Kenyan startup Gari SMS has launched a SMS platform to serve the secondary car market. Used car owners who want to sell their cars can list their cars on the Gari SMS platform and print out a sticker with Gari SMS query code and stick it on their vehicle informing buyers it is for sale. This helps sellers with an easy way to inform prospective buyers the car is for sale even in traffic jams and car parks.
The prospective buyer than query the details about the car by sending the cars registration number to the SMS shortcode, and the buyer gets response immediately via SMS as per sellers description. The seller is also notified that a potential buyer has queried the listing.
The used car classifieds company earns from registration fees and SMS advertising. When a seller registers the vehicle, Gari SMS sends an invoice via SMS requesting registration fee be paid into company’s M-Pesa account before activation. Gari SMS also makes revenue by charging advertising fees when advertising text placed on the SMS response sent.
Gari SMS is also available online, where all listings submitted via SMS are displayed and new listings can be created. George Mwangi and Eric Muriuki started the mobile classifieds platform last year after a mobile application and entrepreneurship class at m:lab East Africa, and has recently completed a two-month pilot project with customers at the Jamhuri Car Bazaar in Nairobi.