Steve Wanderi, a dedicated taxi driver from Kenya, recently adopted Little Cab, a digital ride-hailing service, in his quest to enhance the quality of his services. This decision has brought about remarkable transformations in his professional life.
Wanderi notes that the biggest challenge for any cab driver is the lack of consistent clientele – but Little has solved this problem for him.
“The Little APP is impressive. You can’t stay in an area without getting a client. Most of the time, you get a client and are fully compensated for your time,” he says of Little, a Kenyan transport and logistics solution jointly founded in 2016 by tech giants Craft Silicon and Safaricom. Little Cab has nascent operations in other East African countries and hopes to expand beyond the region.
Wanderi is happy that with Little’s mobile application, a cab driver can get paid instantly without waiting for days or weeks to cash out.
“They calculate every minute you spend on the ride. Even if you are stuck in traffic, your hours are compensated. We appreciate them for that,” he says.
Nyawira Maina, the country corporate manager for Little Limited, says that besides providing excellent mobility services, Little has morphed into a one-stop app where clients can access extra services such as deliveries, entertainment, payments, and healthcare.
“We have a variety of products ranging from both retail and corporate. On a retail perspective, clients can enjoy aspects such as ordering groceries, paying utility bills and ordering a ride and delivery. On the Corporate front, we have multiple items and services. Companies can be able to order taxis, staff shuttles, courier services, and logistics which is a bigger vehicle category,” she says.
Maina says that the unique part about Little is the fact that every service is digitized.
“The other innovation that we added is for companies that have their own fleet of vehicles, we can sell to them something that is known as SAS (software as service) for them to manage their fleet using Little technology,” she explains
Within seven years of operation, Little currently serves up to 1,900 companies and more than one million people in Kenya alone.
“Out of 42 banks in Kenya, we serve at least 39 and are privileged of having the largest employer in the country which is KRA,” she says.
Maina says that for any ride-hailing service provider to thrive, they need a strong infrastructure. Unfortunately, both mobile and internet penetration in the East African region is still undesirable.
“In Kenya, we are privileged to have a 92 percent penetration unlike in other East African countries where penetration is still low. Accessibility to technology does not come cheap in reference to the purchase of data. This makes it a little bit hard for people,” she says.
Meanwhile, Kamal Budhabhatti, the Founder and Group CEO at Craft Silicon and Little, ranks scaling as the biggest challenge faced by young FinTechs.
“Beginning modestly with just a handful of clients, the demand for scaling arises as these clients start to embrace the new technology. Prior to the advent of COVID-19, there was a certain hesitance towards the uptake of new FinTech technologies. However, the pandemic has significantly expedited the pace at which people are embracing technology,” he says.
He further notes that much as scaling up was primarily a challenge, it has since become an opportunity.
“As the retail sector experiences significant growth parallel to FinTech, we observe an increasing number of Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) entering the retail consumer space. Everything is aligning, and we anticipate a substantial surge in the symbiotic relationship between SMEs and FinTech in the near future,” he says.
40 Days 40 FinTechs
Kamal and Maina are grateful to the organisers of the 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative for allowing innovators to converge and share ideas that can improve the FinTech landscape in the region and Africa at large.
“The 40 Days 40 FinTechs initiative provides an invaluable opportunity for us to comprehend the dynamics within the FinTech landscape. While global engagement is crucial, the significance of local engagement cannot be overstated. Regardless of geographic location, the presence of a local expert who can offer guidance and strategies for business growth enhances the value of this initiative substantially,” notes Kamal.
Little are participants number 41 in this year’s edition of 40 Days 40 FinTechs, run by HiPipo in partnership with the Level One Project, Mojaloop Foundation, INFITX, Cyberplc Academy, and Crosslake Technologies with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
Innocent Kawooya, the HiPipo CEO notes that Little APP is an example of last mile inclusion enabler.
“In our ongoing pursuit of fostering last-mile financial inclusion, it is paramount to acknowledge those at the forefront of this cause. The Little App is commendably providing services and opportunities to riders, retailers, and others, thereby addressing the needs of the underserved populace. This effort deserves our utmost admiration and recognition.”