An increasing number of SA players are opting to open ride-hailing startups — in a market already dominated by the well resourced Uber and Taxify. But entrepreneur Christine Mesolo believes there’s still room for more players.
Mesolo (pictured above) launched her Pretoria based ride-sharing startup uMashesha two months ago, having invested more than R3-million of her own money into the business and having received a short-term loan of R2.5-million from a business partner.
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Still on the hunt for more investment, Mesolo told Ventureburn this week that her startup has so far completed over 800 trips in and around Pretoria, East London, Port Elizabeth, Cape Town, Polokwane and Durban.
“I believe there is market for ride hailing and that depends on the strategies one has,” says Mesolo.
Centurion-based ride hailing startup uMashesha also provides delivery services
She claims her offering stands out from the “mushrooming” number of such startups in South Africa, because the company “values and respects” its drivers and points out that the startup helps its drivers with paying traffic fines.
‘Drivers are partners’
At present the company employs 30 full-time operational staff, 44 interns and 963 drivers.
“It does not make business sense that we want take a big chunk from their takings but they have to pay for all other services like, data, petrol, car service and liability insurances,” she explained.
‘Riders and drivers taken care of’
She insists Umashesha vehicles are fitted with car tracking systems, panic buttons and cameras — both inside and outside the cars.
In the event of an accident, both uMashesha drivers and riders automatically qualify for emergency air medical evacuation, hospital cash back cover, medical expenses cover, trauma counselling, mobility cover as well as accident funeral cover all up to R7500 per month.
Mesolo wants to scale her company globally by 2020. If she’s to do that she’ll have to find a way to dominate the local market, and that means beating Uber and Taxify and a handful of other local competitors.
Added delivery service
In addition, Mesolo, who says she has 20 years of experience in the transport industry, has integrated a delivery service on top of her startup’s mainstay ride-hailing service which she founded last year.
“During off-peak hours or at any given time our partners or drivers can accept courier service requests from the uMashesha app,” she says. She explains that the delivery service helps uMashesha users transport any package that can fit in a sedan.
She says both the ride-hailing and delivery services have become very popular, thanks to the startup’s marketing strategy which has made use of social media and radio.
“We still have to launch other services like grocery (deliveries) which will increase our market share and presence,” she added.
Her plans now are to launch her offering in more locations across SA. Next on the list is to add Mpumalanga province and Bloemfontein and Rustenburg to the list of locations she services — before the end of this month.
Says Mesolo: “With us a client or driver partner is never left to wonder and that makes us stand out within the market”.
Featured image: uMashesha founder and CEO Christine Mesolo (Supplied)