Before shaking the Kenyan bodaboda industry, before the Kampala-based start-up would announce clocking 100,000 rides daily in the country, before it could announce that it had clocked 1 million users only a fortnight after launch in Nigeria and before the ride-hailing app would exit the Kenyan market just 4 years after entrance citing an unsustainable business environment, here’s the story behind Safeboda.
Founded by Ricky Rapa, a Boda Boda rider who was determined to decrease deaths from road accidents, SafeBoda began on the streets of Kampala, Uganda through Nairobi, Kenya, and down to Ibadan, Nigeria.
Ricky, together with two of his customers Belgian Maxime Dieudonne and Briton Alastair Sussock came together in late 2014 to bring innovation to the rapidly growing motorcycle taxi industry in Africa. They built an app that would let users hail motorcycles, send packages, and more at very competitive prices.
Also Read: RIP: Safeboda Exits Kenyan Market
Years later the app no longer works in Kenya and is facing a lot of heat in its home country. What went wrong?
Safeboda Caught Sharing Data With Facebook
An investigation report by Unwanted Witness Uganda alleged that SafeBoda had been sharing their client’s personal data with third parties without their knowledge or permission in 2020.
As the years went by and Safeboda grew, the vision changed, Safeboda was no longer about safety! SafeBoda was now sharing data with data mining companies like Facebook without the consent of the users.
The app used a Facebook business tool called a Software Development Kit (SDK). Via the SDK, Facebook routinely collected information on SafeBoda’s users via the SafeBoda app, this was months before the startup exited the Kenyan Market.
The National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) conducted an investigation and established that Safeboda was indeed disclosing users’ email addresses, telephone numbers, first and last names, mobile device operating system, application version, and type as well as user login status to CleverTap, a third party company domiciled in the US.
However, Safeboda was on February 02, 2021, exonerated through a NITA-U report that said there was no evidence that the company sold users’ data. Go figure.
There is an old saying: When you’re not paying for the product, you’re the product. I guess that answers these guys’ questions!
How exactly do you guys make money??
— Spartan (@SpartaNx254) April 17, 2019
Someone riddle me this… How does SafeBoda make money on 'cash' rides? …….
— Vasco (@vasher2k) April 5, 2019
Safeboda is so cheap and efficient. How do they make money
— Wil (@0_wil2) February 27, 2020
Safeboda New Terms and Conditions
There was a lot of outrage on the Ugandan and Nigerian social media space a few days ago after Safeboda made a drastic announcement.
SafeBoda updated its operating Terms and Conditions (T&Cs) particularly stating: “We will not be liable for any damages, direct incidental, and or consequential, arising out of the use of SafeBoda, including without limitation, damages arising out of communicating and or meeting with other participants of SafeBoda.”
From a startup born from a man who was “aware of the safety concerns associated with the widely popular motorcycle taxis in Uganda and determined to never be part of the statistic,” the statement was shocking, to say the least.
You can argue and say Safeboda is here to stay, the startup is still operating in Uganda and Nigeria and while that is factual, it is not the startup that was founded in 2014. Safeboda died.