A website is helping Kenyans trace their documents saving them from the bureaucracy and high penalties associated with replacing the all important documents for Sh1200.
Zipate, which means retrieving the lost, is one such firm set up by three youths in Nairobi. After obtaining Sh100,000 from the Youth Enterprise kitty offered by the government in late 2013, the three web developers embarked on designing www.zipate.com site.
Erick Nzioka one of the trio said that they settled on the lost and found business after their market research and interviews from people who had lost their documents.
”We saw it as a perfect business opportunity hence we captured it. After all entrepreneurship is all about solving market problems,” said Nzioka.
Zipate give appreciatory fee to those who hand them lost documents.
Those in search of their lost documents are encouraged to log in their details on the site for free and are charged Sh1500 once their documents are recovered .
This price is standard both for identification, credit and insurance cards while those who lose driving licenses pay Sh1800. The charge for academic certificates found range between Sh2500-3000.
Mindgem, an on line find and lost firm interact with both who find and lose national identification cards across the country.
Their website www.mindgem.co.ke has two sections where those searching for lost identification cards simply write their full names and ID Numbers before submitting.
Lucky ones pay the company agreed fee once their IDs have been found. Those who stumble upon lost ID have a section where they insert details of the found card their contacts and geographical location. Agents from the company pick those IDs.
Although this is a booming business especially in urban centers courtesy of high population and multiple activities, those conducting this type of business experience equal share of challenges.
Nzioka of Zipate firm explained that although they earn at least Sh60,000-Sh80,000 a month from the business, a number those delivering lost document surpass those retrieving by up to four times.
”For every four documents we receive, we only manage to locate one owner,” he regretted.
He added that police think that they are encouraging theft hence frequent searches and interrogations.
”We manage to maneuver this easily by surrendering information on who and where the lost document was found since we have it on our database,” he added.
While those who successfully locate their lost documents via these services have kind words and praises, those who have found themselves in police custody for simply surrendering lost documents are in tears.
Unlike Goerge Kekono who Mindgem helped to locate his lost driving license, Gilbert Kinuthia spent two days at the Criminal Investigation office.
The ATM card he delivered to the same company late last month belonged to a man stubbed in car robbery in the City.
He only got off the hook after intervention by Mindgem company lawyers. ”We shoulder legal burdens for our volunteer clients”, said Sammy Muthee, a Director with the company.
Operators are enhancing scrutiny measures to ensure that they obtain documents from honest volunteers.
Muthee said that his company is working towards partnering with mobile phone providers to be able to trace those who deliver lost documents.
He urged the government to develop policies to protect registered lost and found firms. Currently, a person who handles a stolen property can be charged under penal code in Kenya.