Philip Ngarambe, co-founder of AC Group, starts his pitches with a family business lineage. “I come from a family of transporters.” Born in Rwanda, Philip’s father was one of the first individuals in his home country who owned and operated an airline fleet and road transport business. At 8, Philip moved away to Canada where he spent his teenage years only returning a few years ago with dreams of becoming a chef, a dream he quickly shelved in the face of his father’s troubled road transport business.
Due to the informal systems that guide the operation of public bus transport across many African cities, it is not unusual for operators to be completely in the dark as regards the inflow of cash into their businesses. But operators aren’t the only ones on the shorter end of the stick. Commuters also have to grapple with the inconsistencies of public transport systems. Fares fluctuate for the slightest reasons—a change in weather or traffic conditions—boarding and disembarkation are mostly chaotic, and the general experience is unpleasant.
Philip says the idea for the AC Group’s flagship product, Tap&Go, was originally to help his father solve the cash leakage in his own business. With the Tap&Go cards, commuters only need top up the digital cards through its agents spread around the city, and tap them on a device inside the buses to pay for their fares. It not only ensured the cash inflow was more structured, but went on to reduce wait times and brought some sanity into the family’s business. With the success recorded in this small indirect test group, Philip and his co-founder decided to scale the model across the capital of Kigali.
Currently, about 1.4 million Rwandans use the Tap&Go cards in their daily commute and the AC Group is looking to provide ad-ons to the cards to make commuting even more pleasant.
Casky’s Abid Khirani only had to be left harmed and unnoticed for a few hours after a bike accident to realise something needed to be done about the safety of motorbike riders. As African cities continue to expand due to urbanization, the use of motorbikes have grown and continue to do so as the need to get around quicker grows. His product, Casky, an IoT device attached to safety helmets, offers riders visibility on busy roads across African cities. With light indicators that are motor sensitive, the device lets car drivers see when a motorbike is about to turn left or right and in the event of an accident, it is able to send out an SOS alert to pre-registered emergency contacts that ensure that help arrives timely.
Dr Shamim was tired of being helpless to her patients’ plights when they arrived just a tad bit late with cancers which would have been ameliorated had they been detected earlier. Having lost her mother to cancer and a survivor herself, Dr Shamim decided to do something about it. Her startup, CHIL AI Lab, has developed cancer self-testing kits that allow women screen for cervical and breast cancer in the privacy and comfort of their homes. Using a mobile app, the test results can be interpreted and recommendations made afterwards depending on what the results are. Dr Shamim says the test kits are 98% accurate.
Ange Balma Fredrick and his co-founder was spending a few days in a remote village in Cote d’Ivoire without access to the internet and felt cut off from the rest of the world. Seeing that village was also without electricity, he started thinking about ways to make these basics available to help such communities connect with the rest of the world. Using lifi technology, his startup, LIFI-LED, has created energy-saving bulbs that also serve as a tool to connect with the rest of the world through educational content. The solution is now in use in Madagascar, BurkinaFaso and Liberia alongside Cote d’Ivoire.
Over the course of the Pitchdrive Asia tour, the founders are sharing their passion and founding stories with investors across five cities in Asia seeking out investments and collaborations to grow their businesses and bring these solutions to more people across the continent who need them.
Be sure to follow their journeys on the tour. We are sharing updates on social and via YouTube. Follow @Cc_Hub and @TechCabal on Twitter; @cchubnigeria and @TechCabal on Instagram, Facebook and YouTube.
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