So there has been a narrative that comes up time and time again; Econet is a brutal company and they steal ideas from budding entrepreneurs and startups! Cumii (an Econet subsidiary) recently launched their Vaya Africa ride-hailing app and Hwindi has surfaced kinda suggesting that they were copied. So what’s the issue here?
A bit of background…
A few weeks ago we managed to get access to Cumii’s Vaya Africa application and we wrote a preview of the application. After publishing this preview an interesting thing happened, Hwindi came out and voiced their issues with the appearance of the Vaya Africa website. Hwindi reached out to me directly and explained this and after taking a look I was also taken aback and I was quite surprised. The websites did indeed have some similarities and we were wondering what the issue was.
We then got in touch with Cumii who explained that they had gotten this uber-like platform from the same Indian company who Hwindi also got their platform from. The platform is basically a white label – a product made by one company that other companies can rebrand to make it appear as if they had made it themselves. So both Cumii and Hwindi got this platform from one provider and when I asked Hwindi if this was the case they agreed. Hwindi still felt hard done by the fact that Cumii didn’t make changes compared to their first product which was the first to hit the market.
I think therein lies the problem with this whole situation. Vaya Africa hadn’t been launched and Cumii were still performing internal testing with the application. If it wasn’t for the fact that Techzim stumbled upon this app and wrote about it there wouldn’t have been an issue at all as there would have been no public interaction with the app until Wednesday night and what launched on Wednesday night doesn’t really look like what Hwindi launched.
Get people talking
I think this is also why Hwindi has been very careful in all their communications thus far not to outrightly say that Cumii stole their intellectual property. Hwindi’s communication was very suggestive and played into an existing narrative that Econet steals ideas from the small guy and I’m sure they knew they would get some traction from it. If you didn’t know about Hwindi, now you do and that’s good for their brand especially if that also comes with the added sympathy of being the guy who was robbed. I’m not so sure if that really is the case and it seems Hwindi won’t commit on saying whether or not their intellectual property was copied.
Those are the facts. I’m not entirely sure if there is an issue here but if your opinion differs from mine the comments section are always open and it will be great for us to continue this discussion there.