Hava experience: New Kenyan taxi hailing app

Hava was developed by Mohammed Nur, a former NASA engineer. [Courtesy]

The crave for a convenient commuter experience has pushed a lot of Kenyans, and Nairobi residents specifically, to be extremely choosy.

They want travel plans that counter the chaotic experience that is Nairobi's transport system-from rogue matatus to messy traffic jams.

Hava taxi hailing application is among the few locally developed taxi hailing apps battling it out against global giants like Uber and Bolt which dominate the Kenyan market.

The app was developed by Mohammed Nur, a former National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) engineer.

Initially based in the United States before shifting base to Kenya, Nur developed the app with the hope of offering alternative solutions to drivers and riders.

Today, the app has over 20,000 active drivers and has done more than 60,000 trips since inception last year.

Launching during a pandemic meant a lot of challenges, not just for Hava but for any business.

But Hava was helped by the government's move to impose a dusk-to-dawn curfew that lasted for more than a year as part of containment measures to curtail the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.

"Coupled with that, the need for more personalised travel to avoid as much contact in the public transport, gave rise to the orders we experienced in the year," said Nur.

"So for those who wouldn’t afford cars, they opted for taxis. Hava being a home grown solution they found it more convenient."

He explained that the business model fits the corporate needs of their target market, and that was another avenue of making revenue.

So what is Hava’s competitive advantage? Every trip is insured.

"We have partnered with an insurance company (name withheld because of non-disclosure agreement) to insure all our trips.

As a client, in case you lose your belongings while on a Hava ride you will be compensated,” Mohammed explained.

The engineer reckons that their biggest challenge is to stand out among the many taxi hailing applications in the Kenyan market.

He agrees that they are operating in a crowded space that is likely to grow faster than the clientele. That is why business innovation is key for survival, says Nur.

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