Whive.com: Kenyan SMS Based Social Network

When they started in 2008, they expected to be one of the driving forces in social networking in Kenya. But with the Facebook wave growing at the time, they had to change their tact: swim or sink. Now Whive.com has over 100,000 users and growing.

“Back then [2008] there were very few Kenyan social sites most of which were dating sites and I saw a market opportunity in having a site that was none dating but social,” Whive founder John Karanja told HumanIPO. “This site reached a peek of 6,000 users most of whom were the Kenyan digerati at that time as they were probably only about 100,000 to 200,000 Internet users in Kenya at that time.” Now the service not only concentrates on Kenya but across the East African region.
While in college, John got a few ideas to transform Whive into something different that would be above the current competition. “I got a few ideas on how to rework Whive and I consequently applied for funding from the Nokia-Adobe Open Screen Fund which I got for developing the new Whive mobile application. I graduated in 2010 and decided to run Whive as a business with the prototype I had developed,” he said.

Whive transformed into an SMS based social network and now uses Facebook and Twitter to promote their products. With over 100,000 users, “Whive seeks to provide basic communication and social media services to Africans who largely have not had access to the Internet before,” John told HumanIPO. Most of their clientel inculdes ages 16 – 35 who use their messaging services and corporates who use the service for advertising.

John believes that Whive is now on a new growing path with a bright future. As to the future plans, John exuded confidence: “Due to the arrival of online payments systems (finally) across our target markets we are now able to roll out subscription based services which are what we are doing currently. We are also seeking partnerships with other organizations that need to integrate SMS and Social Media Tools into their products. We are targeting 500,000 to 1,000,000 users by end year through our new Product and Partnerships as we utilize Whive to deliver needed services and information to our subscribers.”

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