Marianne Mwaniki

Avunja Mobile

Big Idea: Business-in-a-phone for young people in Kenya.

Avunja makes it easy for young people, particularly women, to set up a business and increase their income using only their phone. Their platform lets people sell products that are readily available from phones with no need for upfront capital - stuff like mobile airtime, electricity tokens and medical insurance. They virtually-coach their “agents” on everything from basic financial literacy to sales to business management. And they keep the agents connected on WhatsApp so they can support each other. They’ve started out in Nairobi and are honing the app to deliver higher, more reliable incomes.

Marianne is a banker, psychologist, and gelataia (gelato maker!). She’s worked on big sustainability programs at two global organisations (Visa and Standard Chartered) and got them embedded into the company’s core strategy. She and her husband moved back to Kenya after two decades of international careers to co-found Avunja Mobile to enable young people to earn an income using their mobile phones.

Rainer Arnhold Fellows