The launch of Diva Taxi, a tech startup aimed at improving the transport sector in Uganda, is a testament to women’s resilience in the face of seemingly overwhelming odds.
Today, women entrepreneurs are not just content to eke out a living just to get by but are birthing innovative ideas that impact society as well as empower other women.
“If one door closes, a window opens” is the popular saying. This proved true for business partners Gillian Kobusingye and Sharon Rutega who lost their logistics business during the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and following this loss, they sought an alternative source of livelihood.
“We are a team that does not just settle for nothing, so when Covid-19 hit, we were eager to find something to do. That drive inspired us to try out something new,” Ms. Kobusingye said .
Why Diva Taxi?
Ms. Rutega revealed that Diva Taxi is a platform that offers transportation services.
It has dual cores that help women achieve social-economic empowerment as well as improve the transport sector in the country.
In achieving one of its aims, the venture offers women an opportunity to further boost their income by using their vehicles to convey passengers without requesting a fee to register these vehicles on their platform, especially during the pandemic.
“Many people were affected by the pandemic. We also realised the need for transportation of goods and people during the lock-down period, so we came up with the idea, to be able to help that woman who had lost her job but had a car parked in her compound to be able to make some money,” She further added.
“We were not making any money. We were at home depressed and thought of starting something to make some money and sustain our families,” Ms. Kobusingye commented.
Commencing operations in June 2020 when the country was still under lock-down, Diva Taxi just had the co-founders as the first two drivers.
“Before you launch a product, you have to test it. After realising the idea was workable, we connected the ladies that we had been working our logistics business and brought them on board,” Ms. Kobusingye further stated.
How does it operate?
As a female-focused startup, Diva Taxi employs female drivers. Some of the requirements necessary for employment include a vehicle in sound condition, a national ID, a driving license, and a certificate of good conduct.
In explicating the startup’s mode of operation, Ms. Rutega said, “We have contacts where we pick up staff and drop them off, we also offer corporate transportation, pick children from school, and all other transport needs,”
She further revealed that on average, a driver makes 30 trips per week.
“You turn on your app when you are available to work, you can do it even with a formal job. You can work extra hours on the weekends, or on your way home even after your 8 am to 5 pm job.”
Milestone and progress
Within four months, the startup has grown to 82 drivers. With about 1,000 downloads of their app, the business is on a race to keep up with demands to satisfy its increasing number of customers.
The Diva Taxi founders also plan to set up an all-female mechanic shop. Talking about what inspires her, Ms. Rutega, an IT graduate from Makerere University, said:
“We are passionate about working with women and thought if women are empowered socially and economically the entire society benefits.”
Currently, Ms. Kobusingye disclosed that they are still working on creating more awareness for the product, and are seeking to expand nationwide. As a software-oriented startup, accessing cutting-edge technology has been a challenge in expanding innovation.
“We are still using the very basic technology that we can afford but we if given the right software systems, we will soar and we are looking to partner to grow the venture,” she said.
Diva Taxi app outfitted with an emergency button is accessible to both drivers and passengers.
Explaining the function of this button, Ms. Kobusingye said, “This is like a panic button and is linked to the police and the office considering that it is an online service, we then locate where the driver is every time,”
The drivers are also taken through self-defense training to help them empower and protect themselves from assault.
Featured Image: Gillian Kobusingye, Co-founder, Taxi Diva
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