Over the last two years, ride hailing App Safeboda, just other transport sector players, has been adversely affected by the two Covid-19 induced lockdowns.

Initially at about 400 workers globally, Safeboda had trimmed its staff to 200 employees and that has been the story since March 2020.

Safeboda employs more than 10,000 riders in Uganda, most of whom are youth. But lack of work during the lockdown left many of them idle and nearing starving.

But as a way of avoiding such future challenges, Safeboda is now seeking to diversify its business by venturing into the electronic money (e-money) space.

SafeBoda has already expanded its service offerings to food and shop, buying airtime and payments, among others.

But the company management wants to go beyond. Mr Tim Jamieson, the SafeBoda vice president-payments and finance services, says they have applied for a licence from the Bank of Uganda, which will allow them to provide a range of new products, including building a payments ecosystem, open-loop products, savings products and working capital loans, to enable more people access financial services, easily and affordably.

 “If you want to send Shs5,000 across networks can cost you just Shs1,000 to do so or Shs2,000 if you are sending to-two-to-three different networks; we think there is more that needs to be done here. Mobile money ecosystems form such a large part of the back bone of Uganda and Africa as whole, so there should be continuous improvements in how this is delivered,” he says. 

The company will soon pilot its working capital loans product, to extend credit to the merchant partners with priority given to female-run enterprises to boost inclusion.