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Affordability is the power house of Rentoza—a subscription-based electronics and appliances retailing business co-founded by Mishaan Ratan in South Africa.

Having looked at the market, Ratan and his fellow co-founders (which started as a group of 4 South Africans) designed Rentoza’s business model to enable the common “man” to have access to new and “expensive” electronics, tech and appliances without having to break the bank for it.

In the convenience of your home, you can subscribe online for a period of time and receive your desired product(s). Customers get to return the product(s) after the subscription expires. Cool, isn’t it?

We enable people to always stay on the cusp of the best technology without having to extend themselves outside of what they can afford.We are not rental. We are not rent to buy. We are subscription and complete non-ownership of products. We believe that Access is the new ownership – Rentoza, on what they do.

Think of Netflix.

Ratan through Rentoza is bringing tech closer to the grassroots—demonstrating a strong entrepreneurship putting the African people first.

In one of his previous interviews with IT News Africa, Ratan provided more insight about the on-demand “rental” platform:

(Rentoza) Being the first of its kind, what exactly is an on-demand rental platform?

On-demand, simply put, is what you need when you need it – for a specific use or time. Globally, we see the world shifting to on-demand for a lot of lifestyle needs, which can be seen through successful startups in the last decade such as Uber and Airbnb: On-demand travel and on-demand accommodation.

The on-demand culture is due to two things: 1) The proliferation of technology – specifically connectivity – across the globe at faster and faster rates, and 2) The change in preference by a younger population who require a lot more flexibility in the way they interact with the world and everything in it.

We at Rentoza fulfil a similar purpose. We allow flexibility, access and also affordability (very important and specific to SA).

People haven’t moved into this space completely in SA but we see ourselves as pioneers in the space by allowing people to start using goods such as cellphones, laptops and baby equipment when they need it for a specific period of time. Once they’re done, they return it and there’s no further burden on them to bear the liability of a large investment spent to use an item and then sit with it having no purpose.

For example, your phone screen breaks, which inevitably always happens, and you need to send it for repairs or get an insurance claim done – it hinders your ability for communication.

Rentoza solves this problem by allowing consumers to rent a phone from us, the same phone that you have, have no interruption in connectivity and have a seamless experience while your phone is fixed, and then return the device to us. That’s how we fulfil the promise of on-demand.

With many South Africans struggling to make ends meet on a daily basis, how can Rentoza help them make a bit more money on the things they no longer need?

With Rentoza being a startup, and of course, a long roadmap which is constantly evolving, we believe in access at an affordable rate. The part that speaks to SA is affordability – no matter how little you have to spend on an item you want, we can accommodate for that.

Our focus currently is about getting this model right and making the enablement seamless. In terms of SA citizens making money off a platform like this, that is something we are currently working on and is constantly being reviewed – it’s further down the road with the platform.

Rentoza covers rented items through Old Mutual at replacement value, is there a worry that this might negatively affect the company in the long run? Especially, as there are items like smart tablets for rent for as little as R8.25 daily. 

While there is a high risk that we carry, there are many things to consider and trust is a massive consideration for us. We have to have insurance to make sure everyone in our ecosystem is covered in the event of a loss – there is some appetite for risk but we also mitigate it in certain ways.

We require a deposit for every rental which is fully refundable on return of the item in good condition and we also have a bespoke insurance model with Old Mutual that allows us to flatten the risk in most instances.

This, however, is off the back of credit verification for every person that utilises the platform – it’s like a filter that allows us to de-risk to some extent. The other pieces also play a part but the unique way in which we deal with money is the reason we believe that this will not be an issue going forward: Money is never transferred to any parties until a rental is complete. What this has done for us over hundreds and hundreds of transactions ensures that we have had a zero claim rate on insurance since inception.

With Rentoza being a digital platform, and with South Africa being a country so infamously affected by the digital divide, does Rentoza have any future plans to try and cross this divide, bring its platform to customers who may need it the most?

Again, this is what we strive for at the core of our business: Access and affordability. With these factors in mind, we can definitely play our part in closing the digital divide.

We provide the people that traditionally have not had access to these kinds of electronics, with easy access. We partner with the right people to assess customers which allows us to open our doors to them and have them use the online process that they can tailor to their needs – from product to timing to place, it’s all in there.

How does someone go about leasing their items on Rentoza?

Currently we’re looking for more suppliers to onboard onto Rentoza so we can widen our offering to the public.

As mentioned, leasing your item is still further down the road. So an SME or large business that wants to gain access to a large audience can contact us and start listing their products…

By Elijah Christopher 

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