Kenyan taxi app ‘Little’ looking to make profits

A Kenyan app designed as a platform for calling taxis has grown to a network of 2,000 drivers, offering around 10,000 rides a day.

Little, which was set up just one year ago is challenging Uber that has 5,000 active drivers in Kenya.

With few companies that offer opportunities for young female taxi drivers in the country, Lilly Muriuki signed up with Little, and is making at least $250 per week.

“It’s a unique company, to me I think its a unique company because there is an option for our clients to choose from basic, there is the lady bug option. So mostly my clients are ladies and they choose the lady bug option so mostly my clients are ladies, and I prefer they have the option so mostly I get lady clients”, she said.

The app that has partnered with telecoms operator Safaricom, plans to scout for an investor in Silicon Valley next year to help it expand across Africa.

It is already in the ground in Nigeria where it plans to start services in a month’s time.

They are also introducing an electric bus service in Nairobi which will allow users to book their commute using the Little application on their mobile phones.

Kamal Budhabatti is the CEO of Little.

“I think traffic is a big problem, traffic and pollution is an issue in the city, so we feel that in whatever small way if we can contribute to making it better then that’s why we are getting an electric bus, that’s why we are getting a nice bus where people would love. I mean today somebody may not want to jump into a matatu (minibus taxi) just because they might feel it too loud, it’s too crowded, it’s not on time it’s not clean”, Budhabatti said.

Little’s parent company, Nairobi-based software developer Craft Silicon has invested $6 million in the app that offers extra features to beat other firms, such as an SOS button on it.

If a customer feels unsafe for whatever reason during their trip and they press the button, they get an escort from the police or a partner security firm within five minutes, something that has been popular with customers such as Monica Waruguru.

“I requested little cab because you can request a woman, you can also go by Ksh20 per kilometer which I find cheaper. You can also use the SOS tab which is the security feature, which is also very very efficient for me.”

Other features include free Wi-fi in all the cabs and an inbuilt electronic wallet offered in conjunction with Safaricom’s M-pesa money transfer platform.

Little also plans to start offering rides using motorcycles locally known as boda bodas.