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According to the Uganda Investor Authority, micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) are the engines of economic growth, development, innovation, and wealth creation in Uganda. From a continental perspective, these MSMEs create around 80% of the region’s employment. Formally registered small and medium-sized enterprises contribute up to 45% of the total employment and 33% of the national GDP, establishing a new middle class that is fuelling demand for goods and services.
To meet the increasing demand for goods and services, an efficient transport and logistics network is needed in the region. This is lacking in Uganda due to the inefficient and defunct public rail and road transport infrastructure. This transport challenge provided an enormous opportunity and inspiration to Daniel Mukisa, a 28-year-old Ugandan entrepreneur, to launch a transport and logistics start-up called Ridelink.
Founded in 2017, Ridelink is a third-party transport and logistics start-up focused on stimulating the growth of small businesses by creating sustainable and affordable mobility solutions. These solutions are tailored to facilitate the smooth running of business operations, increase revenue earnings, improve mobility efficiency, and improve the ability of businesses to tap into new markets. This start-up is primarily focused on offering innovative transport solutions to MSMEs who do not have the financial muscle for their own transport and logistics infrastructure.
Having initially co-founded a similar startup called Transporter, Daniel knew the potential that existed in this industry and had the right market insights to succeed with Ridelink. Transporter collapsed due to misunderstandings among the co-founders, which propelled him to start Ridelink. Daniel started by borrowing a car from his friend and promising to share profits in his newly founded car hire business. Conversations with his initial customers led him to the next discovery that changed his business model to what it currently is – an immensely growing solution for MSMEs in East Africa.
One customer introduced him to their organisation which heavily relied on Uber to transport its staff to various destinations. Though it was efficient, Uber was unreliable and unpredictable during peak hours. He reached out to friends who had taxis and started charging standard weekly rates to this organisation. His success with this organisation prompted him to think about how he could support other organisations that had similar needs, at which point he realised that there was a need to transport goods too, and not just people. This got him to re-imagine how he could help small businesses to move both people and goods, leading to the concept of Ridelink.
Changing the business model from a B2C-focused enterprise to a B2B company brought a significant paradigm shift to the business. From his testimony, he admits that the B2C customer acquisition costs were quite high, and there was a lot of competition from established ride-hailing platforms such as Uber. By adopting The B2B model and focusing on small and medium enterprises, Ridelink found an untapped market that needed the services he offered. They quickly acquired a good customer base by offering reliable and professional services to their clients.
Today, Ridelink has expanded its operations to include Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. The company is constantly looking for new ways to grow in these markets. In September 2021, the startup raised $150,000 in pre-seed funding, bringing its total funding to $250,000 since its incorporation in 2017. The Anzisha Prize which is run by the African Leadership Academy is one of the organisations that have helped to mentor and fundraise for the team at Ridelink. With 25 employees and over 2,000 drivers, Ridelink is continuing to develop cutting-edge technology in creating an efficient logistics infrastructure focusing on small businesses in the region.