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Local startup SmartGo Zimbabwe develops Lyft-like ride sharing service

Most of us are familiar with Lyft, the billion dollar startup that came from a mobile application that facilitates ride sharing. Others may also know that it was developed to initially support Zimride, a ride sharing service whose concept and name was inspired by Zimbabwean ride sharing practices.

This story has been recalled time and again to demonstrate the possibilities of great solutions being created for Zimbabwe and Africa out of everyday problems. That focus on local transport solutions didn’t die off with Zimride though.

A local startup called SmartGo Zimbabwe developed it’s own ride sharing service that uses an Android application with the same name. The service works in the same way as conventional ride sharing services, offering travelers a tool for facilitating and coordinating rides or lifts from transport headed in the same direction as their intended destination.


After downloading the app and registering an account, a user can then “Get a Ride” by specifying key details like the destination, date and time of departure, specified pickup point, preferred ride, the number of people and other specifics like luggage.


Once a ride is identified the user is given details that confirm the lift and give the user a SmartGo generated driver ID. Communication can be made via phone for followups. The service is offered to travelers for free with the drivers providing SmartGo with a commission which acts as the startup’s revenue.

So far the service which was launched on the 18th of December has attracted 20 frequent users and is targeting a monthly sign up of 50 users, with a lot of the attention for the app having been created among students traveling to college.

Dealing with mahwindi

According to Prosper Nyamukondiwa, the co-founder of SmartGo, the application was designed to be a simple and convenient solution for the challenges faced by Zimbabwean travelers who often turn to private transport for lifts to their intended destinations.

Another problem that he and his co-founder Juma Mkanda felt needed a solution was the heckling that travelers and drivers encounter from touts, commonly known as mahwindi that frequent transport pickup points.  Nyamukondiwa says,

Most Zimbabweans in their life have used lifts for their journeys . But in accessing lifts they face harassment from rank touts. (These guys) also offer competition to our service but they are also a problem we want to deal with.

Another value proposition from SmartGo team is the security that comes with dealing with drivers that are registered in their system and can therefore be traced. This manages the risks that travelers are exposed to when they get lifts at these pick up points.

Besides worrying about competition Nyamukondiwa says they have other challenges that lie in their own journey to startup success. SmartGo is a bootstrapped venture so there has been attempt to make the most of whatever resources are at their disposal, a situation that will become challenging as the service scales and they figure out how to handle an increase in traffic.

One other challenge that will be hard to overcome is the limited internet penetration which affects the uptake of any broadband enabled service. this has also fed into a reluctance to use the service by some travelers who see it as a new form of technology which uses broadband and is therefore a cost.

As entrepreneurs they do however want to continue to refine their service and are hoping to onboard other services such as insurance and car tracking at a later stage. and as these are the early stages of their startup, they will looking for feedback to do this.

You can download the SmartGo app on the website or by following this link to Google Play

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21 thoughts on “Local startup SmartGo Zimbabwe develops Lyft-like ride sharing service

    1. @ imi vanhu musadaro the lift system as used in Zimbabwe is one based on sharing. Smartgo is not meant for pirate taxis which are rampant on our roads.

      1. Do you seriously think someone is just gonna share THEIR car, with YOU, for FREE? Nokuti waitei? Imi vanhu musadaro…

  1. It is illegal to carry passengers for reward in a private vehicle. Just a word of warning.

  2. this would benefit a lot of people coming into zim for holidays who wont have access to a car. Great innovation!

  3. I have 3 devices and all of them not compatible. S6 Edge, S4 and Samsung Tab 4 all not working. As an Android developer, i’m trying to think why these devices are all not supported. Sort out compatibility issues and make sure the app runs on the latest API to support a large number of devices and therefore users

    1. thnx beatnyama but its working on version 4 up and l understand all your devices should be compatible some S4s are working , on note working futi anyway will find out.

  4. Great aother angle is for uus huys who work late odd hours or in isolated neighborhoods. This means i gave a safe option and can share with people i know. Have you considered that angle cz when you knock off at 2am and you dnt have a car that day ma1

    1. E , we are on all that text me on this number 0784315592 will do something for you .thank you

  5. Hi prosper – what is the URL for the FAQ – like I need to know what and how you work out the commission. Great Idea, I liked the Zimride idea when I first saw it in 2011, but it was for the USA

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