Kenyan startup Paytree is helping businesses reach more customers through the provision of free e-commerce stores integrated with payment solutions and last-mile delivery services.
Formed in early 2018, Paytree only went to market in August but has already built up a customer base of more than 300 merchants.
It has three main products – integrated payments tool Paytree Direct, payments distribution system Parallel, and Mzizzi, its online shop platform. The latter is its main focus, with projects director Dayvee Ngugi telling Disrupt Africa it was the first African solution that allowed anyone to open a fully branded online shop for free.
The platform has integrated payments from major mobile money providers, and all major cards and banks, and allows businesses to start selling in less than a week. Once a sale is made merchants can withdraw their funds immediately, with Mzizzi then collecting the purchased goods and delivers them to the customer anywhere in the country.
“Mzizzi serves merchants of all sizes, from global brands such as Subaru to small-time entrepreneurs who are just starting up, and exposes their products to a continent-wide audience in a way that wasn’t possible before,” Ngugi said.
“The cost of setting up a fully fledged e-commerce shop for any business, especially SMEs, can be quite high. Integrating with payment providers is a major headache, and delivery, even for established brands, is a real nightmare.”
Mzizzi levels the playing field by providing these solutions at no cost to a business, making revenues through commissions on sales. The startup has been bootstrapped so far, but is looking for funding to take the next step. It has been a case of so far, so good even without investment, however, with more than 300 businesses of all shapes and sizes using its platform. Ngugi said it is still a work in progress.
“Mzizzi is very different from a marketplace. What you find with Mzizzi is everything from people trying to grow their businesses while having regular employment, and more recently all the way up to global brands. Africa is still a nascent industry in e-commerce, we are working hard to get it right,” he said.
The startup operates only in Kenya for now, but does have plans to expand to the rest of East Africa and eventually across the continent.