Title says it all. SafeBoda, the Ugandan motorcycle hailing service, has just raised GBP160,000 (that’s around USD227,000 at today’s FX rates) from GIF, Global Innovation Fund. The investment is in the form of a convertible note. That is, a loan that will get converted to equity when the startup does establish a valuation.
“Despite receiving comparatively limited resources and attention, road safety is ripe for innovation and disruption. SafeBoda is a high-potential innovation whose testings offers valuable lessons for the entire sector”, GIF said.
SafeBoda is going through their pilot phase, and the investment is intended to keep the lights on, while they prove that there’s a market – a large enough market for the product they are building. This is me wondering whether Uber’s venture into the motorcycle-hailing space is enough validation for the business model.
They continued, “Safeboda’s model creates clever incentives for behaviour change. SafeBoda has adapted some of the lessons from the success of group lending in microfinance to road safety. Just as borrowers want to recruit safe money managers to their loan group, SafeBoda drivers want to recruit safe drivers to the network. SafeBoda uses financial incentives and peer pressure to fuel changes in motorbike drivers’ behaviour.”
If you’re wondering why the service was named SafeBoda, I have a theory. You see, Ugandans call motorcycles used for commercial transport, bodas – pretty much the same way we call them okadas in Nigeria (who comes up with these things, anyways). The general impression is that they are an unsafe mode of transport. SafeBoda is dispelling that narrative by enforcing rigorous safety standards on their motorcycle riders – helmets et al.
I guess it’s safe to say the Boda has become Safe.
Motorcycles are a nifty way to avoid traffic and to travel short distances really quickly in congested cities like Lagos. Speaking of which…when do those of us in Lagos get our own motorcycle hailing app?