This startup is powering Uganda’s motorcycle taxi industry

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There are over 700,000 motorcycle taxi drivers in Uganda, many of which lack electricity at home. A local startup is doing its bit to ensure they stay connected and have access to customers.

Launched earlier this year, Ayoyo Electronics has developed Aloyo v.1 BodaCharger – a mobile phone charging device is installed on a motorcycle, meaning riders can have their mobile phones recharged wherever they are.

Uganda has over 700,000 motorcycle taxi drivers, but 75 per cent of Ugandans have no access to electricity. This means both drivers and riders face problems keeping their phones charged and staying connected.

Founder Nassuru Mugega believes he has found the solution, after starting his entrepreneurial journey with a course run by the Strivers Foundation NGO in the United States (US).

“After the course, they challenged us to go back in our communities and try to solve the problems that face us daily in our lives. Back in Gulu my main problem was electricity. We would go weeks without electricity,” he said.

“This made me try to find a way to recharge my phone. I started developing the gadget to recharge my phone on a motorcycle. By 2013 I had a complete working prototype. I put it into the market and started growing at small pace.”

The pace is quickening, however. By early this year Mugega had put together a team of people, and Ayoyo has sold more than 1,200 BodaChargers in the last four months. The gadget costs US$5, with Ayoyo making a US$1 margin on each sale.

“My marketing strategy currently is basically use of word of mouth. Demonstrations are always made, especially when we are installing for a particular customer. Cyclists usually gather around and we preach our gospel, and the word keeps going,” he said.

The company has been started primarily using Mugega’s own savings, and survives on revenues. It is however in the process of seeking funding to help with the costs of future expansion. Ayoyo is in the process of setting up its own factory, plans to advertise more extensively, and is targeting 200,000 sales in the next year.

“Over the past few months, there have been a lot of people who have come to learn about our products,  and demand has increased,” Mugega said.

“We have not met demand yet in Uganda. At a smaller scale, we have started distribution in some parts of Kenya, and we have some pending orders in Rwanda. Our expansion plan is that, within a year, we shall be able to have capacity to supply the demand across the entire East Africa region.”

Ayoyo is even planning on launching a new product next year, which Mugega is currently keeping close to his chest until it is tested and approved by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS).

Raising funding will be key to the company’s future as it looks to meet demand.

“We would like to produce thousands of gadgets and roll them out into the market. The demand is so high, but we have to depend on the sales in relation to how much we can produce. That kind of limits us,” Mugega said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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