South Africa-based entrepreneur creates app to simplify funeral plannings

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The loss of a loved one can be both a moment of terrible loss and grief, and a moment of reckoning.

In South Africa sending a loved one off to their final resting place in a dignified manner; while mourning and observing cultural responsibilities; and tending to bottomless teas and coffees to friends and family - all the while trying to make sure you're on time to log into your "12pm zoom meeting" - is overwhelming enough.

Then there is the business of arranging the actual funeral. 'What coffin or casket will my siblings or family members agree to?' Burial or cremation?' 'What will people eat after the ceremony?''How do we divide the everything among us fairly?'and the list goes on and on.0

The Sendoff app tries to help answer these questions.

"The same way that you would book a place to stay on Airbnb. That is the same process that you would go through with Sendoff, i.e., you download the app, you, you know, look for the service or package that you want. You select that and you can choose by vendor, you can choose by price, you can choose by location. But ultimately you select what you want," says Sendoff CEO Zolani Matebese.

Matebese says the idea for the app was born out of frustration of planning a loved one's funeral, where he had been going from one service provider to another before he could find what he was looking for, at the right price.

Tshepo Ngwenya was tasked with organising his grandmother's funeral.

"Sendoff was born after I personally went through this broken process of arranging a funeral and interacting with the death care industry, you know, I helped out with a cousin's funeral and the process was just inefficient; it was opaque, it was costly, it was traumatic. You know, I really came out of it feeling as if I'd been through the wringer. And I just thought, you know, there's got to be a better way to do this," he says.

"I really believe that it could have come in handy for me, reason being, that I could have made all the arrangements, knowing that on the app it's a one stop shop," he said, adding "…so with me, I had to go through different types of people so that I could get one thing done."

While the app is still in infancy, the response has been a positive one from young professionals who find themselves having to arrange funerals of loved ones in their families.

Matebese says it is for this reason their target market for the Sendoff app is the 35-45 year-old age group.

"The section of the population that we targeted, the 35 to 45-year-olds have come into the role of funeral arranger a lot faster than we thought they would, because the older people, you know, have unfortunately been passing away. And so, you know, the demographic that we were thinking would use Sendoff has had that need a lot earlier than we thought they would," he explains.

Launched in Gauteng province in May 2021, the app will be available across South Africa in October.

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