Kampala, Uganda | ISAAC KHISA | Kamal Budhabhatti is the founder and CEO of Craft Silicon, a Kenyan software company with a local base and global aspirations that is steadily making inroads in the world of financial technology as well as transport. He spoke to The Independent’s Isaac Khisa about their planned expansion of the taxi-hailing business to Uganda, their first operation out of the Kenyan market.
What is your leadership style as a CEO?
As a CEO, I believe in empowering the people I work with and prefer to lead by example thereby motivating the team to perform better.
What is your claim to fame as Craft Silicon in Uganda?
Craft Silicon has been working in Uganda for the past 15 Years. Financial institutions like Pride Microfinance, Centenary Bank, Standard Chartered Bank, Finance Trust Bank, Housing Finance Bank, Tropical Bank, Exim Bank, FINCA, Ugafode and Habitat for Humanity are some of our clients who have entrusted us to make banking easier and efficient for our fellow Ugandans. This is a big responsibility… We manage our client’s expectations and provide a better banking environment for one and all.
What is your assessment of taxi-hailing business in Uganda compared with the rest of the countries in the region?
Uganda shows a promising growth for the boda-boda in last few years, which confirms that there is a huge potential for another form of transport. Uganda market appears more responsive to the new extents and opportunities. Equating this country with other countries, there is a huge transformation happening, which allows everyone to contribute to the growth of the market. The future is completely bright for the taxi-hailing as more player are entering this market.
Two years ago, you unveiled Little-Ride, a taxi-hailing app, in partnership with Safaricom in Kenya and now expanding the service to Kampala mid-May. What are the key drivers for the planned expansion?
Our Key driver for expanding Little to Kampala is to ease the transport sector and more specifically to the create affordability, efficiency and convenience for corporates in each country. We want to use our technology to empower the owner of the car and the drivers as well. We want to revolutionize the transport industry in Kampala where customers can easily order for the service via a smart app. Little is very inclusive and has different categories of cars as well as boda-boda. This gives the customers the option to choose any hailing option that fits their pockets.
How many drivers are so far subscribed to your platform in Kenya? How many are you looking at hooking onto your platform within three months of operation in Uganda?
We have over 10,000 drivers in Kenya who have subscribed to our platform and it is growing each day. We are looking at least 3,000 drivers in Uganda for our first three months operations.
Safety of passengers using taxi-hailing services has been an issue globally. How do you plan to ensure that passengers are safe as they take their rides using your platform?
Little puts safety as its priority to the passengers. With this in mind, we have partnered with KK Security who service the 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.
Why should drivers and customers consider Little-Ride rather than use the existing platforms offered by Uber or Taxify?
Little is more favourable for both the driver and customer. For drivers, the commission we take as Little is lower as compared to our competitors and most importantly we interact with our driver and customer. For that matter, we have a dedicated customer support team to hear the issues and feedbacks. 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 offer 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, we have made our rides safer by offering the SOS option where parents can be at peace when their kids are taken to school with a Little. Additionally, we do have the 24 hour customer service as well as a dedicated team which go through the comments and feedback given to the client at the end of each trip. This enables as to act swiftly and prompt incase a client had a bad service and appropriate action is taken. For Corporate clients, we offer an extra feature for control where we have a maker-checker. This enables the managers and supervisors to have authority as to whom can take a corporates trip and for what reason. We also offer very detail reports of which can also be customized as per each corporate for audit purposes. Proceeding to Uganda, we will replicate this all for our drivers and customers.
What is your future plans as Little-Ride in the taxi—hailing business?
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
What is the future outlook of taxi hailing business in Uganda?
Uganda is very adaptable and active market for taxi hailing. It has all opportunity to make it more conducive to the stakeholders. This country has its own support system and a bent to technology-driven business, which makes it more contributory to this kind of business.