7 December 2018

East Africa: Poa! Internet Launches Unlimited Business Internet for Low-Income Business Communities

poa! internet recently announced its move into business internet, building on its platform of street Wi-Fi and home broadband services in Kenya's low-income and rural areas, which have seen the company emerge as Kenya's fastest growing internet provider.

poa's! new, unlimited business internet services start from just sh2000 a month, with a one-off installation fee of Sh7000. However, the first 250 businesses to sign up to this service will have their installation discounted to Sh2,000.

"Enabling businesses with low-cost, reliable internet is key to our business mission and strategy," said Andy Halsall, CEO of poa! internet. "Our entire purpose in developing super low-cost internet services in areas such as Kibera, Kawangware, and Kiambu has been to stimulate Kenya's low-income and rural communities, with easily accessible broadband access, and it has become increasingly apparent that we serve local micro business entrepreneurs as well as regular consumers. These businesses need the lowest cost possible to access unlimited Internet so they can really develop the opportunities that being online brings".

46.3 per cent of SMEs close down during 1st year of operation

"Supporting micro and small businesses so that they can run and access online platforms to market their goods and services without the worry of running out of data is key to many of these businesses future survival," said Chris Rhodes, COO poa! internet.

A survey by Kenya National Bureau of Statistics released in 2017 showed that 46.3 per cent of micro, small and medium enterprises closed down during the first year of operation. The survey established that there were about 1.56 million licensed MSMEs and 5.85 million unlicensed businesses.

The survey cited a shortage of operating funds, increased operating expenses, declining income and, consequently, losses, as the main reasons for these business closures. Kenyan businesses seeking to grow their online presence need to embrace best practice to militate against such losses.

Unreliable internet connections can have costly repercussions to businesses and any amount of unplanned downtime can bring business productivity, internal and external communications to a complete stop.

In fact, research has found that businesses risk losing roughly 25 per cent of its online visitors if its website takes more than four seconds to load.

"Making sales is the lifeblood of any business, and in this day and age of social media, being cut off from marketing channels, as well as normal means of business communication and information, creates an extra and burdensome handicap for low-income businesses," said Andy.

According to a research published by the world development on science direct journal, volume 27 issue 1, a third of all working people in Kenya are employed in MSMEs which contributes 13 per cent to national income.

But, 73 per cent of the MSMEs make less than the absolute poverty line in urban areas and none of the MSMEs in rural areas makes above the absolute poverty line.

poa!'s unlimited business internet will now help these businesses cut their costs, with most small businesses currently relying on more expensive mobile data to run their operations if getting online at all.

"Affordable internet is one of the ways through which MSMEs can increase the scope of their operations, which has prompted the launch of our new service," said Chris.

It is easier for startups venturing into the e-commerce space to launch websites due to a high internet penetration in Kenya of 82.6 per cent, and with over 35.5m users, this guarantees businesses a presence of consumers, especially in urban areas.

s not just for the MSME's. For those companies located within poa! areas that have heavier speed and usage, the company is offering faster speeds, over and above the basic package, costing just Sh500 per month for every additional Mbps of speed.

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