Safaricom-backed courier firm opens online taxi hailing unit


Boda boda operators wait for customers on Kimathi Street, Nairobi. PHOTO | FILE

A second Safaricom-backed company, Sendy has ventured into the taxi business with an online cab hailing application that has the option of ordering a motorcycle, commonly known as boda boda.

The new on-demand taxi service dubbed ‘Sendy Ride’ is available in Nairobi.

It adds to the firm’s delivery and shipping business offered in Nairobi, Thika and Kisumu. Sendy is minority-owned by Safaricom.

The telecommunications company invested an undisclosed amount in Sendy in November last year through its Spark Fund, which supports local mobile technology start-ups.

Safaricom, which also backs taxi-hailing firm Little Cab launched a fortnight ago, said it would support both taxi ventures despite the fact that they are rivals.

“Using our network as a platform, both Sendy and Little Cab plan to compete in an open market which is rich with opportunity, with the hope of providing differentiated services for a variety of customers,” said Safaricom chief executive Bob Collymore.

Sendy declined to disclose the number of drivers signed up on its platform so far.

The app is following in the footsteps of rival Mondo Ride, the only existing ride-hailing firm offering boda boda services in Kenya.

READ: Safaricom's Little Cab triggers price war with Uber

Sendy Ride taxi charges have been set at minimum of Sh300 for up to three kilometres and thereafter Sh70 per kilometre. There are no price surges, the firm said.

For boda boda, Sendy said users would pay Sh200 for any ride totalling less than seven kilometres, and after that Sh30 per kilometre.

Mondo Ride’s boda boda rate is Sh35 per kilometre and Sh3 per minute coupled with a base fare of Sh40.

Customers who hail a taxi or motorbike and delay for more than 15 minutes to board will be hit with a Sh150 waiting charge, Sendy said.

Sendy said it is banking on its two-year experience in the shipping business and training and vetting of drivers to take on rivals who are who are established players such as Uber, Mondo Ride, Little Cab, Taxify, and Maramoja.

“And to ensure a safe and positive experience for all our passengers, our Ride service providers are vetted through an intensive process of documentation, exams, and weekly trainings and protected under passenger insurance,” Sendy said.

Sendy currently runs an on-demand delivery service where the firm has signed up motorcycles, pickups and trucks to carry out deliveries.

Other investors in Sendy are Washington-based Kernel Fund, Nairobi-based Savannah Fund, angel investor Hello Media, and former head of IT at CfC Stanbic Bank Tom Macakiage.

Nairobi metropolis is estimated to have more than 10,000 taxicabs each doing an average of four trips daily, according to official data, valuing the capital city’s taxi business at Sh20 million a day.

This continues to whet the appetite of global and local players seeking to digitise Kenya’s chaotic but lucrative taxi industry.