Who is Conrad Omwenga?
Conrad Omwenga is a 22-year-old fourth-year student at Meru University currently pursuing a degree in bachelor of science in information technology. Growing up I have had the pleasure to live in different parts of the country. I was born in Kisii, raised in Migori county and I currently live in Meru. I am the second born in a family of 7 children. I have always been motivated to make money and that is how I ended up in the entrepreneurship path. I enjoy traveling, reading, and talking to people.
Describe your business to us, what exactly do you do?
We recently launched a company called Pap Kart. It is about a month old. We are a team of 3 and we all collaborated to build the Pap Kart platform. Pap Kart is an e-commerce platform that links vendors and customers. We are currently in our pilot phase where our target market is Meru and its environs which include; Meru town, Makutano, and Kemu. What inspired the idea of Pap Kart is that we identified a gap after Covid-19 hit the country March and people were forced to change their lifestyle completely and stay at home. This made it had for people to do their shopping. Pap Kart allows people to do their shopping in the comfort of their homes.
How the platform works is that vendors come to our platform, create an account, and list their products on our website. Customers who visit our platform then select the products they want to buy, pay, and then we do the delivery. If the client is unhappy with the product they have the option of returning it and getting a refund. So far we have 5 vendors and 15 registered customers. Our main source of revenue at the moment is the delivery. We get 60% of the delivery costs and the rider gets 40%. Later on, we plan to generate income by selling ads once we have high traffic on the platform.
As a young person who is starting a business in Meru County, what are some of the challenges that you are currently facing?
Our major challenge is trust. We need to gain people’s trust. People are yet to embrace online shopping in Meru and those who buy online prefer to buy from familiar websites like Jumia and Kilimall. Another challenge is that we are having a hard time convincing the vendors to register and list the products on our website. This concept is very new to them and therefore we need to do a lot of awareness creation and sensitization. So far we only have 2 riders but we are worried that once we start getting more requests, we may need more riders.
Was getting the initial capital a challenge? How were you able to navigate through this challenge?
It was impossible to get a loan from the bank and so we had to get creative. The three of us came together and decided to crowdfund. We reached out to our friends and family members who chipped in the little that they had and we were able to get enough money to start. We also invested our own personal savings.
What are some of the challenges that you have encountered so far that you hadn’t anticipated?
Sometimes a client makes an order and then they cancel it and we have to deal with the headache of reversing the payment. We have had 2 cases so far. We also did not anticipate that we would need so much money in marketing. So far we have been doing our marketing online through social media but we are realizing that we need to do face-to-face marketing and it is going to cost us a lot of money. We are learning that in business it is hard to plan for all eventualities but it’s good to plan.