After completing their university studies in computer science, classmates Ngugi Waithima and Denis Kiprono looked for jobs in vain.
In June, the two former students of computer science at Mount Kenya University met in a Nairobi office in a job-hunting mission. Later over a cup of tea, they discussed their challenges in search of non-existent jobs. Thir talk shifted to escalating traffic jams in Nairobi and the problems people face when travelling over the festive season.
It's from their traffic discussion that they hit some sort of Eureka moment. They mooted the idea of an app that connects travellers and people driving personal cars.
“We felt it was a workable and unique idea. We started working on the idea right away but we encountered a number of setbacks such as lack of computers, internet connections, and an office,” says Mr Ngugi. “I approached my area Member of County Assembly David Maitai, discussed the idea and the challenges with him and he agreed to host us at Central Empowerment Centre, a youth resource and training centre in Ndaragua Town,” he says.
That is how their app dubbed Share Fare App was born. Although the innovation was rolled out two months ago, it has rapidly gained traction. In Nyandarua, most of those who have embraced the idea are county and national government employees who travel between home and places of work.
“We realised that there are many people with own personal means of transport and are willing to drive other travellers towards the same destination at a fee, but they have no way of connecting to these passengers,” says Mr Ngugi.
He adds that the app is popular with workers travelling between Nairobi and Nyeri every morning and evening, or those who travel between rural and urban areas aover the weekends.
The app is also mostly used by college and university students who live in the same locality and study in the same institution.
“We already have over 200 subscriptions. Our target is 2 million Kenyans in the next one year but we hope to do better during the December festive season,” says Mr Kiprono.
The amount of fare to be charged by the driver, and the travel route is clearly indicated on the platform.
For the connections, the duo is charging Sh10 service fee, but intend to increase to between Sh30 and Sh50 after hitting their target.
A traveller or a driver can download and register on the platform using their mobile phones. Besides the Share Fare App, the group is also developing software and apps for Saccos and other corporate institutions.
“Youths have ideas but lack the platforms to implement those ideas. You might have very brilliant ideas but the challenge is where do you incubate, develop and implement them,” says Mr Kiprono. The MCA says he was encouraged and motivated by the young graduates and offered to help them.
“Their dream has come through, its a unique idea which is working. But they need to have the intellectual property rights, I have helped them register a company and we are working with a team of lawyers to assist them in the legal part of it,” said Mr Maitai.