Entrepreneurs turn their mourning into funeral service app

Sibahle Malinga
By Sibahle Malinga, ITWeb senior news journalist.
Johannesburg, 13 May 2021

When brothers Mordecai and Michael Pitela lost their father in 2011, the stressful and costly experience of arranging his funeral inspired them to coin a concept that would help bereaved South Africans arrange a funeral online, without any complexities.

Last year, the brothers collaborated with their mentor Henry Dubula to establish Imbewu Funerals, a tech start-up that provides an online-based service to assists users in managing and arranging funerals from A to Z.

The start-up has developed a mobile app that digitises the entire experience of arranging a funeral, by connecting users to over 30 service providers on the platform. Imbewu Funerals says it works with reputable funeral homes to help deliver the promise of making funeral arrangements convenient for users, during a very difficult time.

Users can gain access to a range of listed services, including catering, tents and chairs, priests, livestock, tombstones, flowers and wreaths.

The app, which went live a few weeks ago, already has over 1 000 downloads and recently started offering funeral cover to its signed-up users.

“In 2011, we had to arrange for the funeral of our father, only one year after burying our mother – both of whom worked for Avbob − but the entire process was still very complicated,” explains Mordecai, CEO of Imbewu Funerals.

“We had to quickly grow up and learn to arrange a funeral with everything that is needed, and we found the experience very stressful and costly, as a lot of travelling was required to get everything, and this is not good for a grieving person. We believe our story is that of overcoming past challenges through our innovative offering.”

Funeral planning mobile apps have gained traction since the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, with the likes of Sendoff being among SA’s latest such apps.

After many business attempts in other sectors, the brothers shared their idea with long-time business colleague Dubula, who loved the concept and joined them in their mission to establish the start-up.

Available for download on iOS and Android stores, the Imbewu Funerals App currently provides access to services based in Ekurhuleni and Soweto, and the company says it is hoping to service the entire Gauteng province by the end of 2021.

Ego Funeral Services, Jeanette Catering Services and Moilwanyana Funerals are among the providers listed on the app, with the list growing every day, notes Mordecai.

“Users are not charged for using the platform, but service providers are charged a service fee, which is between 8% and 15% depending on the service. We also generate revenue with the funeral cover that is offered on the platform at very competitive rates,” notes Mordecai.

The start-up is working on introducing more features on the app, including counselling services for users who need someone to speak to during their time of bereavement.