The sharing economy, enabled by technology, has disrupted transportation across the globe. But, the sharing economy is not new in Africa. If anything, it is an integral part of most African communities. It is, thus, not surprising that the pioneers of ride-hailing, Zim Ride, drew inspiration from Zimbabwe.
Yet, Africa's ride-sharing economy is still disorganized and inefficient. Take an example of Matatus in Nairobi. But, this is beginning to change as technology takes centre stage.
Many innovators, entrepreneurs and corporates have developed solutions to address this challenge. Drawing their inspiration from an industry popularized by Uber.
In Kenya, Safaricom launched Little Cabs and Econet launched Vaya Rides in Zimbabwe taking on the cab industry. While SafeMotos, Gokada and SafeBoda are taking on the boda-boda industry in Rwanda, Nigeria and Uganda. Egypt's, Swvl is taking on public transportation vans. Something Uber is pondering to do in Kenya, with the Matatus.
Against this backdrop of successful ride-sharing solutions across the continent, the World Bank and CFAO Automotive - the subsidiary of Toyota in Africa - joined forces to launch Mali's first bike-hailing startup, Teliman.
In Mali's capital, Bamako, the population sits at 2.3 million and growing rapidly - at 5%. As a result, the country's road network is coming under increased pressure. Especially when it comes to public transportation. Prompting the need for a solution.
The World Bank says, "traditional taxis are too expensive for the average commuter". While "alternative options are uncomfortable and slow". This results in overflowing with people on Bamako’s roads. Using bikes makes the commute "5 times faster than Sotrama (vans) and 4 times cheaper than taxis".
Launched in May 2018, Teliman is the brainchild of a World Bank-sponsored hackathon. The hackathon's aim was to facilitate open innovation between local start-ups and CFAO.
“This wasn’t an idea being imposed from the outside: it was a homegrown solution to a problem identified in the local market,” Abdoulaye Maiga, CTO of Teliman.
Thomas Gajan, Chief Innovation and Development Officer for CFAO Automotive concurred. Adding that he sees the project as a response to social challenges in Mali. In the end, creating employment for the youth and stemming the tide of migration to Europe from the region.
Teliman launched its first drivers’ cohort early this year, as a prototype to show that the model is profitable and safe. Not only to customers but also to future drivers. The company projected that by December 2018, a fleet of as many as 100 drivers could be on the road. With another 1,200 planned by the end of 2019.
To date, the startup has secured at least $700,000 in funding which came from CFAO Automotive. As well as a group of local angel investors.
But, Teliman isn't CFAO's first bet on the continent. The company has before invested in Kenya's logistics startup, Sendy. They will thus be looking to share lessons learned across the board. Seeing that logistics and ride-hailing are not very far from each other.