In emerging markets, up to 80% of the population may have to rely on informally-run public transport to get around. Literally, privately-run buses and cars. But journey-planning apps that work well for commuters in developed markets like New York or London do not work well in emerging markets, which is why you can’t just flip open an app like Citymapper in Lagos, Nigeria. Furthermore, mobility is a fundamental driver of social, political, and economic growth. If you cannot get around, you can’t grow as a country, so it’s pretty important for these emerging economies.
WhereIsMyTransport specialises in mapping these formal and informal public transport networks in emerging markets. They have mapped 34 cities in Africa and are mapping cities in India, Southeast Asia and Latin America. Its integrated mobility API includes proprietary algorithms, features and capabilities designed for complex transit networks in these emerging markets.
It’s now raised a $7.5 million Series A funding round led by Liil Ventures, that also includes returning investors Global Innovation Fund and Goodwell Investments, plus new strategic investment from Google, Nedbank, and Toyota Tsusho Corporation (TTC).
The platform now has more than 750,000 km of routes in 39 cities and the new strategic investment will drive further international expansion.
Devin de Vries, said: “We make the invisible visible, by collecting all kinds of data related to public transport and turning the data into information that can be shared with the people who need it most. In emerging markets, the mobility ecosystem is complex; informal public transport doesn’t behave like formal public transport. Data and technology solutions that work well in London or San Francisco wouldn’t make anything like the same impact, if any at all, in the cities where we work. Our solutions are designed specifically to overcome these contextual challenges.”
Mr. Masato Yamanami, Automotive Division’s CEO of Toyota Tsusho Corporation, also said that “our division’s global network, that covers 146 countries, is primarily focused on new emerging countries where people rely on informal public transport. Through strategic collaboration with WhereIsMyTransport, we will develop better and more efficient mobility services that help to resolve social challenges and contribute to the overall economic development of nations, primarily emerging nations.”
Finally, Alix Peterson Zwane, Chief Executive Officer of Global Innovation Fund, said: “Informal and often unreliable mass transit is a significant problem that disproportionately affects poor people. We are excited to continue to work with WhereIsMyTransport to make mass transportation in emerging cities more accessible and more efficient.”