Eric Nyombi is an e-Commerce businessman whose dealings are primarily online. He trades in household items such as kitchenware and groceries through his Tily Express website.
In May, he wanted someone who could design a brochure, logo and a website for his business. Upon making inquiries, he was told it would cost approximately Shs2m, money he did not have. He turned to Facebook where he chanced on an advert of a CityWink application that promised to connect him to a service provider.
“One evening at around 11pm, I received a notification on my phone that I had been connected to a website designer. We had a chat and agreed on a fair price of Shs700,000. I had a running website and brochure in three weeks,” Nyombi says.
Like Nyombi, Gloria Kukunda also prides in using the CityWink App. About two months ago, on short notice, her maid lost a relative and had to travel up-country.
“I downloaded and installed the App on my phone and a day before my maid travelled, I got in contact with someone who I wanted to stay at home for one day. I directed her to my home in Namugongo and she reported the next day at 9am. I went to work and returned in the evening and found everything in order,” Kukunda recalls.
Nyombi and Kukunda are two of the 289 customers who have so far used the CityWink App since its inception in February 2019. The application is the brainchild of Haam Rukundo, an agricultural consultant, Martin Kawande, a website and software developer, Robert Semogerere, an information specialist and Robert Kayongo, an accountant.
How it works
Rukundo says the App links a service provider to customers. It is a purely android mobile application downloadable on your phone from Google playstore. Services provided are categorised into home and business. Under home services, there is cleaning, doorstep laundry, car wash and servicing, home spa, appliance repair, mobile car wash, homecare giver (day-maid), makeup artistry and salon for women and men, pest control services and photography.
Under business, there is digital marketing, property caretaker, computer repair and installation, events and venues, wedding and decoration, ushering and catering services, tiling, plumbing, painting and carpentry services, among others. According to Rukundo, the application is being updated to include services such as surveying.
“The application is geo sensitive. When you make a service request in Ntinda, the notification goes to the service provider within the same area or one in a radius of five kilometres. We do not want someone from Mukono to offer a service to someone in Ntinda because they will charge a customer exorbitantly,” Rukundo says, adding that all one has to do is go to www.citywink.ug.
Semogerere interjects, explaining: “We want to be sure that people who use the application are charged low prices for good quality services. This is through serving customers nearer to them without charging commission on services. You agree with the service provider whom you pay after you are satisfied with a selected service.” He adds that service providers are vetted and verified to offer quality services.
Criteria for vetting
“We find out their experience, history of work done, trading licence and certificate of a service provider before we include them. Those that are not licenced are registered as individuals but after verification. We also get copies of their national identifications and visit their homes if they do not have a permanent workshop to be sure that the person we are recruiting will provide a genuine service,” Kawande explains.
“We had a challenge of marketing our services. It was hard to place an advert on radio, television or a newspaper. We decided to create a platform where customers and clients would access services without spending a lot of money on advertising,” Kayongo explains.
Sometimes customers need services they cannot get because they have to call a friend to recommend someone who has done work for them. This was one of the motivations for the birth of the CityWink App.
“We thought that when we have service providers in one pool and train them on good customer care, we would improve service professionalism in Uganda. This was the ultimate motivation,” Rukundo notes.
Through vetting service providers, Rukundo says they are able to safeguard customers against counterfeit services. This comes after talking to some of the service provider’s clients to understand what they are capable of. Rukundo adds that they also check if service providers are registered with local authorities in their areas of operation to be sure that whoever is included on the app is a genuine service provider by registration, location and authentication. Some of the service providers on the application include A & M cleaning services.
Liability for incidents
In an event that an incident such as a robbery happens during and after service provision, Semogerere says the company takes responsibility of following up for the client to ascertain who and how the incident happened.
“We have a database of service provider qualifications and images. After investigating and we find out that the service provider was in anyway involved in the incident, they are arrested and taken care of by the law. Since there is geo-fencing, we are also able to know the locality of the person,” Rukundo assures.
Use and trust of the application
Having stared in February 2019, the application has registered 502 service providers, most of whom are concentrated in Kampala in areas such as Ntinda, Kyaliwajjala, Namugongo, Kawempe, Matugga, Kireka, Bweyogerere, Bwebajja along Entebbe road, Lubowa, Seguku Ggaaba, Gayaza Mpererwe, Kanyanya and Kansanga.
The numbers have risen through carrying out weekly recruitments across all places within and around Kampala.
Currently, there are 289 different service requests that have been responded to. On a daily, the application receives not less than 10 requests out of the 34 services provided.
“If the robbery or counterfeit has been recorded and it is has been caused by a service provider, if we did not carry out due diligence on them and it is our fault, we come in to compensate the customer,” Rukundo says.