SMS driven Online Funeral Coordination made in Zimbabwe

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Press Release- 16 July 2015, Harare

ZIMBABWEAN TECH ENTREPRENEURES LAUNCH AN SMS DRIVEN ONLINE FUNERAL COORDINATION STARTUP

Zimbabwean Tech entrepreneurs launch a streamlined funeral coordination platform called funeral.ly. The platform leverages on SMS and whatsapp to notify and share funeral updates to their targeted audience. This came after the founder experienced logistical hardships and frustrations after losing his grand parents . The funeral was to be held in a different city ( 8 hours away ) , coordinating things was a nightmare , with some family members overseas and others in neighbouring countries , the planning process was not an easy task.

On the platform, a user (funeral organizer) has to sign up and login to create the deceased funeral.ly profile. The profile is made up of the dates and name of the deceased, picture, google map directions and full funeral event details/program. These details are then captured on the deceased funeral.ly page and the page is then propelled via sms to intended contacts to any cellphone number globally. All this can be done on a smartphone within 5 minutes. The organiser can then give full event program once finalized and can choose to do a video livestreaming of the funeral event right on our platform.

Speaking at e-Learning Africa‘s Makers meet Ministers session at the African Union HQ in Ethiopia, Mr. Francis Chiwunda, founder and CEO of funeral.ly gave a full detail on the objectives and functiinality of the funeral.ly platform. They aim to capture all African cultural traditions and use technology to apply them in present day situations. One significant cultural aspect is that of funeral monetary contributions. African cultures often times accept monetary contributions from family and friends. These funds are collected and used to cover some of the funeral expenses but in most cases they are used as a gesture of solidarity with the bereaved family and showing sympathy – in the same manner as flowers are used in other cultures .

Funeral.ly has this functionality and uses stripe, an American secure online credit card processor which enables families to accept this monetary gift of love from anyone in the world via credit/debit card. It also allows Zimbabwean community to use mobile money (EcoCash/Telecash) and Zimswitch to send their funeral contributions albeit online. With this feature, the deceased family can get these funds in one well-coordinated big pot accessible to everyone from church members, social club friends and even work colleagues.

There is also a functionality to send flowers to the bereaved familily the send flower button is right next to the monetary gift and they both fall under the gift of love section. Family and friends can therefore order flowers online and send to the bereaved family.

Funeral.ly is proud to offer an interactive condolence message sending via its platform. The deceased funeral.ly profile recipient can choose to scroll down and leave a public, well thought and well written condolence message which the organizer can access on the dashboard and print out. There will also be emoticons to express feelings.

On the funeral event day, the organizer is able to share the full event itinerary/program with his/her funeral.ly audience (anyone who gets the deceased funeral.ly profile link) and this can only be added once finalized and the link would update itself. People can view the program on their browser or they can choose to download it as pdf or MSD.

The funeral.ly experience can be shared via whatsapp thus enabling fast information dissemination across platforms. The targeted users of this platform are any groups of people who care for each other. It can be used by HR department at work, Government departments, social and religious groups, and even at family level.

There is also a different package for businesses in the funeral industry , it’s called funeral.ly for businesses . This feature enables funeral insurance companies to extend their arm and track their clients in order to improve services offered. The company is given a dedicated portal whilst using their own branding.

For a live demo of the service, one can go onto funeral.ly website and scroll down to ” send me a demo SMS ” just enter your phone number and you will receive an SMS within seconds.

Commenting on the privacy and security of the funeral.ly platform, Mr Trevor Sibanda, CoFounder and CTO of funeral.ly assured users of the security of sensitive information such as customer credit card information. Funeral.ly DOES NOT! have access to or store any credit card information, all credit cards are handled through stripe– a very reputable American online credit card processor .

On the deceased funeral.ly profile, they are not search indexed hence search engines cannot pick them. Your deceased family member profile will never be found via any search engines such as Google, neither would your condolence messages and names signed on them.

However, the deceased funeral.ly link is accessible to anyone who can get it via secondary sharing methods such as Whatsapp. For those who would need a much closed setup, they can write to us and we can disable whatsapp sharing from their deceased funeral.ly profile. This would only leave them with SMS as the chief propeller of their message hence all intended recipients should be captured in the first SMS. Every link sent out via SMS is unique to that particular individual and phone number. The organizer is able to track the engagement data and check every link views   graphically.

Funeral.ly was built for mobile optimization thereby accommodating slow internet connections and is data efficient. Plus it works perfectly on Opera mini browser! For a better experience , we recommend veiwing the deceased funeral.ly profile on mobile devices .

About funeral.ly

Funeral.ly is an online platform which helps ease the burden of coordinating and organising a funeral. Using SMS, it provides an effective means for communication of the funeral event details and provides a non-obtrusive way for friends and families to share condolences and contribute funds towards the funeral. Funeral.ly addresses the morbid nature of funerals and provides a platform to break down communication barriers and can be used by a family organizing a funeral to large companies notifying employees of the loss of a colleague. Funerals are ceremonies for celebrating, respecting and remembering the life of the deceased and no technology can ever change this, using Funeral.ly you can focus on the memories and ease the logistical burden.

Contact Person

Mr. Francis Chiwunda /email: francis@funeral.ly / telephone (Cell ): +263 772729 066

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