Little Rides is all set to expand its reach in East & West Africa with proposed moves towards Uganda and Nigeria. The Safaricom backed ride-hailing startup is the brainchild of Kamal Budhabhatti, the founder and CEO of Craft Silicon. Launched in Nairobi in partnership with Safaricom and having settled its roots in Kenya, the 2-year-old startup is now ready to take on the ride-hailing industry in Uganda and Nigeria aggressively.
With over 10000 drivers on their platform in Kenya – a hundred-fold increase since October of 2017 –Kamal expects that in their first three months of operation they will manage to secure at least 3000 drivers in Kampala. He attributes this rapid uptake due to the presence of Craft Silicon in both Uganda and Nigeria. “Nigeria is where we have our biggest continental operations as Craft Silicon and so we believe we have leverage there. The same applies to Uganda where we are also based,” Mr. Budhabhatti had said.
Nevertheless, it is uptake with customers that should be the focus of Little Rides with international players like Uber at least having a 2-year head start in Uganda and a 4-year lead in Nigeria. While expansion plans into Uganda look an exciting prospect, Nigeria may be altogether a different animal. The West African country has witnessed the rise and fall of several ride-hailing apps, but with a population of 186 million people, the market is dense enough to accommodate competition. The fall of GoMyWay has seen the rise of competitors like Smart Cab and Oga Taxi. Both players are not only exerting their dominance on the Nigerian market and giving the Ubers, and Taxify’s of this world a run for their money but are prowling and bidding their time before expanding into the rest of the continent.
Nevertheless, Kamal has expressed that Little’s expansion plans will disrupt other ride-hailing models based on their prioritizing of drivers’ compensation, reduction of their daily expenses and prioritizing customers’ safety as well as maintaining fare transparency. “Little is more favorable for both the driver and customer. For drivers, the commission we take as Little is lower as compared to our competitors. Also, we have partnerships that reduce driver expenses; therefore, they end up saving more money. We also offer them discounted fuel and car maintenance, and most importantly we provide our driver’s kid-free Basic Computer Classes.
As for our customers, we offer them an affordable, efficient and convenient means of transport. We say affordable because our fares are transparent and at no point will our customers be surprised with higher fares for the same distance covered. Our prices are consistent be it rush hour or not. Moreover, Little puts safety as its priority to the passengers. With this in mind, we have partnered with KK Security who service an SOS button (a panic button feature) which is in our application. When on a ride, the passenger and driver have access to the SOS feature when they feel insecure at any particular time. KK Security will respond in less than seven minutes to secure both the passenger and driver, Mr. Bhudabhatti is quoted as saying.
Uganda and Nigeria while ambitious, pale in comparison to Bhudabhatti’s ambitions of expanding into 30+ countries over the next five years. “We have a very aggressive plan for Little Ride. We want us to be in 30+ countries in the next five years and change the transport ecosystem to suit all stakeholders,” he said. His approach with Little is a very inclusive one and perhaps a feature that will differentiate them from competitors in the market.
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