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Little’s payments to taxi drivers tops Sh1bn in 13 months

Little chief executive Kamal Budhabatti. FILE PHOTO | NMG
Little chief executive Kamal Budhabatti. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Safaricom #ticker:SCOM-backed taxi-hailing company Little says that it has paid out Sh1 billion to drivers in the 13 months since it launched in the Kenyan market.

Little chief executive Kamal Budhabatti in an interview said partner drivers had withdrawn most of this cash, Sh650 million, through mobile money platform M-Pesa.

The company has about 5,000 drivers on its app, who clock in over 13,000 rides during peak periods at the weekends.

Earlier this year Little launched a system for drivers to withdraw their money through M-Pesa as needed, instead of waiting for end-week reconciliations with the company. 

Little came into the market last year, as a challenger for the American e-hailing company Uber which had made its foray into Kenya in 2015.

The Safaricom-backed Little has since expanded beyond Kenya and is currently trialing its app in Lagos, with intention to launch next month.

Mr Budhabatti says that Little is still customising the app for Nigeria and had not yet decided if it would go into partnership with any mobile operator in the country.

One of Little’s rivals, the Estonian-owned Taxify, expanded into Uganda on Friday offering customers 15 per cent discount on rides.

Little had last year indicated that it also planned to expand into Uganda but Mr Budhabatti says these plans have been put on hold as the company focuses its attention on the larger Nigerian market.

Going by statistics from Uber, Nigeria is the third-largest market for taxi hailing companies after South Africa and Kenya.

The country, however, presents huge potential due to the size of its economy and its emergent middle class.

The local taxi-hailing market has been characterised by very stiff competition over the past two years.

They have competed on price in a contest that has often seen drivers suffer as the companies raced to the bottom in offering customers lower prices.

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