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Afri Ride app heads to Zimbabwe

Afri Ride business development director Modikoe Mauoane.

Afri Ride business development director Modikoe Mauoane.

The creators of ride-sharing app Afri Ride are already planning to expand the app’s services to the Southern African Development Community (SADC), with Zimbabwe next on the expansion map.

This is the word from Modikoe Mauoane, Afri Ride business development director, revealing it will launch in Zimbabwe on 1 October. “We will also continue to expand into other SADC countries as the momentum picks up in South Africa.”

Afri Ride made its debut in the local market in December 2019, availing a digital platform that facilitates carpool, peer-to-peer car renting, peer-to-peer money sending and an all-purpose chat service, Mbira Chat, says Mauoane.

Described as a modern-day carpool, Afri Ride allows travellers looking for transport to connect with those offering transport in both a private and public capacity. The app makes it possible for car-owners to offer up empty seats in their car at a price they decide, to destinations they’re already heading to.

Mauoane explains: “The first phase of our digital platform offers is built primarily on the backdrop of providing security within the many willing ride-sharing community members who have been doing it on unsecure platforms, such as social media. To have improved security, we have made certain that it should start from the point of registration where we have eliminated the use of third-party registration, getting all our users to have a direct registered account with us verified by an OTP to a user’s Rica’d [SIM card] number.

“All users, regardless of which services they are offering or taking, go through a 3D payment verification system, which allows us to verify the user through their FICA documents at the bank. We also have a women-only option that allows women to travel exclusively with other women. Mbira Chat, the integrated chat service, allows users to communicate with each other to vet.”

According to Mauoane, Afri Ride is enjoying positive uptake from South African youth, with over 80% of its users being between the ages of 18-24 years.

He believes the Afri Ride team’s age demographic also provides a major advantage. The team is made up of staff members whose age ranges from 20 to 36.

“This gives us a competitive-edge and also adds to our commitment to excellence; we are our own target market, our peers are our target market – we are experiencing the same issues and having identical dialogues.”

Mireille Umuhoza, COO of Afri Ride, says this about her experience working for the tech start-up: “At Afri Ride, what takes precedence when developing the app is the potential user experience. Our team is made up of a diverse group of young and skilled members who are dedicated to developing the app in a way that resonates with the experiences and needs of the travelling community.”

The app also lends itself really well to campaigns focused on helping the youth, says Umuhoza.

“In January, for instance, we started a back to school campaign for university and college students where we subsidised the transport fare for students going back to campus. We partnered with a lot of public transport drivers who offered seats on the platform to participate in the campaign. This initiative really pulled together the community, taking us a step closer to building the Afri Ride travelling community.

“Because our users are mainly within the 18-24 age group, we wanted to interact with them in a familiar environment so we partnered with The Book Market, a second-hand bookstore, which buys second-hand textbooks from students.

“The bookstore would purchase books from students and make payment using Afri Wallet, the digital money transfer facility integrated into Afri Ride. This allowed a lot of students to interact directly with Afri Wallet and introduced them to a new and simpler way to look at fund management as well as money transfer.”

According to Umuhoza, Afri Ride is planning many similar initiatives in the future that it would like to take up again once the COVID-19 outbreak has been safely contained and regulations allow for it.

One such campaign is its internship programme, she says.

“We are working with final year and honours marketing students. What we’re going to do is give them the concept of Afri Ride and they will divide themselves into teams that will need to come up with marketing and PR strategies. We will judge their strategies and the team that wins will be given the opportunity to implement their strategy in an actual work environment.”

Afri Ride is also planning a number of updates to the app that will be launched at the end of the year along with the internship programme, notes the COO.

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