Nigeria’s GoMyWay looks to reduce travel costs and pollution, with its ridesharing service.
Hitch-hiking may seem like a quite outdated and unsafe idea, but one Nigerian startup is revolutionizing the practice, by bridging the gap between a free ride with a stranger and a paid taxi cab. “Ridesharing” itself is not a new concept, as people have shared journey costs or hitchhiked for as long as cars have been widespread. However, GoMyWay aims to make a safe, organized network of road users who can all benefit from sharing journeys with strangers.
Reducing more than one cost
The costs of travelling by car are more diverse than simply the cost of the fuel. The driver has to consider fees for parking at their destination, car insurance, and toll roads. Therefore, any driver who could regularly charge a percentage of their costs to a passenger would clearly benefit. Likewise, while taxi cabs are expensive for any long journey, paying a driver only a percentage of their fuel cost would clearly save the non-driver money.
This is the crux of GoMyWay’s business model. Drivers can offer to take as many passengers as they have spare seats for, and potential passengers agree to a fee that covers their proportion of the journey’s cost. Users put their planned journey into the system, GoMyWay works out the suggested fee, and drivers are put into contact with people wishing to share a ride. The result is a democratized taxi service that saves all those concerned money, and reduces the number of cars on the roads too.
Damilola Teidi, of GoMyWay, said there were “too many cars on the road and lots of them with one person driving and empty seats,” adding, “It is ecological and economical nonsense. Ride-sharing is the perfect solution for these problems.”
Building a safe network
For many people, the prospect of getting into a car with a stranger, or having a stranger get into their car, might be unnerving. However, GoMyWay has worked to create a sense of security about those registered to use the service, and allows a community of users to self-govern through reviews and feedback.
Users have 4 levels of verification to go through, including their Facebook profile, cell-phone number, email address and a valid form of ID. Both the driver and the passenger can write a review of their experience, and users can customize their profiles to reflect certain preferences, such as no smoking in their car.
GoMyWay’s verification system ensures that the more stages a person has completed, the more likely they are to be chosen for a journey share.
Moreover, Teidi points out that ridesharing in Nigeria already occurs, but with none of the security in place that GoMyWay provides. Teidi explained, “Ride sharing happens offline with no safety measures in place. You pass by certain roads in Lagos or at the tollgate, and you see people offering and joining rides. No verification done at all. Same thing when you flag a regular taxi on the road, no one verifies the driver.”
GoMyWay is a service on the move. Within a year of its launch, there were more than 4,000 registered members, offering 30,000 seats across 20 Nigerian states. The organization has financial backing from successful business figures, including Konga founder & CEO Sim Shagaya and former Amazon executive Bill Paladino.
GoMyWay has plans to launch its service in Kenya, South Africa and Ghana. Unlike taxi services such as Uber, GoMyWay is simply connecting people – with the same planned journey – in order to reduce financial and environmental costs.
Currently any journey arranged via GoMyWay results in the fee being paid (in cash) by the passenger to the driver. However, as the business expands, the company plans to charge a percentage fee to registered drivers for each transaction. This system will ensure that GoMyWay generates its own profits, while the service still reduces costs for its users.
GoMyWay is proving to be an affordable, convenient choice for many people, but the company has grander hopes. With a focus on city-to-city journeys, and expansion into other countries planned, Teidi states that GoMyWay can grow to such an extent that it changes the face of transport in Africa: “We are building the new African rail network…except we are doing it on roads.”