A technology start-up disrupting the creative industry, Onesha, founded by Bernard Momanyi and Levis Njehia, connects trusted and vetted creatives with clients across Africa and beyond. Bernard speaks with Ayishat Amoo of WeeTracker about some of the solutions the start-up is offering, their challenges, as well as what’s next for their start-up.
Launched in 2015, Onesha is an online platform where you get access to vetted, skilled and trusted top creative professionals in Africa at affordable costs. Research by Onesha shows that the most pressing problem businesses face when hiring creative professionals is finding the right skilled creative professionals with quick turnaround time on delivery. And so, Onesha aims to make this process seamless in the long-term by automating everything to bring efficiency into the business ecosystem.
After they got into the Safaricom Appwiz Challenge, Onesha got incubated at ILab Africa for three months and graduated in December 2015- where they got the Launchpad to build something that has an impact in the industry they chose to operate in.
According to Bernard Momanyi, one of Onesha’s founders, “The reason we built Onesha was to cut down the time spent by that entrepreneur looking for a designer to polish up his presentation for a client meeting, help that startup polish up his business profile to be at par with the competition, work with that business looking to make its products pop on social media using attractive visuals, partner with that company looking to launch a product to help build, document and distribute content on digital and help all these creatives doing this services get paid work. How many designers do you have to call to get the perfect one for the job? What is the most efficient way to know rates without calling 10+ designers to get the most affordable one? What if you need someone to polish up your presentation for your meeting in 20 minutes?”
Onesha seeks to connect the best creatives in Africa with an opportunity on a global level, and their initial target market is SMEs in Kenya in need of agency-level services which most businesses cannot afford due to limited budgets. To ensure they give business professionals who can deliver work on time, good quality and at an affordable rate, Onesha has a rigorous vetting process for any professional that seeks to join their network.
In terms of funding, Onesha bootstrapped its operations for two years, from 2015 until they recently got funding from Pangea. They also received a lot of support from family, friends, and relatives because most of them believed so firmly in what they were doing to the extent that some of them gave them an office to operate from.
When it comes to the challenges they have faced, Bernard explained that “Access to capital has been a key challenge”. In his opinion, the cost of doing business in Kenya is still high given the high inflation rates. Young people in Nairobi often settle for a job since they cannot find initial capital for starting up their business. Running a business needs the capital to sustain not just the operations, but also for onboarding customers. It is, in fact, one of the biggest reason why people don’t start-up.
The Onesha team has over 20 years of combined experience in Customer Relations, Sales, Marketing, Branding and running marketplaces. One of their board members exited his company to one of the largest investment firms in Africa while their creative advisor runs one of the most respected creative advertising agencies in Kenya. They also have a technical team with experience in software development; one is an Andela Fellow.
According to Bernard, the advice he would give a start-up founder is this, “Don’t do stuff just because other people are doing it; you will fail miserably. Do it because you really care about a pain point that needs to be solved, with or without funding, you will succeed if you do it long enough and learn along the way. Never start a business with the aim of raising funding, so that appear in the papers, solving a real problem and creating impact should be your biggest driver, most people give up along the way when the latter is that motive. Why? Because raising capital is a short-term result while solving a problem is a lifetime commitment.”
You may ask, what’s next for Onesha? According to them, they want to reach over 5 million businesses in Africa by 2022 while empowering over 1.5 million creatives with paid work.
Bernard also explained that being selected by Pangea as one of their investees is one of the most significant achievements for Onesha. “Pangea is one of the best European Accelerators that seeks to empower African startups with Funding, network, and competence,” says Bernard.