Start-up is Kenya’s first online tendering portal

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Helen Njoroge is the founder and co-director of Tenders Kenya, a leading tender portal in the country

Prior to forming my own company, Tenders Kenya, I worked  as a project coordinator for the Federation of Women Entrepreneur Associations of Kenya (FEWA), the umbrella body of all women entrepreneur associations in Kenya. My ability to work competitively saw me rise through the ranks within a short time to be one of the high performing staff at the institution.

Working at FEWA not only helped me elevate fellow women but was also a key motivation towards my entrepreneurial journey. I interacted a lot with successful women entrepreneurs who inspired me.

For me, trying a hand at entrepreneurship meant bridging a gap or solving a particular problem affecting the society.

That is why, in 2013 when the current Kenyan government came into power, it enacted a law to reserve 30 per cent of all public procurement opportunities for women, youth and people with disability. We saw this as a huge opportunity and started training people on how to participate and win government tenders.

To know the available tender openings, one needs to buy a newspaper as that is where tenders are advertised daily. Buying newspapers is costly for the target market. Besides, perusing through the papers for tenders seemed to be time consuming.

This prompted me to develop a digital platform where I would put together all these procurement opportunities on a daily basis for my target clients. I was lucky to find a committed partner and together, we raised an initial capital of Ksh. 200,000 which was majorly used for web development.

Our firm provides a digital, cost effective and efficient platform where all entrepreneurs and especially women, youth and people with disability can access both government and private procurement opportunities.

We have filled out all categories ranging from bids, expression of interest and consultancy. We also highlight tenders reserved for women, youth and people with disability. Our aim is to empower these groups of people.

Turning point

Initially, Tenders Kenya provided information at no cost. It had envisioned earning from website ads. Furthermore, it had planned to partner with financial institutions that could buy advertising space in the portal. That did not work as planned.

Although Google paid for the traffics per click, it was not sustainable.

A few months after developing the website, the unexpected happened, it crashed.

I received so many phone calls from clients and that was when I realised that there was value in it.

We started charging for our services.

That was our major turning point.

With just a team of four people, Tenders Kenya currently has over 16,000 subscribers. Users receive daily alerts on the available tender opportunities via email.

On average, we get seven new subscribers every day. Most of them are through word of mouth. Quite thrilling for us.

We charge an annual subscription fee of Ksh. 2,000, which is way much cheaper compared to buying newspapers on a daily.

Most of our revenues streams are from the subscription fees and website ads.

Training

We plan to conduct training on procurement beginning May this year. We realised that so many people apply for tenders but never qualify. We want to help young entrepreneurs understand the modalities of submitting a winning tender proposal.

The training will cover various aspects including the legal process, filling tender docs and presentation among others.

Upbeat

 We plan to expand into the East African region in the near future. Plans are also underway to allow both the government and private sector to post their procurement opportunities in the website.

Our ultimate objective is to be a leader in the procurement industry.

Helen at a glance

  • At Tenders Kenya, Helen is responsible for marketing, quality assurance, uploading tenders in the website and building brand presence and visibility.
  • She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Moi University.
  • Currently, she is pursuing masters in population studies at Nairobi University.
  • Her professional background is in project management and coordination.
  • In 2015, she was recognized as one of the top 40 women under 40 in Kenya for her role in procurement.

Her views on entrepreneurship

  • What problem are you trying to solve when starting a business?
  • Is the business going to generate income?
  • Take time to think through your idea. Talk to your parents and friends, let them judge and critic the idea?
  • Conduct a thorough market research before implementing the idea.

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