Savvy Riders is a Social Enterprise that aims to professionalize the African motorcycle taxi industry. We start in Kenya, where motorcycle taxi drivers are unable to run their businesses effectively and efficiently. The industry lacks regulation, and this leads to unstable income for drivers, poor service for passengers and many casualties. The solution is creating a community of professional drivers, which is clearly visible for passengers and operates under the motor-taxi label Savvy Riders. The community provides a base from which everyone benefits: the driver has a stable income, the passenger experiences a safe and reliable taxi ride and we achieve social impact. Unlike Uber and other taxi-hailing apps, we primarily focus on the driver. By training the drivers, equipping them with certified helmets and monitoring them, we are building a strong network of professionals able to offer a proper taxi ride. In the end, we will become a label everyone wants to be part of.
Savvy Riders started its pilot activity in Nairobi, Kenya, in 2016.
In Kenya, 3000 road traffic deaths occur every year: among these, 21% are motorcycle fatalities. Due to the lack of proper helmets, head injuries are the first cause of motorcycle deaths.
The problem is real: public hospitals are devoting valuable bed-space to accommodate casualties of motorcycling accidents. Moreover, the annual economic cost of road crashes add up to 130 million Euro.
“Did you know that many motortaxi riders don’t have a drivers licence or wear helmets?”
THE MOTORCYCLE TAXI INDUSTRY
Over the past decades the motorcycle taxi industry in Africa has grown rapidly, with thousands of new motorcycles registered every year. In Kenya, motorcycle taxis are called Bodabodas.
Nowadays, running a profitable business as a Bodaboda rider is not easy. Bodabodas are considered unsafe and unreliable, mainly because of the lack of learning opportunities. Their bad reputation limits the potential of this key form of transportation and prevents them from stabilizing their income.
Bodaboda riders cover a crucial role in Africa’s road transportation, carrying people and goods around urban and rural areas. It is estimated that more than 2,5 million Bodaboda rides are provided every day in the country.
Despite their popularity within the mobility sector, they also represent a visible part of the African informal economy.
Bodaboda riders have no chance to learn how to manage their business in a professional manner, even though they are willing to. The Bodaboda industry lacks structure and regulation: riders cannot benefit from educational programs able to prepare them properly for the profession. As a result, they cannot offer a proper taxi experience and are considered unsafe and unreliable. The Bodaboda riders often rent a motorcycle; they cannot get a loan to buy one. Many of them do not have a driver license, do not acknowledge traffic rules and account for several and severe road accidents. They do not care about safety, neither for themselves nor for their passengers. They do not wear helmets and if they provide one for their passengers, they refuse to wear it because of the poor hygienic conditions. Bodaboda riders lack basic skills for driving motorcycles as well as for maintaining them, which causes frequent bikes’ breakdowns. Furthermore, they are unaware of the importance of customer relations, which results in poor behavioral practices with customers.
This lack of learning opportunities limits the potential of this key form of transportation and prevents riders from stabilizing their income: if they cannot offer a satisfying taxi experience, they are unable to attract and retain the customers.
Savvy Riders is a startup ready to make a structural change in the African motorcycle taxi industry. We are based both in Amsterdam and in Nairobi.
Although being officially born in 2016, Savvy Riders started its activities under the Dutch social enterprise Koneksie.
Koneksie was founded in 2011 by Huib van de Grijspaarde, who was struck by the desire of improving the Bodaboda industry after traveling to Africa. Over five years, Koneksie’s team has conducted an extensive in-field research in order to understand the issues related with the current industry.
In mid-2015, Savvy Riders was founded to implement the conceptual solutions resulting from the research done by Koneksie. Guided by the CEO Peter Veldhoven, the Savvy Riders team now represents a social enterprise focused on professionalizing the motorcycle taxi industry in Africa.
Savvy Riders started its pilot phase in Nairobi, Kenya in 2016.
TEAM NAIROBI / AMSTERDAM
As a communication officer at Savvy Riders, I help the company in spreading the word about its activity. My overall responsibility is to ensure that we convey the right message to the right audience at the right time. On a daily basis, I deal with content editing, copywriting and social media management.
Huseyin R Demirhisar
HUSEYIN R DEMIRHISAR
I believe that by making good investment choices we can contribute to fair and just societies where populations have access to decently paid and available jobs for different skill sets, enough food, and knock-on welfare effects. My role as a social impact investment professional is to assist Savvy Riders to be a commercially and financially sustainable social enterprise and so to achieve its impact goals.
My role as an Account Manager ranges from maintaining partner and stakeholder relations to management support. I will do so by overseeing overall in-country operations development, marketing development and brand positioning to drive the achievement of Savvy as a social enterprise.
As managing director I’m working to create a distinct business culture that makes Savvy a unique and likeable company. In day to day stuff but also the big strategic picture I always check if we perform within time, money and quality standards. I take full accountability for all company operations.
Admin / Finance
As the finance and budget assistant I oversee all areas of Finance and Administration. I ensure that policies and procedures are efficiently and effectively implemented, with the main objective of realising Savvy Riders’ vision.
Dorine van Schaik
DORINE VAN SCHAIK
As operations manager I am the link between the team in Amsterdam and Nairobi and co-responsible for the creation of our business strategy. Also, I monitor and evaluate the implementation in Kenya and the overall planning. I use my background as Interaction Designer to optimize our user-experience. Last but not least, I’m responsible for fundraising, meeting new people and creating partnerships.
CEO - Founder
My passion for social entrepreneurship, design thinking and mobility solutions, is united in Savvy Riders. As a designer I play an important role in developing the business model behind the service that Savvy Riders facilitates. As an entrepreneur my role is to motivate the team, create synergy to implement solutions and gain traction to make it a success, both commercially and socially.
At Savvy Riders, I take care about the satisfaction of our customers. I relate with each individual on a personal level in order to ensure that our promises are delivered. I work to keep our standards high and check that everything between the company and its affiliates run smoothly.
Huib van de Grijspaarde
Founder - Chairman
HUIB VAN DE GRIJSPAARDE
As founder and chairman of the board I support the team by taking on a critical role to help optimise Savvy Riders’ business strategy, safeguard its social objectives and to find relevant partners.
Savvy Riders addresses the social issue of poor road safety in Africa. In order to reach this goal, we work together with business minded motorcycle taxi riders. We turn them into professional local micro-entrepreneurs willing to grow their business while making African roads a safer place.
According to the International Labour Organization (“ILO”), the youth represent 25% of the total working age population but make up 40% of the global unemployed population.
Africa counts a population of 600 million youth under the age of 25, and 72% of them are currently unemployed. Unemployment rates, along with the high informality of the African economy, affect the vulnerable position of young people, already aggravated by the lack of vocational training. In most Sub-Saharan African countries, vocational education plays only a marginal role. Hence, it has been proven that vocational training not only strengthens the link between people competences’ and market’s needs, but it also helps young people move into more sustainable jobs.
The lack of finance for starting one’s own business leads to a high rate of self-employment in the informal sector, which in turns lower the potential for productivity, growth and economic innovation. For most of the world’s poor, micro-entrepreneurship is the only way to eke out a living. Entrepreneurs in low-income countries are mostly small, and they often operate informally. Millions of people are left out from the financial system, lacking any means to fully realise their potential and break the vicious circle of poverty.
According to the World Bank, Kenya has the highest rate of youth unemployment in the East African region (17.3%). Many young people start to earn a livelihood by hiring a motorcycle and becoming a Bodaboda, a motorcycle taxi rider. Lacking specific entry requirements, this profession is easily accessible and appealing to many, especially to those who are formally unemployed but have family members to provide for.
However, becoming a motorcycle taxi rider doesn’t always mean becoming a successful entrepreneur. The lack of educational opportunities and the low access to finance prevent riders from running a sustainable business. On one hand, riders don’t get the chance of following vocational training and are not properly prepared for the profession. On the other, they are not able to afford new motorcycles and they need to settle for rented ones. Most riders rent low-quality and bad maintained motorcycles, which in turn affects the safety level in the Kenyan streets.
Savvy Riders provides Kenyan youths with the chance of benefiting from their own potential. We create employment opportunities for motorcycle taxi riders and work towards a formalization of their industry.
According to the World Health Organization, road traffic fatalities in East Africa kill more people than malaria. In Kenya, 29.1 road deaths happen every 100.000 people and road accidents are the leading cause of death among 15-29 years-olds. Motorcycle riders, along with their passengers, are one of the groups that are at the highest risk. The Kenyan National Transport and Safety Authority (NTSA) statistics indicate that 10.937 road traffic fatalities occurred in Kenya between January and October 2016. 1.673 fatalities involved motorcycle riders and pillion passengers. 414 riders and 169 passengers died, 472 riders and 326 passengers suffered severe injuries and 144 riders and 148 passengers were slightly injured.
As part of the Kenyan informal economy, the motorcycle taxi sector is highly unstructured and unregulated. The access to the industry is easy and doesn’t require specific qualifications. Riders cannot benefit from vocational training able to prepare them for the profession. Many of them do not have a driver license; do not acknowledge traffic rules and do not understand the importance of safety equipment, neither for themselves nor for their passengers. In addition, it is difficult to find affordable and good quality riding gear.
At Savvy Riders, we want to create a systemic change in the motorcycle taxi industry by raising awareness on road safety and increasing the number of safe and reliable rides. We do this by providing motorcycle taxi riders with easier access to vocational training, safer gear and safer motorcycles.
Countries that have implemented interventions addressed to raise awareness on road safety, build a safe infrastructure system and improve the safety of vehicles, have seen corresponding reductions in road traffic deaths. Implementing these interventions globally, especially in low- and middle-income countries, is an urgent need for saving lives on a global scale.
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