Africa Ride, which was founded in December 2016, is a taxi-hailing application that connects customers with private drivers.
Thabo Mashale founded the company while he was working as a call centre agent in 2012. At the time, it was a shuttle service, but as the climate of the industry began to change – with the introduction of apps such as Uber and Taxify – Mashale adapted.
He named the company Africa Ride and introduced the application that he describes as being extremely personal and having a much wider offering than what South African consumers are accustomed to.
“The company still offers the shuttle services but we’ve included the app so we can service both individuals and corporates,” he explains.
Africa Ride has been able to set itself apart from companies that offer a similar service.
“The experience we offer is from a shuttle point of view, so we have kept that kind of quality service. Africa Ride also offers tours so, for example, an individual or group can order a tour of Soweto or Sun City,” he says. “We don’t provide just a platform – we provide an experience as well.”
One of the visions of the business is to empower people, which is why every driver on Africa Ride owns a stake in the company.
“I’ve set aside a portion of the business that I’m giving to all the drivers for free, so they’re part of the ownership of the business,” Mashale explains. “We don’t want to just have them as drivers; we want to make them business owners and wealth creators.”
While Africa Ride operates in Johannesburg and Cape Town, it’s also available in Rustenburg, which isn’t a common feature of other taxi-hailing apps. Mashale tells us why this was important for him.
“American and European companies that operate in the country choose areas where they believe they’ll make the most money. For me, the idea is to go into areas that no one else thinks of and to give those people first-hand experience of this technology. We operate in Rustenburg now, and next month we’re going to introduce the app in Polokwane.”
For a long time, Mashale knew he had a passion to make a noticeable difference in the lives of South Africans; he had a strong sense of wanting to leave this world in a better state than he found it in.
He ventured into entrepreneurship because he felt that being employed “confined him under someone else’s regulations”.
“With entrepreneurship, I can do that which I want, and that which is within me. I’m able to fulfil that strong desire to give back.”