Ride-Hailing Game In Africa Heats Up As Kenya’s Little Declares Expansion Intentions

By  |  February 25, 2019

Confirmations from a list of sources have revealed that Kenya’s ride-hailing company Little has declared its intentions to stretch its transport services to two more countries. The East African startup which competes with Uber and Taxify is looking to raise USD 50 Mn from more investors and take on Tanzania and Ghana.

Little schemes to begin offering ride-sharing in the Tanzanian commercial capital of Dar es Salaam in a matter of seven days while chomping at bit to launch in Accra in May. According to Kamal Budhabhatti, Little CEO, the company intends to get into a lot more countries than it is currently.

Little can be said to be a minnow compared to the big names in the African ride-hailing industries such as Uber and Taxify, but their arguable significance is not stopping them from going big into the continent. Information from Budhabhatti himself reveals that Little is having conversations with investors to secure USD 50 Mn in Series A funding. This financing, which is received when a startup opens up to external investors for the first time, will be finalized in the middle of 2019.

Budhabbati divulged that the company is in a showdown with a team of investors hailing from Africa and Silicon Valley.

The resulting investment will be used to develop the technology relevant to Little’s technology and make forays into other countries. While he remained quiet about the identity of the potential investors, it is believed that the company will score just as big as they have reported.

Little does not boast of the kind of balance sheet its rivals in the continent have. Nonetheless, the company, which was founded in 2016, has been attracting droves of drivers by encouraging them to offer additional services to earn extra bucks. According to Budhabbati, “Our drivers are agents, they can sell insurance to you, they can sell (mobile) airtime, they can pay light and water bills, they can do all those little things around that increases that income.”

Little does not just share a marketing strategy with Safaricom but is also backed by this biggest mobile operator in Kenya. 5th July 2016, Safaricom launched the indigenously developed ride-hailing app and began giving Uber and the likes a run for their money. The strategy is to win customers over with a cheap, improved, inclusive and varied-service that includes Wi-Fi and other attractive initiatives.

Dissimilar to Uber, this Kenyan company offers a variety of service categories: ‘Comfort’ and ‘Basic.’ The former is a regular service similar to that offered by rivals, while the latter is a low-cost option for older cars. With Little, customers can also schedule trips, thanks to the ‘Ride Later’ option.

Uber has its head high is many African countries, including Kenya, wherein it launched in the baby stages of 2015. It did not only attract customers by offering lower prices, but also cutting out haggling over fares. But since then, taxi drivers have expressed their dissatisfaction about Uber’s impact on business. In March, six men were charged with attempted murders in Kenya, including malicious damage to property over an attack on an Uber taxi driver in February. This is not the only reason why some drivers seem to flock away from the ride-hailing giant, as its competitors are offering other better innovative options.

Whether or not the competition will be fierce is something only a well-informed few can predict. But one thing is sure – Uber as well as Taxify, have the odds stacked right up against them.

Featured Image: qz

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