Sunday, January 15, 2012

KBO.CO.KE: Mocality catches Google Red handed in a marvelous sting

Google Kenya has been busy building its Get Kenyan Business Online outfit, and by all appearances, it appears to be a smashing success. The company is busy building websites for Kenyan companies at a cost of Ksh.2000, a package that comes with a unique .co.ke domain.

But how does Google access the database of all the Kenyan SMEs? It simply scraps the data from Mocality website and dupes Mocality clients into believing that the two are actually partners and in some cases telling untruths about Mocality. Mocality is Kenya's largest business directory, with over 170,000 verified businesses listed and has been busy building a trusted database of Kenyan businesses for the last few years, in the process employing hundreds of Kenyans and helping others generate income. Mocality builds its database through crowdsourcing but in fact, in the past, I have met several Mocality employees physically visit business premises and verify information on location, contacts etc. Mocality is something that has been built with the "sweat of the brow".

In scraping the data and selling its KBO service to Mocality clients, Google has in fact contracted an Indian company, based in India. Kenyan business owners were receiving calls at first from Kenya then from India with offers for a Ksh.2000 website. This is the most painful part of this unfortunate episode, this at a time when thousands of young smart Kenyans are unemployed! To read more about this story and the marvelous sting operation, visit the Mocality Blog here. To be honest, I cannot tell the story as impressively as they do it.

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