By Henry Ojelu
Taxis, danfos and minibuses in the Nigerian commercial transport leasing market are usually leased by the owners to drivers who are expected to remit an agreed amount either daily, weekly, or monthly.
This process is, however, often marred by inconsistency on the part of the drivers who usually default in keeping to their end of the bargain by failing to remit the agreed amount and at the agreed time.
“Drivers that get the vehicles often come up with excuses for why they can’t pay despite an existing agreement. We’ve seen an incident where a driver claimed his mother died on two different occasions just to avoid paying the owner,” mygarage.africa CEO Sylvester Chude said in an interview with Vanguard.
This and many other challenges along the entire value chain is what mygarage.africa looks to fix. Mygarage.africa is a digital garage which allows vehicle owners to list vehicles for commercial hire and connect them with vetted drivers.
The platform was created by Envio, a mobility-fintech start-up founded in 2018 by Sylvester Chude alongside two other co-founders.
The mygarage.africa platform has an in-built billing process that guarantees rental fees are paid/remitted to the car owner and the driver is usually alerted by the system ahead of the due date.
If the driver defaults, the telemetry device disables the engine of the vehicle and informs the owner. But once payment is made, the engine is automatically restored. It is from this payment Envio gets its own platform fee.
The solution also has a tracking device that lets owners see their vehicles’ whereabouts in real-time. So no more lies from drivers about being arrested or immobilized all day.
Having used the device in over 1,000 vehicles since its launch in Abuja last year, mygarage.africa is looking to begin operations in Lagos this November ahead of a nationwide and pan-African expansion for which the company is currently raising $1 million to improve its technology and produce more envioBox (Telemetry system) offered on lease to investors signing up their vehicles for commercial lease.
According to Timothy Nunu one of the early investors in envio, aside from the funding challenges, convincing car owners who have had terrible experiences in the commercial transport vehicle leasing business could be difficult.
But, he added, with the success recorded with this innovation, the future for commercial mobility in Africa is potent.
“This is a home-grown solution to a local problem and its software is adaptable to several other markets. We have very good traction, a clear revenue model, and the problem being solved is obvious,” he explained.
Furthermore, beyond serving individual drivers and car owners, Envio sees real growth opportunities in working with transport unions such as the NURTW in Lagos, taxi aggregators, and e-hailing startups. It also intends to bring more accountability and transparency to the commercial transport space.
“We’re trying to create a standard, check fraud, bring accountability and transparency in this space. It’s not just about flooding the roads with cars. The quality of people that will drive them matters and our system checks both the drivers and everyone in the system,” Nunu concluded.