Death tech start-up Safiri Salama secures Ksh.12.5 million to digitise Kenya’s funeral industry

Death tech start-up Safiri Salama secures Ksh.12.5 million to digitise Kenya’s funeral industry

SafiriSalama Co-founders (from left) Steve Lelei, John Nyongesa and Edith Orwako.

With death remaining a revered subject in a majority of African societies, most people do not prepare for it; save for life assurance covers whose uptake is still sparse in Kenya.

Even so, that does not cover the nitty-gritties of giving them a good send-off, leaving it to the bereaved to bear the costs and logistics of organising a burial while still mourning.

Most of the operations are still fragmented and manual, featuring WhatsApp groups to fundraise and organise activities, radio and newspaper obituaries, as well as euologies and tributes whose access is limited to those who attend the send-off ceremony.

Which is what drove John Nyongesa to create SafiriSalama, a death technology platform to digitise the funeral industry in Kenya and bring the operations under one roof.

SafiriSalama, derived from the Swahili term ‘Travel Safe’, is an end-of-life services start-up whose platform offers digital death notices, memorials, and a directory of funeral service providers.

Since 2021, Nyongesa, together with Steve Lelei and Edith Orwako have been creating a tool to reinventing end-of-life planning, making the unpleasant task of bereavement in all its facets easier and manageable.

And with a Ksh.12.5 million ($100,000) funding from an American angel investor, the company, which rolled out its beta version in November 2022, has launched the end-of-life services platform, a one-of-a-kind in Kenya and Africa.

SafiriSalama says the funding will go towards completing the prototype development.

“Africans tend to avoid discussions about death or end-of-life planning. This lack of knowledge creates an opportunity for exploitation, as people are uninformed and emotionally vulnerable when a loved one passes away,” Nyongesa, who is also the CEO, told Citizen Digital.

Despite Kenya’s reputation for high level of technology usage such as internet penetration, smartphone access, and e-commerce growth, Nyongesa says the industry lacks a clear and user-friendly system for bereaved families.

This, he notes, leads to issues such as inconsistent pricing, unclear industry standards, and difficulty distinguishing between competitors.

“Grieving families face difficulty conducting proper research and often "pressure buy" due to a lack of published prices in the funeral industry,” added Nyongesa.

Among the platform’s 3 digital products is “The Redbook”, a business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) product and services online directory that connects verified service providers in the funeral industry with families.

The offering enables vendors showcase products, pricing, stock availability, and be search-engine discoverable.

SafiriSalama’s other platforms are Death Notices and Memorials. The former enables the creation of affordable and user controlled digital death announcements that can be shared across multiple social media platforms.

Memorials on the other hand provides a subscription to a one-stop-shop including a user-friendly noticeboard for managing a loved one's funeral process, preserving memories (galleries, links) and narratives collected through obituaries and eulogies, and enabling discovery through search engines.

Nyongesa says the start-up is currently on a 12-month introduction and consolidation campaign in Kenya, as it preparing for a pre-seed funding round to finance marketing, hiring, and product improvements.


Citizen TV Kenya Citizen Digital Funding Start-ups SafiriSalama

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