By Ajong Mbapndah L
Basking in the glow of a top 20 selection in the ongoing African Business Heroes Prize Competition, Daniel Mukisa says there is reason to view the future with optimism especially with the uniqueness of the services provided by RideLink. Mukisa, who is a co-founder and CEO says winning the ABH prize will go a long way to propel Ridelink into the right direction with major ramifications on growth , innovation , research ,development, and market gain.
Fueled by a desire to come with a solution that would curb high transportation costs wreaking havoc on small businesses, Daniel Mukisa and his team came up with Ridelink an e -logistics platform connecting SMEs to mobility of their goods from point of production to point of sale.
Despite a slowed down growth because of Covid 19 in 2020, Daniel Mukisa tells PAV that the platform has continued to show great potential with some 275 customers who have seen their transport costs reduce by 30%.
Dan Mukisa, Co-founder, and CEO of RideLink, can you introduce your company to us?
Dan Mukisa: Ridelink is an e-logistics platform connecting SMEs to mobility of their goods from the point of production to the point of sale. It connects a pool of drivers/ trucks to the SMEs in an efficient, user friendly and real time manner.
What motivated the creation of Ridelink, where was the void you sought to fill with its creation?
Dan Mukisa: Ridelink was created out of the need to address themismatch between the transporter and the producer. Growing up in rural Eastern Uganda, my mother operated an agricultural produce store where we all participated and contributed towards its daily running. I noticed that a lot of the proceeds from the store went towards transporting the produce from the farmer to us the retailers. I challenged myself to come up with a solution that would curb the high transport costs that ate deep into the bottom-line of the small businesses.
Since its creation, what has been the response of the public toward the services Ridelink offers?
Dan Mukisa: For the first six months of our starting, we never had any revenue client, we serviced 8 clients who were all none paying customers, the next six months were pivotal in the survival of Ride link we registered a total of 38 clients by end of the first year. 117 by the end of the second year. A slowed down growth in the Covid year 2020 and currently we stand at 275 happy customers whose transport cost we have reduced by an average 30% less than before. To date, we have moved 1.3 million tons of cargo.
What are some of the challenges Ridelink has faced since its creation?
Dan Mukisa : When we first started, all we had were human resources that understood the problem at hand and designed a technological tool to counter the problem. We gave of our time resources online surveys to be able to meet the market needs with our innovations.
As mentioned above we had no paying client for the first 6 months of our operation but didn’t give up and carried until servicing none paying clients until we picked up.
Our major problem was limited capital: availability of venture capital isn’t in abundancy, and however much we want to innovate further and move with the rhythm of our clients, inadequate capital is a huge challenge.
How did you receive the news of ABH top 20 selection?
Dan Mukisa: It was a mixture of exhilaration and astonishment. The team was wild with excitement and then more than before had absolute resolute to go to the end.
We noticed that you have won some other top prizes before, what is the extra motivation you have, to be among the top laureates of the ABH awards?
Dan Mukisa: We have a culture/ an unwritten code of doing whatever we have to do to the best of our knowledge and going through to the top 20 was a huge positive step in the right direction. The motivation is further derived from the desire for growth, it goes without saying that winning the ABH prize will go a long way to propel us into the right direction growth wise, innovation wise, research and development and market gain.
Being in the top 20 moves you closer to the top prizes, what kind of changes should people expect at RideLink should you eventually make it?
Dan Mukisa: We plan to improve our technology and make it even more user-friendly and scalable. We shall be hiring more talent to speed up our growth. And we shall increase our customer acquisition efforts as we understand many small businesses still suffer from high transport costs and they have not yet found a solution to the challenge.
How confident are you in the face of the stiff competition from the super brilliant contestants left?
Dan Mukisa: Uniqueness of our product: For the first time in the history of the SMEs-such as YELI PAPER BAGS LTD, they have a tailor- made solution to their problem of not being able to play on an even ground with the big players on the market which creates transport economies for the user. The system is user friendly and not expensive to the user and creates opportunity for visibility and traceability of how when and where their cargo has progressed. A transport solution implemented on the client’s desk as the system can easily be loaded onto any e-commerce site, CRM, and inventory system of a small business.
What role do you think initiatives like the ABH awards can do to create the next generation of entrepreneurs in Africa?
Dan Mukisa: Many entrepreneurs require training in several areas including finance, people management and business strategy. Organizations like ABH go a long way in helping entrepreneurs achieve this. More than anything else, startups in Africa are still under funded compared to their counterparts in other parts of the world. I believe ABH can not only provide funding to budding entrepreneurs but also through its network of partners and investors can create a channel to attract money for these startups.
We noticed that there are three finalists in the ABH Top 20 selection from Uganda. How are young entrepreneurs faring in Uganda and anything the government is doing to create the right conditions for you and others to excel?
Dan Mukisa : Well, currently the Government of Uganda under Ministry of Information and Communications Technology have embarked on a mission to build several innovation centers across the country. These state-of-the-art centers are meant to accommodate up to 100 startups per hub and bring government services closer to startups. This and other initiatives including Cash Prize competitions have been established by government to recognize, support, and celebrate startups in the country.