he said. “African cultures often times accept monetary contributions from family and friends, and it is usually small amounts. These funds are collected and used to cover some of the funeral expenses but in most cases they are used as a gesture of solidarity with the bereaved family and showing them your sympathy – just as flowers are used in other cultures.”

Funeral.ly uses secure online credit card payment processing that enables families to accept monetary gifts from anyone in the world via credit or debit card. It also allows Zimbabweans to use mobile money to send their funeral contributions.

“With this feature, the deceased family can get these funds in one well-coordinated big pot accessible to everyone from fellow religious group members, social club friends and even work colleagues,” Chiwunda said.

Another functionality allows users to send flowers to the bereaved family, while there is also an interactive condolence-sending functionality. The startup also believes it offers a unique package to companies in the funeral industry, giving insurance companies a dedicated portal to enable them to reach out directly to clients and improve their services .

Co-founder and chief technological officer (CTO) Trevor Sibanda said sensitive information such as customer credit card information was secure on the platform. Funeral.ly does not have access to or store any credit card information.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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