On 9 May 2019, Kasha launched the first E-commerce company in Kenya selling women’s health and personal care products. Founded in Kigali Rwanda in 2016, the fast growing company aims to penetrate into the Kenyan market by focusing on womens’ personal care products such as menstrual care, contraceptives, HIV self-tests, soaps, lotions, baby diapers, and beauty products. The company is driven by a purpose, which is to break the stigma associated in getting access to some of these products (menstrual kits, HIV-tests and contraceptives),by providing a platform where a user can make informed purchases confidently and in confidentiality.
This interview with Joanna Bichsel the CEO of Kasha, sheds light into the company’s mission highlighting how this online platform seeks to contribute into the Kenyan society and what this means for the Kenyan woman in both rural and urban settings.
- Please tell us a bit about Kasha and how it came to be
Kasha was founded in 2016 in Rwanda as a purpose driven company which helps women across all social and economic spectrums get access to what they need, how they want it. We focus on self-care, and health products serving women, whether they live in rural or urban settings.
For instance, we found that a contributing factor to women having unnecessary pregnancies is because sometimes they cannot get access to contraceptives at the right time or take necessary precautions. This is due to the stigma associated with buying condoms and birth-control pills over the counter. Another case is when a woman gets to buy the contraceptives but without the right information and you find that in the long run, she is suffering from side effects due to lack of information from a reliable source.
Some people are also skeptical about online buying because they are weary if they are getting value for their money or the right product.
That is where Kasha comes in. We provide great customer care
helping you understand the difference between products, how to use these
products, ensuring you get value for your purchase.
Kasha also provides a space for women to raise the issues they are facing while mitigating stigma through the privacy guaranteed when purchasing products.
- From past experience in Kigali Rwanda, How has your journey been in the strive to impact women’s lives
Working with the Ministry of health, we have sold over 8,000 HIV test kits and reached 33% of women. We have helped women gain access to menstrual products and pharmaceuticals (our best seller) helping them get medication and manage menstrual hygiene. 15% of our customers were men.
- Why launch Kasha in Kenya?
Research states that only 46% of women in Kenya have access to menstrual products and can manage their menstrual hygiene. Similar to Rwanda stigma is an issue, which inhibits women from becoming while still affecting their education. We aim to bridge this gap by providing a solution based platform where women can raise issues affecting them and we can give them the right information and the privacy they need when purchasing stigma products. Kenya is also in a special and specific place unlike any other country. In terms of Mobile money for transactions, internet penetration at 100+% and digital access at 90%. This makes access to business solutions easier. The purchasing power is 2-3 times higher in Kenya as compared to Rwanda, which makes it good for businesses.
- Who is your target audience and what pain points will you be addressing across the demographics, and age.
We target women from 23-40 years of age across all social economic status.
As decision makers, women, directly influence 80% of consumer purchases yet they remain highly underserved in their access to high quality and genuine products.
Therefore, more than just selling we help women make informed decision on their purchases as we empower emerging markets.
- Kenya is quite ahead, in terms of embracing the digital and e-commerce, How do you uniquely address these pain points?
Kasha is not a market place. We are obsessive on quality of the products we sell. We are also centric on women health and this gives us the opportunity to optimize our services and excel on this niche.
We also have an in house doctor who can offer information on
products sold on our platform therefore guaranteeing quality and value.
Our confidential telephone consultation services enable our buyers to verify the effectiveness of the products they need and get insight on other alternatives.
For instance when it comes to medicine, once you place an order we verify by asking for the prescription, which is shared with the doctor. Once it is checked and the purchase is effected, we deliver the medicine through our agents who will then ask for the original copy of the prescription. We also offer children medicine.
In terms of delivery, we offer free services on orders delivered the next day and within Nairobi.
- How do you plan reach the women at the grassroots who don’t own a smartphone?
We have a Short code *308# that provides the customer with the basic E-commerce experience as on a smartphone. You can go through the products and decide on what to check out. In terms of delivery we use agents within the communities to deliver direct purchases to our customers for convenience and affordability.
- Who are your key partners from Kenya and why?
The people we partner with are a reflection of who we want to become. In Kenya and East Africa, we have partnered with Local manufacturers like Marini naturals for hair products and Suzie beauty.
Zerufia organics our patner in Rwanda is a company that majors in skin care and hair products. We are looking to onboard any other local manufacturers that match our needs.
We have also partnered with global companies like Unilever, Johnson & Johnsons and Kim-Fay to Provide solution based products, diversity and a new experience to women who want something different.
- What is your strategy/agenda for the next few months
We are in the early stages of testing in Nairobi and delivering outside Nairobi.
We are using agent models, door to door and content marketing to reach the public. The advantage is that we have seen a rise in purchases after using the brand ambassadors to inform the people about our services.
- Where do you see the company going from here?
We projected earnings of 800% from 2017 – 2018. This year we project millions of dollars in revenues and thousands of customers across Kenya and Rwanda.
- What is your vision?
We aim to become a global company serving millions of women around the world while empowering emerging markets and women enterprises.
- What is kasha’s take on bringing clean products that follow regulations and do not contain harmful ingredients?
We balance the persons choice with quality. For instance, we provide information (content, discussions) and connect the customer to experts who can provide the right information. Products sold on our platform are certified according to the stipulated standards.
- How do you rate the success of this event?
Quite positively. Our main goal for this event was to get our message out there so that people both men and women can know that we understand we are here, to serve them.