Nikohapa, which literally is two separate swahili words for ‘I am here’, is a hot Nairobi based startup that aims to reward users for visiting places around Nairobi. The idea is very much along the lines of Foursquare, allowing users to checkin to places via mobile – SMS or by use of the NikoHapa app. But it’s really more than that as the startup benefits both businesses and their clients.


The problem NikoHapa is addressing is the fact that businesses in East Africa (and globally) have few levers to engage, retain, and communicate with their market, and reward their most loyal customers. And NikoHapa aims to fill that void.

As a consumer, you visit a store or restaurant that has partnered with NikoHapa. You can then use your phone to checkin either by scanning a QR code or sending an SMS to a short-code. Your checkin pops up on the NikoHapa website announcing your checkin. With enough checkins to a particular place, you can receive various rewards – discounts, freebies etc

As a business, NikoHapa promises to help you retain your most loyal customers by rewarding their loyalty (and hence hopefully keep them coming). You also get feedback from your customers in the form of comments and recommendations (users can recommend places). In addition NikoHapa offers analytics services to track customers, what their likes are, when they come etc. Quite a bargain!

NikoHapa was one of the finalists at the recently held, Pivot25 conference. The company was founded by Bernard Owuor,  Jeremy Gordon and Caine Wanjau. The startup impressed quite a number of people at the conference. Tanzanian tech entrepreneur Mbwana Ally says:

I loved the location based checkin service- on the surface it looks like a foursquare clone- but actually the tweaks are very relevant to East Africa- for one, feature phone owners can check in using sms (given low smartphone penetration currently) and loyalty schemes with the merchant are built in from the beginning- the demo with Peet’s coffee at the event worked brilliantly- clearly the team were thoughtful about their piloting efforts.

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