Online dating in Kenya - the face behind DateMeKenya.com

“People often want to know more and have many questions like who uses the site? How does it work? Does it work? Have you had any marriages? Do you cater to married people? I’d say 99 percent of people react positively,” says Isherwood the Founder and proprietor of DateMeKenya.com, a Kenyan premium online dating website. “We live in a world that is constantly looking at ways of making our lives easier. Online dating does exactly that,” he adds.

Isherwood set up DateMeKenya.com in 2013 specifically for singles after he saw a gap in the market. Although Kenya has a handful of dating sites, most of them are not actually Kenyan. They are international sites that change their name to match the country they are targeting. When you sign up to these sites you meet lots of people but none of them is in Kenya.

“We are strictly for people living here in Kenya,” he says. Isherwood describes online dating as an avenue for singles to meet hundreds of compatible matches at a click of a button. DateMeKenya.com encourages all its members to use the site to meet, flirt and chat online, then take it offline as soon as possible.

Meet online and go offline

“I do not believe in online relationships. Why would anyone want to join an international site, and start a relationship with someone halfway around the world, wasting days, months, and in most cases years, in the small hope that they might meet face-to-face? 99 per cent of the time they never meet, and time is precious,” he says.

“Meet for a quick coffee in a safe public place and see if sparks fly, if they do, then arrange a second date, if you don’t then you can move on. Remember dating is a numbers game!” advises Isherwood.

How it works

DateMeKenya.com is a subscription-based site with three membership options - Premium Chui, VIP Simba and Rafiki. All new members are required to register on the site before they gain access to the database of members. Registration takes about two minutes, depending on the user and the device they are using.

For example if you sign up for the VIP membership, you get extra privacy settings that allow you to browse incognito and hide your profile/photos from everyone except your chosen favourites. “We understand that online dating is new for a lot of people and the VIP option allows them to be in full control of their own dating experience,” he explains.

DateMeKenya.com members can browse other members, send messages, read messages, view their photos, send winks, start conversations on the discussion board, add and attend events and of course share their unique Date Ideas. “The main goal is to try and get the member out on real dates with genuine, like-minded singles,” emphasizes Isherwood.

The money aspect

Many people would argue that you can find love on social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. So why does Isherwood charge to be a member? “I don’t argue this at all. You never know where you can find love. Like most things in life, you get what you pay for. DateMeKenya.com has focused on creating a site that is filled with serious, fun, genuine singles. Twitter and Facebook, on the other hand, do not have a proven track record for successful relationships. But premium, members-only online dating sites across the world do. Twitter and Facebook are free and not monitored, meaning you are not protected or given any help along the way.”

The site currently has +94,000 registered users and hundreds of active (paying) users. Being a subscription-based site means only users who have selected either the Premium or VIP package have full access to the site and other active members. The site has been extremely popular with females.

On demographics, the site is targeted at professionals. Their youngest member is in her mid-20’s oldest is in his seventies. With the thirties and forties being the majority age bracket. “We do have a fairly large number of silver foxes in the 50+ category though. Something for everyone,” he concludes.

The 10 commandments of online dating

We spend a lot of time online. Why not make use of it by looking for love? I asked Isherwood how one can stay safe online. There is not much difference between online and offline dating. The same rules apply: be positive, polite and get yourself out there. The more active you are, the more people you will meet, and the better chance you’ll find what you’re looking for.

Here are 10 commandments….

  1. Pick the right site for you. Make sure it has the quality of users you are looking for (just like you pick the right bar you drink in when you go out with your friends).
  2. Include a photo. People who have uploaded a photo get 15 times more attention than people who don't have a photo.
  3. Don't hide your face behind a pair of sunglasses or a hat. Potential love interests will want to be able to see your beautiful face.
  4. Don't show too much skin. Nobody wants to see you pose seductively in your kitchen in your tighty whities.
  5. Don't use clichés. You may love long walks on the beach, but who doesn't? Say something interesting about yourself that is unique to you and try to go into a little detail.
  6. Respond to every message that you get. If you were walking down the street and someone said hello, you'd probably say hello back. It's the same protocol online. Respond, even if the answer is a simple, "No, thanks.”
  7. Don't reveal confidential information in your e-mail exchanges. If you were at a local coffee house, you wouldn't give out your home address to just anyone standing in line.
  8. Take at least five to 10 minutes to complete your profile. Think of it as your dating CV. If you are looking to land the best possible match then they want to know who you are and what makes you stand out from the rest of the crowd.
  9. Don’t lie. It will always come back to bite you.
  10. Stay safe. Meet in public places and try to chat on the phone before meeting up.