By Prudence Minayo
Danson Muchemi is the CEO of JamboPay, an online payment gateway founded in 2009. It won the Google Innovation Awards in Financial Services in 2013-2014. By 2015, the company had 1500 institutional clients and processed over $50 million annually. In 2014, the company also got a huge boost after getting a contract with the Nairobi county government. The company partnered with the county government through Ejiji pay, an e-wallet service.
What started as a small operation in a cyber café has grown into a big business that employs more than 100 people in Kenya and also has presence in Senegal and Tanzania. JamboPay client base is drawn from the hospitality industry, retail, financial institutions and the government. Some of their well known clients are Sameer Africa, Standard Media Group, ICEA Insurance and Nairobi City Water and Sewerage company.
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At the helm of this successful empire is Danson Muchemi who started doing business in primary school. By 2015, several publications put his net worth at over Sh400 million.
Here is the story of the entrepreneur as told by WoK.
Background and Education
He was born in 1984 and brought up in Nyandarua. He went to Gikeno Primary School and Nguviu Boys High School. After his O-levels, he pursued a diploma in Management Information systems at Strathmore. He then joined Kenyatta University for a Bachelor of science degree in Telecommunications and Information Technology.
His entrepreneurial journey began in primary school when he began breeding and selling rabbits. This urge to do business continued to grow and while in university he made money through digitalising the lecturer’s content for those who missed class. He would then package and sell them. This and his movie library business gave him enough money to sustain himself while he was in the university.
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JamboPay was founded when Danson was 25 years old. It came about after he wanted to start an E-commerce shop but could not find a dependable online payment gateway to process payments for the shop.
Joining forces with some friends, they founded JamboPay. The company was registered under Web Tribe Ltd. At the time, they did not have sufficient capital and hired computers at a cyber cafe at Sh4500 per computer monthly. They came up with the company vision, mission and initial business plan. They also had less than Sh100,000 startup capital and for six months they operated at the cyber cafe.
The first year of business was marked with various challenges. It was difficult to obtain clients, partners and licenses. The big break came when a local bank agreed to partner with them to make e-payments. In 2014, they got a big deal after getting a contract with the Nairobi county government to automate parking fees, permit fees, land rates and rental fees. This was followed by a deal with NHIF in April the same year.
In 2014, the company was awarded a contract by National Health Insurance Fund (NHIF). This deal came under fire as Muchemi and his business partner Robert Muriithi were charged alongside others over the alleged loss of Sh500 million by NHIF in 2018. The charges against them were dropped in 2020 as Business Daily revealed they had agreed to be the prosecutor’s witnesses. To be pardoned, they would fully disclose how they were awarded the contract and its extension.
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Their deal with the Nairobi county government also came under scrutiny as it was alleged that there were companies offering a less percentage commission that didn’t get the job. Out of the total collection by the government, their Commission was between 4 to 4.5%. This was questioned as other reliable providers were ready to do the deal at half this amount.
In February 2020, Danson accused former governor Mike Sonko of threatening his life. This was after he was involved in a road accident that led to his hospitalization for six days. The CEO recorded a statement at the DCI office under OB36/22/2/2020. He alleged that Sonko called him and threatened his life.
“During our conversation, he told me wewe unaniangusha niko na mashida sasa hata impeachment inakuja na unaniangusha, chunga,”
In response, the politician recorded a statement under OB 41/22/2/2020 saying the claims were false. While he admitted to calling Danson Muchemi in February 2020, he said the businessman was not honest about the full scope of their conversation. He also added that he found it strange that Danson reported the matter two days after the alleged threat.
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