Avid Techzim readers will know about Tuverl already. Last year, the Bulawayo-based startup participated in and won the World Bank’s Youth Summit which focused on smart city solutions.
Tuverl is a ride-sharing transport company whose main goal is to make public transport in Zim more efficient than it currently is. When Tuverl pitched at the World Bank Youth Summit last year the main problem they were looking to address was the issue of scheduling. Kombis have never adhered to any schedule which means using them has always been a coin toss when it comes to timekeeping.
Inversely, the lack of a schedule means that drivers also have to manually look for passengers. Inefficiency on both sides – which is what Tuverl wants to solve.
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Tuverl is an app that seeks to make Public Transport, cheaper, reliable and more accessible to millions of commuters across African countries, by helping Operators reduce operational inefficiencies, optimize their routes and increase their revenue.Tuverl pitch notes from 2019
Their ride-sharing application allows users to schedule trips and at the moment users can only search for intercity and town carpooling trips(e.g Harare to Bulawayo, Chiredzi to Mutare etc). At the moment Carpooling is the only option available but Tuverl plans to expand the service to minibuses and buses – we’ll touch on this in a bit.
Business model concerns
The biggest problem Tuverl will have to solve for themselves is getting as many transport service providers to sign up for the service. The more drivers are onboard the more trips can be taken and the more Tuverl gets a cut of the final fees.
COVID-19 changed the landscape Tuverl is entering into pretty drastically. Tuverl’s pitch is something I keep referring to because it allows us to see how the startup views itself. A central part of their pitch was solving the problems in public transportation which they noted is “run by private companies”.
Since then a lot has changed – private transport mini-buses were outlawed. In fact, just 3 weeks ago, the government announced that all commuter omnibus operators should sign up with Zimbabwe United Passenger Company (ZUPCO).
I asked Tuverl’s Founder Hope Ndhlovu if this changes anything for them. He explained that the company pivoted because of COVID-19 and at the moment they are only focusing on intercity carpooling. Hope also explained that they will revert back to their older model which includes minibuses and busses in due course.