BY VICTOR ADAR
In this day and age, it is important to improve employees’ morale. And just like the old adage goes; stay hungry stay foolish, the odds are always good enough when a tax-free incentive is thrown in the mix. It is time for banks and manufacturers, health facilities, learning institutions and even newsrooms to warm up to good things.
Taking lunch programs to great heights, Digital lunch scheme provider, Apptivate Africa, is in brisk business thanks to improved business environment, investor confidence in 2018 and a growing need to create employee-employer emotional connection. Increased interest for the firm’s mobile lunch delivery app, M-Kula, signals more relief largely to local manufacturers and financial institutions.
“A number of companies especially in the manufacturing and banking industries that were lax in early 2018 are now interested in exploring how we can help them,” said Apptivate Africa chief executive officer, Neil Ribeiro.
Over the last few decades, manufacturing sector’s contribution to Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has stagnated at about 10%. Perhaps mutually benefiting incentives like meal vouchers by companies in 2019 would make it easy for sluggish sectors to pick up pace. The bottom-line is basically to accelerate demand, and keep morale up there.
“We are ready to be part of the big role of re-awakening the sector in line with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s Big 4 Agenda on manufacturing,” said Mr Ribeiro. “At the beginning of 2018, you could redeem M-Kula at just over 100 locations in Nairobi. Today you can redeem it at 280 locations countrywide.”
Uptake of the M-Kula App grew four-fold by end of 2018 compared to the previous year backed by key sign up of top brands including KFC, Ruiru based German Coffee Miller, NKG, Haco, Mondo Rides, Bags & Balers, Kingsway Tires, as well as Kenpoly. Over the period, the number of Kenyan employees enjoying tax-free meals was recorded at over 4,000, with employers reporting between 12% to 25% rise in productivity. This sounds like Valentine’s Day cheers. After all, employees under this scheme are entitled to Sh48, 000 in tax-free meal allocations wired directly to their mobile wallet annually (translating to a tax-free pay rise of Sh4, 000).
Available on IOS and Android platforms, M-Kula app allows customers to pay for meals delivered to the office, a move that provides a unique opportunity for organizations to embrace a new tax-free incentive to their staff thereby increasing employee engagement and motivation.
Those who have used the app are a happy lot. One Pavan Koshal who is the chief executive of NKG, a coffee-processing firm in Ruiru, and Apptivate’s customer, said that the App is easy to use, transparent and has a perfect book keeping system and has been of help as far as tax remittance is concerned.
“This is to show our commitment to improving staff welfare that has significant effect on employee productivity and company bottom-line. Feeding is key to the wellbeing of employees. With M-kula we are pushing for the best quality,” said Koshal.
Upon signing for the service, a company is given an account with details of the employer, and the amount each employee is entitled to in meal allowance per day. Once the order is confirmed and payment made, the electronic voucher is disbursed to the employees. The employees can then visit any restaurant that accepts M-Kula services, order and pay in the same way customers purchase goods and services through Mpesa.
At a time when the Presidency has listed sector policy review and incentives among priority areas to enhancing manufacturing sector contribution from current 9.2% to 15% of GDP by 2022, this fresh app is expected to accelerate momentum while boosting contribution in food sector, banking and manufacturing sectors to the economy.
With the potential of the tax free lunch schemes remaining high, the quest to boost productivity of workers and shore up their bottom lines will most likely be attained.
“Employers are realizing that they need to provide more than a pay cheque to keep their teams motivated. Food is a basic human need, and a great way to get employees motivated and to create an emotional connection between them and the company,” said Ribeiro.