Kenya’s N-Soko Vs Craigslist

N-SokoSo this week saw the arrival of Craiglist to Kenya. I’ve waited for Craiglist to come home for years and now it’s finally here. For those who aren’t familiar with Craigslist, it is one of my all time favorite websites. Craigslist is basically an online classifieds site. Its claim to fame is that its (mostly) free model has largely destroyed the paid classifieds market in the US and elsewhere. It is also run very admirably. Can you imagine one of the biggest web brands with a total employee count of <20 (last time I checked)? Paul Graham, in How to Start a Startup, mentions Craigslist in an interesting way, “I advised startups never to let anyone fly under them, meaning never to let any other company offer a cheaper, easier solution. Another way to fly low is to give users more power. Let users do what they want. If you don’t and a competitor does, you’re in trouble…. The ultimate way to be nice to users is to give them something for free that competitors charge for. During the 90s a lot of people probably thought we’d have some working system for micropayments by now. In fact things have gone in the other direction. The most successful sites are the ones that figure out new ways to give stuff away for free. Craigslist has largely destroyed the classified ad sites of the 90s…

So, the mighty Craigslist landed in town…just when the local giant, the mighty Nation Media Group, was launching its own online classifieds service, N-Soko. Now, I did not get a chance to have a look at N-Soko (because it was pulled down – shame!!) but Moses Kemibaro had a look and writes, “N-Soko, …even though it has the backing of East Africa’s largest media business, is on the backfoot. Whilst N-Soko is a great initiative in terms of creating a local online classifieds brand, the whole execution of the web site is lacking. It feels disjointed from the homepage as you open up separate browser windows for each category of classifieds. It quite simply does not feel as simple, user-friendly or as well put together as the spartan looking Kenya CraigsList.”

Now, currently, the N-Soko site shows “Site Under construction”. From Moses Kemibaro’s post, it is fair to assume that the N-Soko site had been up when he had a look at it. So, what happened that it was suddenly pulled down and slapped an “under construction” sign? And, Moses mentioned that some ads were already live on the N-Soko site. Pray, what happened to those? I don’t know, readers, this is just not good. I’m all for local creativity and enterprise but you got to do it right.

In my mind, NMG just put something together and launched it in the tried and tested Kenyan style of “good enough”, ugh. And it would have worked too – N-Soko would be heavily pushed by the NMG and would be successful, no doubt. But Craiglist came along. I’d bet that part (or all) of the reason that the NMG site is now “under construction” is the entry of Craigslist into the equation. This marks the first contact in what I hope will be a hot battle of two great sites. The wars for online Kenya are just getting started. 😀

We’re living in interesting internet times.

Additional Resources


  1. check out its a few days old and is seems to be picking up olready.

  2. Found this site. Very promising in deed and has great potential. The site was newly launched and its prospect are high. Indicates that they will have their own Kenyasource Magazine, an offline version of

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