She paid a Sh20,000 rent deposit for an apartment via mobile money then called the ‘caretaker’ to get the keys. But all calls went unanswered minutes later.
After a few minutes, Valentine Kilonzo called again and the phone had been switched off. She then decided to visit the flat in Buruburu to find out what was happening. She was shocked to learn that it was a private property and was not available for rent.
Such tales are now common, she tells Digital Business.
“A friend selling cameras online delivered goods worth Sh500,000 to a ‘customer’ who kidnapped the deliveryman, locked him in an empty apartment and vanished with the costly cameras,” she says.
Such incidents pushed Ms Kilonzo, a Multimedia University alumnus, to join hands with friends to create a Web-based solution, Jointpesa escrow platform, which is a payment gateway where one’s money is held until goods are delivered or services rendered.
Jointpesa, an offshoot of an array of construction and leasing businesses that Ms Kilonzo is involved in, has expanded to include vehicle sales, contract and corporate services where individuals pay for goods.
They also provide a service for individual builders who pay for construction materials delivered.
“We also have individuals who sell various items on social media and direct their clients to our platform for payment. This is meant to safeguard the deals and this has enabled them to run genuine businesses,” says Ms Kilonzo who is the company’s chief executive.
Speaking to Digital Business, Ms Kilonzo said she and her five co-founders flew to Singapore in search of a software developer to give expression to their idea. However, they returned home empty-handed since no developer understood how Kenyans do business.
“We used local developers and after two years of piloting, the product was ready for the market with several corporate clients now on our site,” she says.
“We are overseeing two multibillion shilling construction work payments in Nakuru where money is released to the subcontractor every time they complete the agreed construction level.”