Taxi-hailing service Maramoja started as an Uber for Africa, but has since taken a different spin on it.
“I came out here to start basically Uber for Africa,” Maramoja CEO Jason Eisen told me. “The idea was bring some technology to the Nairobi tech scene, which was blossoming, but nothing was happening in transportation.”
Since then, Uber, with its billions of dollars in venture capital, has made its way to Africa. Uber’s entrance is what prompted Maramoja to rethink its model a bit. Instead of treating drivers like commodities, Maramoja thinks of drivers as people and as individuals with relationships and clients, Eisen said.
To get a ride using Maramoja, you whip out your mobile phone, open up the Android app or web app on your phone, and hail a car. Within a few minutes, a trusted driver will be there to pick you up. You can pay with either cash or card.
These drivers are recommended to passengers through friends, friends of friends and your broader network. Soon, Maramoja is launching a feature that lets passengers report accidents, attacks or other emergencies.
While in Nairobi, my co-worker and I hailed a Maramoja car on the way back from the shoot to our hotel. It was a seamless experience, minus the part when the police pulled us over. But it seems that had nothing to do with the driver and more to do with that particular police officer wanting money. Once the police interaction was over, my colleague asked the driver what happened, and the driver mentioned corruption.
Anyway, Maramoja has signed contracts with 24 countries throughout Africa to bring its trust-based taxi app franchise to those markets. Down the road, Maramoja sees itself expanding into additional markets.
“Any sector where you’re exposing your home, health, assets or business to any sort of risk, there’s a better way than what any kind of other company has put out,” Eisen said.