• Service industry activities accounted for 61.1 percent of Kenya’s GDP in 2022.
  • A digital tipping platform pioneered by Shukran SACCO seeks to harness service tips to grow savings among members in the service industry.
  • Kenya’s restaurant service industry provides jobs to over 80,000 people.

Digital tipping platform Shukran has devised a way to instantly turn tips into savings, a move aimed at boosting the savings culture among workers in Kenya’s vast service industry. The new platform will see restaurant workers directly receive and save their tips to earn dividends as well as seek loans. 

Service industry’s significance in Kenya’s GDP

According to data by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), service activities contributed about 61.1 percent of Kenya’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2022.

The digital tipping platform, through the newly formed Shukran SACCO, is looking to capitalise on the industry’s might and significance to grow savings among workers in the sector.

Shukran SACCO is a community-based savings and credit unit dedicated to empowering service workers with the means to save and nurture their financial development.

“We want to empower service workers to earn a better living by giving them an opportunity to save and support their financial development. Through the Sacco, we are creating a community of financially empowered individuals who have access to affordable financial services and can achieve their financial goals,” Shukran’s CEO Mathenge Waweru said. 

Read also: Covid-19 pushes Kenya’s luxurious hotel out of business

According to Mr Waweru, Shukran SACCO was started out of a need for the restaurant industry as a whole to have a unifying financial services centre.

“As the Shukran team, we found it odd that teachers had a SACCO, farmers had one, police had one, but the restaurant industry and staff did not. The goal is to bring all service workers in the restaurant and service industry at large, to save and grow together financially,” he noted. 

Nurturing a savings culture

The new SACCO is expected to be a vehicle for service workers to save and invest in their financial goals as well as a digital SACCO that is convenient and easily accessible.

“On Monday 29th of May, we will be hosting our first AGM at 29 Westlands Avenue at 10.00am. We invite all service workers from the restaurant industry to attend and listen to what Shukran SACCO has to offer,” Shukran marketing manager Faith Wanjiru said.  

“Most of the time, after I’ve offered proper service to my clients, they would want to appreciate me, either with M-PESA or cash. However, at the end of my shift, I would find it hard to save because of unexpected expenses. I’m sure that this applies to the rest of my colleagues in the industry. I learnt about Shukran and I couldn’t believe that I could receive tips in my phone and save in my SACCO account,” said Clarence, a service worker.

With round-the-clock support from the company’s dedicated team, Shukran SACCO users are expected to reap good returns on investment in a place where their funds will be well managed.

Shukran is seeking to ensure deserving service workers in the hospitality industry turn their rewards into meaningful gains. It is also helping to cultivate a culture of tipping among dinners across the country.

Since its launch six months ago, the digital tipping app has on-boarded 11 partner restaurants. From these, they have over 800 users, who have turned about $800 tips into savings.

Kenya’s recovering hospitality industry 

Kenya’s hospitality industry has employed over 82,900 people and together with trade services in 2019 engaged over nine million people. 

Kenya’s hotel industry contracted by 57.9 percent in the third quarter of 2020 due to Covid-19. In the three months to June 2020, the sector contracted by 83.3 percent, sending millions home jobless. 

Before the pandemic, the accommodation and food services sector was a key driver of Kenya’s economy. With travel curbs and hotel closures, however, the sector suffered huge losses.

A communication expert with over 10 years’ in journalism and public relations. My ability to organize, coordinate and follow through assignments has enabled me to excel in media. I have a passion for business in Africa and of course business in Kenya!

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