With the goal of empowering everyone to “be included”, Nairobi-based startup OkHi aims to “give the four billion people in the world without an address, an OkHi address to improve access to life-changing services,” explains Co-founder and CEO Timbo Drayson.
By combining the technology of Google Maps with a photograph of the property owners’ front gate or door, an OkHi address allows users to more quickly and easily locate a home or business. This will unlock commerce through enhanced logistics, save lives through improved access to emergency services, and increase opportunities for finance through better personal identification, according to the developers.
Over the past six months, numerous international supporters have recognised the great potential of the design. The team received a generous grant from The Gates Foundation, and are now backed by a number of investors, including ex-Google Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Patrick Pichette, and Silicon Valley venture fund Garage Capital.
According to Experience Designer Henry Ingham, approximately 150K of the funding was a direct result of the Design to Improve Life Investment Programme.
Along with eight other design firms, OkHi was selected to participate at Investor Day 2015, where they pitched to over 100 investors to seek funding and mentorship.
“The last two years have been spent climbing different mountains and solving problems – we’re in a much more established phase now,” Henry said.
“We’re so grateful for the impact [INDEX: Design to Improve Life®] had on our business.”
To date, the team have been working with Jumia –affectionately dubbed as “Africa’s version of Amazon” by Henry– to test the OkHi system.
“We’ve been figuring out how we can improve the navigation experience, and how we can integrate new features,” Henry explained. “We’ve gathered a lot of useful data and the goal is to make [OkHi] as useful for our users as possible.”
According to Henry, the next step is to engage other businesses in the e-commerce and food sales industry, which they’ve identified through detailed research.
“Right now, we’re exploring some options and assessing how we could meet different businesses’ needs,” he explained.