Newly-rebranded Ziada helps Kenyan informal sector service providers find more jobs

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Launched as Kazi in 2017, when the market was quite young, Kenyan startup Ziada returned after hiatus in 2021, and swiftly saw swift uptake of its platform, which helps informal sector service providers access more work opportunities.

Co-founders Annabel Angwenyi and Patrick Ngugi have been business partners for more than a decade, yet their two attempts at launching this particular platform have had contrasting levels of success. 

When Kazi launched, the market was clearly not ready, but when the team returned to try again in July of last year, things had changed.

“We were very nervous about making a comeback in the middle of a pandemic,” Angwenyi told Disrupt Africa.

“Now we are just shy of 30,000 downloads with 4,500 jobs matched and 2,500 service providers on Ziada.” 

Ziada is a mobile application that helps service providers in the informal sector find more jobs and grow their businesses by linking them with clients who are actively seeking trusted services, as well as providing business advisory and access to tool/equipment rental.

“The main challenge we came to plug in was the lack of visibility,” Angwenyi said. “Clients were looking for service providers and didn’t know where to find them. Service providers needed clients and didn’t know where to put their profiles to be found. We were the bridge connecting the two sides.”

The Ziada platform is available across Kenya, with 20 per cent of its users based outside urban areas. 

“This number is continuously growing with increasing requests from users outside the cities to assist them get on the platform,” said Angwenyi.

Largely self-funded until an investment from Uncap in 2021, Ziada was last year selected to take part in Catalyst Fund’s Inclusive Fintech programme, which provides startups with catalytic grant capital, as well as bespoke venture building support. Angwenyi said its support had been “invaluable”. 

Far from needing to worry about relaunching mid-pandemic, Angwenyi said the timing of Ziada’s emergence “could not have been more apt”. 

“Businesses had to do everything they could to be found and this aided the transition to digital platforms greatly,” she said.

“Everyone from a mechanic to a mobile money agent wanted it to be known that even though they weren’t at their usual stations due to government restrictions to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, they were still very much available and open to jobs and would do them according to the mandated protocols.”

Ziada has plans to expand into East Africa in the coming year, and is currently testing a monetisation model customized for the market. 

“We’ve had a big focus on onboarding our service providers and ensuring that by the time we were campaigning for clients to use we had a good number of businesses already on the platform,” Angwenyi said.

“What surprised us was that our service providers have been our biggest client users in this period. The app is a two-in-one, and so the service providers only have to hit a button to switch to the client side for the time they are in need of a service themselves.”

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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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