Kamal Budhabhatti, CEO of Craft Silicon, has announced plans to expand Little Ride, his company's joint venture with Safaricom, is currently preparing to launch its services in Uganda and Nigeria in the first quarter of 2017.
The taxi-hailing app's first venture outside Kenya aims to take on Uber, which already has operations in Lagos and Abuja in Nigeria, and Entebbe and Kampala in Uganda. Uber launched in Kampala, Uganda in June this year, and in Lagos, Nigeria two years ago.
Given the fact that Safaricom is not present in the two countries means that Craft Silicon will have to partner with other mobile service providers in the two countries.
Making the announcement, Mr Budhabhatti explained that Craft Silicon would be leveraging on its presence in other countries in order to facilitate the adoption of Little Ride in those countries.
We are now only operating in Kenya at the moment, but we are launching in Uganda soon. Safaricom is a good partner, but they may not be in every market. We therefore have to figure out how to grow the business to other markets. Craft Silicon operates in 45 countries globally and we are going to launch in all these countries, even if Safaricom is not there. Kamal Budhabhatti, Craft Silicon CEO
Little launched in Kenya in July, taking over the operations of Easy Taxi, which was withdrawing its Africa operations to focus on South-East Asia and Latin America. They have become known for their interesting features, such as free wi-fi, a live fare tracker, and payment via M-Pesa.
The service also comes with a Lady Bug option, where one can request a lady taxi driver. This is aimed at ensuring women’s safety, especially following reports of assaults by drivers on other services. They also have a corporate option for businesses looking to get transport for their employees without the need of hiring a vehicle. Users without smartphones will be able to access the service via USSD.
Little's entry into the rapidly crowding taxi-hailing field in Kenya sparked off a price war, with their main rival Uber lowering its prices in Nairobi and Mombasa. The two appear to be locked in a race for the bottom, announcing new features and options in an attempt to undercut each other. Little established itself as a cheaper alternative for passengers, and a fairer one for drivers, taking only 15% of driver earnings as commission compared to Uber's 25%.