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What’s the Buzz on

by on July 25, 2010 (the Bee Network it calls itself) could be described by an outsider like me as the “Facebook of Kenya”.  Actually, I think their goal is to become the “Facebook of Africa” since on the homepage of the site it has a title heading that states “ Connecting Africa” and it features a picture of the African continent filled in with a black face—this speaks loudly of their goal to become the “face” of African social media. John Karanja, founder of, says of the site: targets Africans and people interested in Africa. i.e. it is not exclusive to African but people who are interested in Africa and ensuring it meets its development has started in Kenya and we aim to spread into East Africa as well as other African countries as part of our growth strategy.

Anyway, has been on a roll since launching in 2008. Here’s a snapshot of what they’ve been up to:

  • In April 2010, went mobile with the creation of a free SMS, This is a smart move especially since internet usage via mobile phones in Africa has outpaced that of fixed broadband usage. Kenya is one of the countries that are leading the growth for the continent. allows users to send text messages to other phones and Whive memberss.
  • Whive also launched which is a mini version of that features status updates and short communication services.

In contrast to Facebook, who is overly concerned with privacy issues as evidenced by a few dust ups it’s gotten into over the last couple of years, has a high-level of openness in terms of users having access to information and also more interactive features. If you look at the home page , you’ll find that the platform gives you options to connect right up front. Here are those options:
• Browse Upcoming Events
• Browse our Members Photos
• Browse African Music Collection
• Browse our Blogs
• Browse our Games Collection
• Browse Members Classifieds
• Browse our Groups
• Multimedia Page & Live Radio

Now, if you look at Facebook’s homepage, like, it has a message of connecting but it only features a box for you to sign-up for an account—no up-front access to upcoming events, photo browsing, blog browsing as Whive offers—nope, just sign-up. Personally, I found to have an openness that Facebook did not and the site felt warmer and easier to use.

But, as it stands now, Facebook is dominating in Kenya, boasting more than 2 million users. However, I do believe and sites like it can make headway against huge international sites like Facebook and others by highlighting their own local uniqueness and really selling that to their users as an asset.

And,  it appears that Whive’s founder, Karanja, understands this as evidenced by his statement in a recent interview:

The future lies in successfully meeting the needs of our clients who are the African people. This means providing a set of tools that allows them to interact with the environment while allowing them to achieve development in every aspect. In technical terms we believe the future lies in the use of social networking tools as well as augmented reality to achieve the above goals.

From → Kenya

  1. Shinette, I thought Whive was fascinating, too. It’ll be interesting to see how far it’ll go.

  2. Whive is an interesting site and effort to become the social networking face of Africa and I understood the connection to Kenya as that is where the site began. Yet as you share, Facebook is achieving record growth in Kenya and seems unstoppable – a fact that even Whive seems to understand as there are links to share content on Facebook and embedded status updates from their fan page across the site. You mention in your post that Whive has been “on a roll” – but we need to see some numbers around growth to prove that point. Your point about Facebook privacy was important, but does Whive not have the same privacy issues because they are structured better, or just because they have a smaller user base? The main point of your post at the end was that “ and sites like it can make headway against huge international sites like Facebook and others by highlighting their own local uniqueness.” This point needs more thinking and evidence from you in order to be something really believable for the reader. What are some of those points of local uniqueness that are working for Whive? If they are not doing this well already, how would you suggest they do it? And, perhaps most importantly, how can you tie this directly to growth in Kenya (per the challenge for this week) instead of looking only at Africa more broadly. That level of detail is what was missing from your post this week. (3)

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