Taxify Kenya Country Representative Gilbert Wambugu in this chat with Footprint to Africa, gives an insight into the dynamics and future of taxi apps in Africa and why the burgeoning innovation is now being embraced by those who used to be cynical about it.
Taxify is an Estonian online taxi-hailing app that was founded by Markus Villig in 2013. The technology is operational in Estonia, Czech Republic, Finland, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Serbia, the Netherlands and Mexico.
The company which also operates in South Africa launched operations in Nairobi, Kenya on July 1, 2016. Taxify Kenya is run by a locally-based team that handles driver recruitment and offers technical support to partner drivers and taxi companies that use the Taxify cloud-based dispatch software. Country representative Gilbert Wambugu talks on the Taxify experience with Footprint to Africa:
Taxify operates in the Baltics and Eastern Europe and Kenya is your second African destination after South Africa, why did you decide on Kenya?
After a successful launch in South Africa, we were approached by a number of African countries and Kenya was the next logical step in our African expansion. We see high demand for safe and convenient transport and are amazed by the technological advancements in the country with its growing mobile phone and internet penetration. We want to contribute to improving the local transport system in Kenya.
Taxify has only been in existence for three years but is already operational in 10 countries, what do you attribute this successful expansion to?
We have worked hard to provide the best ride experience from the car quality, the ease of using our applications and the trained and motivated drivers. We also owe a lot of our success to the highly skilled team, who remain focused on providing the best platform for both drivers and riders.
You have received $1.5 million funding from international investors, did that enable your expansion into Africa?
The funding has enabled us to focus both on providing the best experience in our existing markets and also expand to several new cities. Many of our markets are already profitable, so we can use those funds for further growth.
You only partner with fleets and existing taxi companies as opposed to independent drivers, why is that?
We are currently on-boarding fleets and taxi companies in Nairobi as we see a lot of potential in increasing their efficiency and offering them more rides. Independent drivers will not be left out, as we are looking to cooperate with all the market participants to offer customers the best ride experience.
You have signed drivers from the Kenya Taxi Cab Association, a local cabs lobby group previously opposed to Uber’s entry into Kenya on claims it was eating into their earnings. How did you convince them to embrace Taxify?
Kenya Taxi Cab Association sees the advantages of offering a convenient and modern Smartphone based solution to their customers and we are happy to cooperate with partners who want to innovate.
With competition from already established Smartphone apps Mondo Ride, Uber and newly launched Little Cab by Craft Silicon, how does Taxify plan on getting a competitive edge in the e-taxi business space in Kenya?
We believe that if we treat drivers better, they will also treat customers better. We are focused on providing quality and safe rides with both cash and debit card payment options.
Tell us about your price structure.
We take a low 10 per cent commission from the fare price, there are no hidden fees. Our commission is friendly towards drivers, who normally pay up to 25 per cent from each ride to other similar transportation platforms.
What do you think is in the future for the industry and what are Taxify Kenya’s business projections for the next five years?
We see potential of millions of rides moving from calling and street pickups to mobile apps. In Kenya, we will work hard to offer a great and safe ride experience, while improving the lives of our drivers with better treatment and more work. In the next five years, we believe Taxify Kenya will continue to be one of the fastest growing markets for Taxify globally.