South African startup Kandua, an online marketplace for home services, has created over US$12 million in work opportunities for independent service providers and SMEs in the last year.
Founded in 2014 by Arjun Khoosal and Sayo Folawiyo, Kandua helps anyone who needs work done in their home – from small fixes to major renovations – to find a vetted, background-checked professional.
It also helps independent contractors and small businesses to make a name for themselves and to grow their businesses by helping them find new customers, offering them access to training opportunities, and through providing them with a suite of easy-to-use tech tools such as a website, a quoting and invoicing app, and digital payments.
Unlike traditional directories, Kandua uses algorithmic matching technology and vets, reviews and background-checks professionals before connecting them with anyone who needs their services.
“We match demand and supply, while addressing barriers of trust and convenience for customers. For larger businesses, Kandua co-creates solutions that offer them an easy way to engage with an ecosystem of independent SMEs – as suppliers, partners or customers,” Folawiyo told Disrupt Africa.
The startup has grown over the years to become South Africa’s number one online marketplace for home services, creating over $12 million in work opportunities for independent service providers and SMEs over the last 12 months. Yet it was inspired by Khoosal’s parents’ home renovation.
“A third-generation builder and exceptional craftsman was at work. Yet, he didn’t have access to basic business tools, and no way to showcase his work. He was selling himself short and needed to build his reputation from scratch every new day. We were lucky to find him. He was lucky to get the work. Luck shouldn’t matter – but in this space it seemed that this was often the case,” Khoosal said.
“For independent service providers and SMEs, particularly in home repair and maintenance, there is significant market failure. Customers often prefer the personalised service and affordability of small business, but struggle to find pros they can trust. Service providers rely on word of mouth marketing and paper-based processes. They only use their smartphones casually for work, with many existing tech tools being too complex for their needs.”
SMEs contribute around 43 per cent of GDP, and create 65 per cent of jobs in Africa. Yet few tech companies design for them. Kandua is filling the gap, and is working to shorten the distance between having a skill and making a living from it.
“Our mission-driven tech business is built on the idea of giving the people with untapped and unrecognised skills at the bottom of the economic hierarchy the tools and dignity to rise to the top, pulling the economy and country with them,” Folawiyo said.
Kandua has partnered with a number of traditional and impact investors, most recently Catalyst Fund, and also recently secured a partnership with Leroy Merlin, the French hardware and DIY retailer that has recently entered South Africa. All of its in-house installation services to customers are carried out by Kandua Pros.
Though only currently operating in South Africa, the startup – which charges service providers a small fee to be matched with customers – is hoping to expand to major cities in other African countries in future.