A Kenyan company launches its own version of Groupon

Rupu, launched in December in Kenya, is based on the same business idea as the US hit Groupon – group buying that gets lower prices for consumers and more recognition for businesses.

EatOut is a very useful sites that offers restaurant and cuisine information, reviews, and even enables bookings, keeping their clients in tune with what's happening in the restaurant scene and up-to-date on specials and events. They have signed up 150 restaurants in Nairobi, Mombasa Malindi Diani, and soon, Zanzibar.

Rupu, which launched in December 2010, offers discounts of between 50 percent and 90 percent through the concept of group buying and found that their customers were asking for restaurant deals. Consumers benefit from the sharp price discounts (which Kenyans love – see bazaars, Gikomba and the buy-one-get-one-free at Pizza Inn and Steers) while business owners benefit from free marketing and publicity, the introduction of new customers who are committed to buying, a minimum guarantee of sales if a deal goes live and instant cash, which is split 50-50 between the business and Rupu.

The first deal of the week under the partnership is with the new Sankara Hotel, which wants to show it's not as pricey as its current image.

Booking can be done through the restaurant or EatOut – and Rupu has trained and equipped business owners in authentication and redemption of vouchers. Transactions are completed online or by mobile phone and take a few seconds if you have enough money in your M-Pesa or Zap account. It uses PesaPal as a booking interface. Credit cards, which aren't as prevalent, will be introduced later this year.

– Limo Bankelele blogs on banking and business trends in Africa here.

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