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Kenyan small business directory Mocality is calling it quits after four years of operation, saying “all good things must come to an end”. The announcement came via the company’s blog and gave very little detail around the shut down.
According to the post, the company will be operational for just another two weeks before it all comes to a halt. “All of the Mocality Kenya and Mocality Nigeria operations will be closed on the 28th [of] February 2013,” says the post.
The Kenyan company was founded in 2009 and is owned by South African-based emerging markets internet giant, Naspers — an US$18-billion company that has stakes in Facebook, Tencent, Mail.ru and many other emerging market internet properties dotted around the world.
Mocality rocketed to the world stage last year following a brief tussle with internet giant Google around client information. The company accused Google of knowingly engaging in deceptive behaviour and telling “untruths”. After rumours surfaced that Google illegally used the Kenyan site’s database to boost its Getting Kenyan Businesses Online (GKBO), an initiative aimed at Kenya SMEs which do not have an online presence, the two companies eventually quietly settled the dispute.
The blog post advises business owners to retrieve all the data they require from Mocality’s systems as everything will be lost after the 28th, though all advertising obligations will be refunded:
Please log into the system between now and the 28th to retrieve any data that you may require from the system, as the system will no longer be available after the 28th February 2013. All paid for services that should have been rendered after that date (including advertising space and the like), will be refunded in full, and you will be contacted about that refund individually if it applies to you.
The company also assures deal customers not to panic as their coupons and deals are still valid until the specified expiration date.
“Coupons remain valid until they either expire or are redeemed in full by you at the relevant merchant. However, please log into the system between now and the 28th to retrieve any coupons or information that you may need as Mocality Deals will not be available after the 28th [of] February 2013.”
According to Neil Schwartzman, MIH Internet’s CEO for Sub-Saharan Africa, closing down Mocality “wasn’t an easy decision for MIH”. He says that although the company had a lot of potential the uptake just wasn’t there.
“This wasn’t a funding issue, the company was sound and had great talent. What you have to remember is that we play in the emerging markets and with these markets upatke is very important. The company had a lot of potential but not enough uptake.”
Schwartzman also says that this isn’t a refelection on MIH’s commitment to Africa as the group is still “very optimistic about the continent.”