MyRide Africa: Where Technology Meets Matatu
In Kenya, matatu (or matatus) are privately owned minibuses. Often decorated, many matatu feature portraits of famous people or slogans and sayings. Likewise, the music they play is also aimed at quickly attracting riders. These minibuses ply set routes, run from termini, and are used for both inter- and intra-city travel.
One organization is changing the way these matatus operate. From the coolest matatus to the latest in policy as well as what’s happening on the road, MyRide Africa brings you everything Public Service Vehicle (PSV) related in Kenya into one place. 2015 Kenyan Tony Elumelu Entrepreneur and one of the recipients of the Exceptional Alumni Award at the TEF Forum 2017, Edward Mbogo is the Chief Operations Officer of MyRide Africa A.K.A #TheMatatuGuys, a mobile service that makes public transport safe, comfortable and fun with a goal of not only formalizing and transforming the public transport sector but also reducing road accidents in Kenya.
The journey of MyRide Africa began when two former schoolmates reconnected during a high school alumni event. Edward eventually joined Bernard in his StartUp called NikoHapa that was dealing with customer engagement for small businesses. Afterwards, they went on to create MyRide Africa. This illustrates how networking plays a very important role for entrepreneurs. The use of Public Service Vehicle’s in Africa is tough and risky because of the informal public transport systems. According to MyRide Africa, around 56% of road accidents in Kenya are caused by Public Service Vehicles (PSV).
MyRide Africa enables passengers to communicate with each other, message Public Service Vehicle (PSV) owners, rate the Public Service Vehicles and preview ratings. There is also a built-in complaint handling platform for the PSV owners to manage. MyRide Africa aims to transform the current public transport system in Kenya by improving its service and providing traffic and other important information to passengers. Through the application, they also plan on reducing the amount of deaths caused by carelessly driven public service vehicles by up to 20% annually.
Prior to going to University, Edward worked in a Sales and Marketing company for 5 years. Meanwhile, he felt pressure from his family as friends were in University. However, Edward was able to gain his skills early and is now currently undertaking a degree in Project Planning and Management alongside running MyRide. His previous experience gave him a lot of exposure especially in dealing with people. Edward is motivated towards changing the lives of people using technology for public transport around him in Kenya and Africa as well as improving the Transport and Tech ecosystem.
In 2016, Edward and his team were selected among on the Tony Elumelu Entrepreneurship Program from over 45,000 Applicants Africa. In just a short while of getting on the program, MyRide Africa has hit the ground running with thousands of App users and policy moves interacting with various stakeholders in the Matatu Industry including SACCOs & PSV Owners, The Public Transport Operators UnionPUTON, The National Transport & Safety Authority NTSA as well as other bodies dealing with road safety.
The success and hardwork of Edward and his team have not gone unnoticed as they were one of the two Kenya finalists in The Africa Business Idea Cup 2016 that took place in Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania and battled it out with 9 other startups from all over Africa.
Edward and his team are forging on further in making steps towards formalizing the Public Transport Industry in Kenya and Africa as a whole.