Where Africa and Technology Collide!

Kenya’s Groupon Clones: Rupu and Zetu

Groupon has been a massive success in the US, it’s a deal-of-the-day site, with projected revenue of $500m in just it’s second year. It uses the framework of “collective buying”, which means that if enough people sign up for the deal, then it’s on. If not enough people sign up, then it’s off. Revenue is shared per deal, Groupon only wins if the company doing the deal wins. Of course, this has caught the attention of savvy business people in Africa.


Rupu is launching today. The word comes from the term “marupurupu“, which is a freebie, something small handed out in the employer-to-employee relationship (could be considered a bonus). Munyutu Waigi is the business man behind the operation, and it was interesting to note that it was built out by Charles Kithika and Joshua Musau – all three members of the iHub.

Rupu uses Jambopay, which handles local mobile payment options Mpesa and Zap, as well as Visa.

Here’s their video on how it works:


Zetu launched about a month ago and they’ve had a few more deals under their belt – everything from manicures to movies. “Zetu” means “our” in Swahili, and it’s playing to the collective action part of the deal.

“Zetu negotiates huge discounts on popular local goods, services and cultural events. Then we offer the deals to thousands of subscribers in a free daily email. The deals are activated only when a minimum number of people agree to buy. So our subscribers get a great deal and the business gets a ton of new customers.”

Zetu uses iPay, which allows you to pay via your mobile with Mpesa, Zap and Yu-Cash.


I’m not sure if Kenya is a big enough market for multiple services like this. I believe it will come down to which of them can get past the middle and upper class customers and get to the average-income customer. The deals are definitely within the right price range, but I’m wondering if the distribution medium works. Should there be better mobile integration?

Each of the sites are also quite new, which means that there are a few rough edges that need to be worked out over the coming months. Most of the issues stem around user interaction, and making it a very easy and friendly transaction.

Collective discount/buying sites take a lot of business-side deal making, as well as the ability to garner a lot of people to follow and push the deals that they like to their friends. Time will tell which of these companies has the business chops to keep the site going and make deals happen that bring the masses of consumers needed to make it successful.

Finally, while there’s nothing wrong with copying a successful business model, the Rupu site is a little too much of direct knock off of Groupon – the colors, logo layout and site look way to close. They took the “clone” part a little to seriously… At least Zetu has a different feel to it and gets points for originality.


  1. I was a tad cautious. I thought Rupu was a scam. Thanks for clearing that up.

  2. Am sorry to say this but Zetu’s design is an exact copycat of Twangoo SA. Here’s the link to prove it http://www.twangoo.co.za/cape-town.

    They even shamelessly copied their code almost word for word.

  3. I agree with your statement talking about the websites not being able to get past the middle/upper class users… another kenyan Groupon site is ” Sokopal” which I found thru an advert on facebook ( which is perhaps is a better way at getting a wider audience to register) though I still believe the deals target the middle/upper class users they need to target a wider range of vendors…. Zetu definitely is tops with the site design!
    Check out Sokopal http://www.sokopal.com same concept but

  4. I agree especially how Rupu almost replicated the Groupon look and feel!

  5. @steve we are part of http://www.twangoo.co.za/, http://www.moykupon.ru/ , http://www.tuganguita.com/,http://www.dealhayom.co.il/, http://www.grupont.ro/

    We did not shamelessly copy their code, we actually use the same code.

  6. @ Steve:
    Zetu are affiliated to Twangoo. So it makes sense to keep the branding as close as possible. It is a global concept with similar sites all over the world. Give them some credit…. and do buy their deals 🙂

  7. Rupu seems to have money (newspaper ads and fancy offices) why copy ???

  8. Rupu actually means ‘discounts’ and not ‘marupurupu’!

  9. There are more ‘Daily Deal’ websites popping up every day than there are deals it seems. Reminds me of the penny bidding websites that have shown no sign of abating. In the arena of ‘super critical mass’ driven business models, jumping in at this point is akin to joining a pyramid scheme at the behest of 5 friends who’ve already joined. A few thousand daily deal websites popped up the day after the much publicized bid for Groupon by Google.

    Of course there’s the other point… achieving Super Critical Mass itself is historically done by taking a sack of money (literally), and dumping it on in-your-face advertising. Very rarely has it been achieved otherwise – well, that’s unless you’re the pied piper of hamelin with magical social engineering skills.

    I personally think there’s more money in developing Groupon Clones than there is in copying their business model at this point.

  10. Hey hash, thanks for pulling this out and for the article well covered…God bless

  11. That’s the problem wit kenya. Every gud idea gets copied and then its a continuous rate race with no clear winner.

  12. @Crazywizard kompetishon is onli pluf that thea isi chapaa samwea. Nilicharipueko kale karupurupu chusi chuu nilikua nimetisama ofa tam sana ya kupikwa picha ya masaa kadhaa na elfu mocha tu! Nikaamua he! Wacha nikachukue haka! Kufika huko nikaamua kurok-in na Fasipook Konekiti. Pato wakaniulisa kama nawesa ingisha mambo menkine. Sawa, nikaingisha. Nikapika ota ya photoshoot kamocha tu, kaamua kucheki out. Kuponyesa ‘Cheki Out’ hifi tu… fomu inkine KUPWA kanatokea ati nikachase yote tena kapla ninunue pithaa! Nikawacha tu!

  13. Sokopal.com was actually the first Groupon like site in Kenya – its built from the ground up by Kenyan IT guys. The big question is whether the groupon idea concept work in Kenya. It’s tough to know. I wonder whether Zetu and Rupu are making any money.

  14. I disagree with you. you say “At least Zetu has a different feel to it and gets points for originality”. Well, the truth is Zetu is 100% copy paste (even shamelessly including twangoo.co.za folders and files, color schemes and words). Is that what we call originality? Haki kuweni serious!

  15. While in a hurry to post my comment on how Zetu copy pasted twangoo.co.za, I realized that they are one and the same group and it’s quite logical that they look similar and share the same files. My apologies to Zetu team.

  16. Skeptism about new ventures is an inevitable part of business development.Rather than lamenting about the unoriginality of this idea,I think,especially young people,should embrace it,be the champions of change and innovativeness as it were….and moreover offer constructive and well intentioned critism.

    The challenge in my view,is getting enough businesses on board to offer their products and services at this group discount.Furthermore getting cutting edge new businesses that are themselves desperate for advertising would help.

    It would be beneficial too,if these sites were made known to families-especially young modern ones…who are always looking for a bargain when having family activities.

  17. Groupon just bought twangoo, which i believe is a pretty good deal. i wouldnt be surprised if they acquire rupu or zetu anytime soon..

  18. forgot to add this.. if anyone wants to start their own groupon site, a quick google search on “groupon clone script” will do the trick. Sorry to say this but Rupu developers are pretty good at downloading stuff, their business strategy is pretty good though.

  19. There was another one called Myshillings apparently its lyke dead any investor out there probably you cld buy it coz it has all the functionality

  20. there is a new site that is out called autobazaar.co.ke so far i think its the best auto site in kenya and everyone should look it up if you are interested in original

  21. @people give some credit to Rupu and Zetu……….n don’t be too quick to draw conclusion and to criticize!!!!!!!!!have u seen their CRAAAAAZY DEALS!!!!!!!! oh yeah!!!!!!!!!

  22. And what about new Daily Deal Aggregator in Kenya – Zambu.co.ke? 🙂

  23. There’s another one in Kenya http://www.pennysaver.co.ke and its different, offering door-to-door shipping and has some unique items including consumer electronics, toys, cool items, fashion, beauty and more, not to mention also offers deals on services like all the others.

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