A help­ing hand for taxi com­muters

Skhona Khu­malo cre­ated an App to im­prove the taxi ex­pe­ri­ence for com­muters

Move! - - CONTENTS - By Boi­tumelo Mat­shaba

THE in­no­va­tive 28-year old Skhona Khu­malo has cre­ated an App that will help taxi users lo­cate their near­est taxi rank, amongst other fea­tures. The Kh­wela App will of­fi­cially be launched next month and has cre­ated a lot of pos­i­tive con­ver­sa­tions and in­ter­est among com­muters.

WHAT IN­SPIRED THE APP

Skhona says the idea of the App was trig­gered by be­ing part of the taxi sys­tem as a com­muter. Ac­cord­ing to Skhona, first-hand ex­pe­ri­ence is the best teacher.

“There needs to be a way to en­gage with taxi driv­ers and the ex­pe­ri­ence it­self. Taxis have taken many peo­ple from pri­mary school to high school, from high school to var­sity and to our first jobs. It is a very im­por­tant part of many South Africans' lives who are striv­ing for a bet­ter life,” he says.

“My mo­ti­va­tion was want­ing to see some­thing dif­fer­ent in the taxi sys­tem. I be­lieve the fewer the queues in ranks, the more ef­fi­cient the ser­vice can be.”

HOW THE APP WORKS

The first thing com­muters need to know is that down­load­ing the App is free.

“The App will show you where you are and the three near­est taxi ranks near you and the dis­tances. Once you select the rank you would like to travel to, it will show you a re­cent im­age of the taxi rank and an itin­er­ary, which in­cludes the open­ing and clos­ing times of the taxi rank and the man­ager on duty,” says Skhona.

“Com­muters can also view the dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tions that are avail­able at the rank, the main routes the taxis use and the taxi fares for the dif­fer­ent des­ti­na­tions.” He adds that the Khelwa App also has a dis­cus­sion fo­rum where users can en­gage each other. For ex­am­ple, com­muters can let oth­ers know about taxi strikes or if there are de­lays in cer­tain ar­eas or queues at the rank.

“Users can also raise is­sues of abuse or vi­o­lence and any­thing else that af­fects them. We feed the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion to the Na­tional Taxi Al­liance, who have the de­sire to get to the hearts of the com­muters,” he says.

Be­cause the com­muter has knowl­edge of what is go­ing on, they can run er­rands prior to go­ing to the rank, make al­ter­na­tive means to get to their des­ti­na­tion and gen­er­ally plan their trips bet­ter.

“The App also gives pe­ri­od­i­cal no­ti­fi­ca­tions of

MOVE FOR­WARD WITH EASE KNOW­ING WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE

what is go­ing on around the com­muter, es­pe­cially around main roads,” he says.

The taxi in­dus­try is cur­rently marred with too many chal­lenges, but Skhona says he be­lieves we will be hear­ing good news in six months’ time, thanks to the App.

“At the mo­ment, if you search for any in­for­ma­tion about taxis, there is noth­ing pos­i­tive,” says Skhona.

PUR­SU­ING HIS DREAM

Like with the start of any busi­ness, Skhona had dif­fi­cul­ties when he first started off.

“I was pre­vi­ously em­ployed by a pri­vate bank and was used to a sta­ble salary. It takes time to ad­just to not hav­ing a full-time job. The path to re­al­is­ing your dreams can get lonely and comes with a lot of changes. You may even have night­mares or thoughts of fail­ure,” says Skhona.

He started his busi­ness in 2015 and says it is hard not to re­ceive a salary for three years. Some of the peo­ple who were help­ing Skhona in the early stages soon left af­ter get­ting bet­ter jobs and this af­fected the busi­ness neg­a­tively.

“Some­times your fam­ily does not un­der­stand your de­ci­sion un­til they see your vi­sion play­ing out. Dur­ing this pe­riod, you can de­velop a re­sent­ful heart or grace­ful heart. Peo­ple are peo­ple, they fear what they don’t know. Ac­cept this and move for­ward with ease know­ing what you want to achieve,” says Skhona.

THE CHAL­LENGES

One of the ques­tions he got when he started the App was why reg­u­lar taxi users, who know their taxi ranks, would want to use the App. Skhona says com­muters, like car own­ers, do not just go to work and back; they travel to in­ter­views, visit friends and fam­i­lies and at­tend so­cial events, some­times in ar­eas they are not fa­mil­iar with.

An­other chal­lenge Skhona faced was an­swer­ing what else the App could do.

Skhona says that there is a lot that they want to in­cor­po­rate in the App, but they will do so in due course.

“We’re not try­ing to add ev­ery­thing to the App im­me­di­ately. Some­times peo­ple do not use an App not be­cause it’s not good, but it’s too much to adapt to. The plan is to keep Kh­wela sim­ple,” he says.

TAR­GET MAR­KET

Any­one who uses taxis is go­ing to be a tar­get for Kh­wela.

“We went to the Bree Taxi Rank in Joburg dur­ing the bus strike to show com­muters how the App works and how it could ben­e­fit them. Over 15 000 peo­ple showed in­ter­est in the app and down­loaded it. Khelwa also fo­cuses on youth em­ploy­ment,” he says.

“We are also in talks with the Haram­bee Youth Em­ploy­ment Ac­cel­er­a­tor to em­ploy un­em­ployed young peo­ple as am­bas­sadors for the App at ranks,” he says.

PROFITS IN THE BUSI­NESS

Skhona shares how his busi­ness will make money when the App of­fi­cially launches in July.

“Our busi­ness model fo­cuses on prod­uct place­ments for third party ven­dors and run­ning very spe­cific ad­ver­tise­ments for com­muters. So for ex­am­ple you will not see a car ad­ver­tise­ment on the App, be­cause the App is very life­style-based. We just want to fo­cus on the things the com­muters want and im­pact their lives on a daily ba­sis. By so do­ing we are mak­ing it eas­ier on the com­muter to ac­cess those things,” he says.

Skhona Khu­malo's Kh­wela App, which will be launched in July, aims to sim­plify trav­el­ling by taxi

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