Kenyan online sales firm merges with SA operator

Cheki Africa Media managing director Carey Eaton when he spoke to the Business Daily at his Riverside 14 office in Nairobi last Thursday. Diana Ngila

A Kenyan-based online classified firm Cheki Africa Media has merged its operation with Private Property Holdings, a South African-based company.

The move, the owners say, will enable them consolidate their resources and synergies but pointedly comes soon after the demise of another online services vendor, Mocality.

The new entity will now be known as One Africa Media, bringing the five online brands previously held by both parties under one roof.

Cheki Africa Media owned two online jobs search website (East Africa) and Jobberman (West Africa), besides Cheki that deals with motor vehicles, while Private Property Holdings owns SafariNow and PrivateProperty.

One Africa Media’s main shareholders are Cheki Africa Media managing director Carey Eaton, Justin Clarke, founder and owner of Private Property Holdings and US-based investment firm Tiger Global Management.

In an interview with the Business Daily, Mr Eaton said the merger would enable the firms to operate more efficiently in their various markets by sharing costs such as rent, human resource, marketing and advertising.

“The merger will give us ability to operate more efficiently, sell to a wider audience and ability to centralise some of the suppliers such as advert agencies that are currently handled by different providers and as such give as more bargaining power,” said Mr Eaton.

One Africa Media is targeting middle-income earners with considerable disposable income through its online classifieds — either those looking for jobs, wanting to buy motor vehicles and properties or seeking information on holiday destinations.

The merger comes barely a fortnight after another South Africa based online commerce firm Mocality closed shop in Kenya and Nigeria blaming it on a poor business model.

Mr Eaton is, however, upbeat about the future of online business in Africa and particularly in Kenya saying all the online firms that have ceased to operate in the country did not have proper business models that could sustain them.

“The myth that must be demystified is that online ventures are cheap to start and should be free. This is not true, just like any other business one must know which aspects to offer for free and which ones will generate revenue,” said Mr Eaton.

Cheki Africa Media uses hybrid models on its various brands. For example, Brighter Monday charges jobseekers Sh1,000 a month as subscription fee and Sh750 per motor vehicle advertisement placed on its website (

Currently, the firm says it has 35 million page impressions a month in the seven countries from its five brands. Improved telecommunications infrastructure in the region, which has seen the prices of Internet access come down, has made online business a fertile ground that has attracted players such as Google with Google Trader, Naspers with OLX and jobs portal that runs Job-mail.

Kenya has 17 million Internet users with majority accessing the web through their mobile phones.

The successful mobile money transfer services exemplified by Safaricom’s M-Pesa have solved the payments problems most online buyers grapple with in other countries. The plastic money business is also picking up.

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