Kenya’s ride-hailing firm Little in talks with investors to raise US$50m

KENYA – Kenyan online booking and riding company, Little is in talks with investors to raise over US$50 million in Series A funding in a move to boost its expansion plans in countries across the continent.

According to CEO Kamal Budhabhatti, the company is looking to expand to Tanzania and by the end of this month and Ghana by May, expanding its ride-hailing services in the region.

The company plans to offer rides in Tanzania’s commercial capital Dar es Salaam and in Ghana’s capital city, Accra, adding to operations in Kenya, Uganda and Zambia.

Little, which the company CEO estimates to be valued at between US$70m to US$75m, officially launched in 2016 in Kenya and is said to be currently having 10,000 registered drivers in Nairobi.

“We are meeting a couple of investors, both on the continent and in Silicon Valley. The interest is there,” he said.

He added that the funds will be used to develop technology and to expand to more countries.

The company has been attracting drivers by encouraging them to offer extra services to earn money, something that has put it at limbo with rivals such as Uber and Taxify.

“Our drivers are agents, they can sell insurance to you, they can sell [mobile] airtime, they can pay light and/or water bills, they can do all those little things around that increases that income.”

Little Cab is the on-demand taxi hailing mobile app and service developed by Craft Silicon in conjunction with Safaricom.  

It started with great ambitions to achieve one million rides within the next six months, and it has worked towards this by offering four distinct value propositions, that are the basic, comfort, lady bug and executive options.

Unlike rivals like Uber, which is anxious of local competition, Little has a marketing partnership with Kenya’s biggest mobile operator Safaricom, and is also available to Kenyan customers who do not have a smartphone.

Uber, which has been operating in Kenya for four years, has 6,000 active drivers.

The ride-hailing business is not just sweet to local players alone, other international players who have grown mass transit routes in the capital

Egyptian start-up SWVL has expanded its route offerings since its January debut in the city where a third of road users rely on public transportation to reach their various destinations.

In competition against Little’s Shuttle offering, SWVL began its pilot in Kenya last month with 26-seater buses on two routes.

The app-based shuttle service allows users to book trips using their mobile devices which notifies them of the nearest pick up point, price and pick up time by the bus.

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