Kenyan addressing startup OkHi raises $750k funding

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Kenyan startup OkHi, which is employing technology in a bid to solve problems with physical addressing, has raised US$750,000 in funding from a group of local and international investors including ex-Google chief financial officer (CFO) Patrick Pichette and Silicon Valley venture fund Garage Capital.

Founded in Nairobi in April 2014, OkHi is looking to tackle problems with physical addressing in the country with its solution, which provides locations with an “OkHi address” comprising of a web link that points to a GPS tag and photo of the house’s gate.

Having raised one previous round – of US$325,000, mostly in October of last year – OkHi has now successfully closed further funding which it believes with help it make even more significant strides on its mission of giving an address to the four billion people worldwide who do not have one.

“We couldn’t be more excited about the investors who we have onboard, not only do they help validate the opportunity ahead of us, but more importantly they bring a huge amount of experience to the business that will be critical to our success,” said co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Timbo Drayson.

The startup was also recently awarded a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to help provide location information on financial services in Kenya.

Drayson explained why the service OkHi was providing is so important.

“Without a physical address that works, many people do not have access to fundamental services like deliveries, a bank account or emergency services. We want to give four billion people in the world without an address an OkHi address so that they have access to life-changing services, and become included in the world.”

E-commerce is one sector that struggles with the lack of address systems, with OkHi having been working with a number of e-commerce businesses to address this problem. Following a successful pilot earlier in the year, OkHi fully launched its addressing system with Jumia Kenya to power deliveries for Black Friday. OkHi’s address system was used to improve the customer delivery experience and the efficiency of their logistics.

The startup has already mapped more than 100,000 people in Nairobi – from Ngong Road to Lavington, and Kilimani to Westlands – and believes as more and more people embrace e-commerce its impact will only grow over time. Yet it has wider applications, says co-founder Wes Chege.

“Think of all the different types of delivery services that would improve with a working address system, from reducing the response time for ambulance services to improving deliveries for national couriers like Well’s Fargo,” he said.

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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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