Safaricom backed online taxi hailing firm Little is seeking to raise Sh 10 billion ($100M) in funding to fuel its expansion plans across the continent and compete against Uber and other up-and-comers that are each trying to grab a piece of the growing online taxi market.
Kamal Budhabatti, CEO of Craft Silicon, (the parent company of Little) is expected to make several trips to Silicon Valley this quarter to scout for investors to participate in the series B round of funding.
“We want to see if we can get someone from the (Silicon) valley who can come help to scale up the company.” Mr Budhabhatti told Reuters last year.
So far, Craft Silicon has invested close to Sh 1 Billion ($10M) in the venture with $6 million (Sh600 million) coming from its own pockets while the rest ($4M) from a small group of CEOs who run some of Kenya’s largest companies.
“Our aim is to become the taxi-hailing firm for the continent. We are competing with some of the bigger players. If you want to win you can’t beat them on capital, you can only beat them on innovations.” he said.
Little already commenced its operations in Nigeria’s capital city of Lagos last October and is expected to do the same in Ghana in the first quarter of this year. Kamal Budhabatti says they are looking at a number of countries in Southern and Francophone Africa with a target of being in 10 countries by June this year.
Kamal says they also seek to develop financial services offering building on soaring driver and user numbers of the cab hailing platform. The 18 month old start-up aims to transform into a fintech firm with offerings such as loans, electronic money transfer in what it calls “a small bank that sits inside the Little wallet.”
In February this year, Little is also expected to launch a mobile phone-based Savings and Credit Co-operative Society (Sacco) for its drivers dubbed Little Sacco, the country’s first virtual Sacco.
Little claims it facilitates as many as 12,000 rides each day, making it the third largest ride-hailing platform in Kenya with approximately 5,000 drivers. Since its launch in July 2016, Little says it has close to 400,000 active riders.