Hitting One Million Users: A SafeBoda Rundown


Ride-hailing app SafeBoda has reached the one million downloads milestone on Google Play Store. This is after just over 3 years since it first went live. It has since become the most popular Boda Boda hailing app in Uganda and this explains the huge number of downloads.

History of SafeBoda

SafeBoda was founded in 2014 to give riders and passenger the safest travel experience on a motorbike in and around Kampala. It then hit the play store in January of 2017 and later the IOS app store in September that year.

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SafeBoda is the brainchild project of Ricky Papa Thompson (the startup’s co-founder) who was a commercial Boda Boda rider himself. This was motivated after witnessing the death of a close friend in an accident in 2013. He was named in the 2018 Forbes’ 30 Most Promising Young Entrepreneurs in Africa.

Other co-founders are Maxime Dieudonne and Alastair Sussock. Dieudonne met Thomson when he was still just a Boda Boda rider with a good idea and suggested the idea of starting an app. Dieudonne then brought his friend, Alastair on board and the idea started to be developed.

The SafeBoda operations started officially in 2015, but the company would spend almost two years before they came up with the right app. For example, in the first version, there was a list of SafeBodas, and you would just have to pick the one you would want to come and get you. Another version of the app linked to a call center where they would manually dispatch a driver to the customer.

Related Article: Wishlist: 5 SafeBoda Features we would like to use

Some of the Significant Updates on SafeBoda

  • Driver’s estimated time of arrival and Trip history. During the early times of the app, SafeBoda brought an update to allow you to see the estimated time of arrival of a rider and your trip history. The update went out on November 7th, 2017.
  • On 3rd March 2018, SafeBoda released version 2.0 of the app which was a redesign of the app.
  • In June 2018, SafeBoda entered the Kenyan market and released an update to allow credit purchase using MPESA.
  • On 22nd May 2019, SafeBoda redesigned their app again in version 3.0.1 Update.
  • In June 2019, SafeBoda introduced an option to buy airtime using SafeBoda credit.
  • In August 2019, Safeboda introduced a feature to share credit with other people. It also introduced a feature to improve your logistics using the ‘Send’ feature where you could send parcels to other people.
  • On 18th December 2019, SafeBoda introduced the food feature where you would order food from.

Through the introduction of new features, there were instabilities in the app and some bugs so SafeBoda occasionally sends out updates with bug fixes. SafeBoda also has a business option where organizations and companies can plan transportation for their teams using Safeboda. SafeBoda has also introduced campaigns like buying fuel from Shell outlets using credit.

Cross-Boda Expansion: Entering other Countries

SafeBoda officially operates in 3 countries and all these accounts for the 1 million downloads. The introduction of the option to add credit by MPESA announced SafeBoda into the Kenyan Market. For now, they predominantly operate in Nairobi.

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It also expanded its base to Nigeria although because of some issues, the launch came months after its announcement. In December 2019, it finally launched in Nigeria with operations in Ibadan mainly.

Key Success Factors

  • SafeBoda is its own version of a super app with ability to carry out various functions like food delivery, airtime purchase, and credit sharing while being able to hail rides.
  • Its entrance into new territories broadens its market base. In Uganda, SafeBoda has expanded the area of operation to areas outside Kampala. Also, it is able to welcome new challenges that come with new markets and hence better their service.
  • The SafeBoda academy where Bodas are taught the basics that pertains to the ride industry has professionalized the industry.
  • The strict discipline of their riders has ensured Bodas of good character are associated with the brand.
  • From a price point, SafeBoda is more affordable than the ordinary Boda Boda on the streets of Uganda.

Do you use SafeBoda? What do you think they need to improve on their app and service delivery? Do you see the company’s user base doubling in, say, a year or 2? Share with us in the comments section below.


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