This month’s Entrepreneurs’ Hotspot focuses on two successful businesses that have received assistance from the Entrepreneurs’ Network (EN), a project of the Cape SAJBD, ORT Jet Cape Town, EO and Over the Rainbow. SAJBD Cape Board member Dawn Nathan-Jones initiated the establishment of the organisation in 2022, and it is already seeing many successes. (Read the second story here.)
According to Dawn, “EN enables us to carry out the Board’s motto: Educate, Engage, Empower. Our work is geared to build a better country through improving the opportunities for entrepreneurs to survive and thrive. We seek to connect our Jewish identity to activities that have a positive impact on local communities.”
One such project that will most certainly have a tremendously positive impact on local communities is Jamie Thurston Wyngaard’s business called Loop. Jamie explains that, “Looptaxi is a way of bringing tech to the taxi industry in South Africa. The goal is to improve the quality of a taxi ride, improve safety and to make payments for rides better for both the passenger and the driver.”
As we all know, the taxi industry has been fraught with problems, yet it is fundamental to the transport system in our country. 80% of South Africans use taxis for all their transport needs. So, any initiative to solve the issues that the industry faces must be welcomed.
A serial entrepreneur – despite being just 32 years old – Jamie was approached by a veteran of the taxi industry in Cape Town, Imtiyaaz Riley, and Jason Bruce-Brand to solve issues in the mobility industry. Together they established the business just over a year ago.
In essence, as an alternative to paying for a taxi ride in cash, the system allows a passenger to pay via WhatsApp. “We know
that it’s an app that’s widely used so we decided to use the existing technology out there and just added a payment system that we developed ourselves. It means that the taxi customer base doesn’t need to download other apps.”
Removing cash from the system works well for both the drivers and the passengers: passengers can avoid long queues at ATMs, and both parties are less vulnerable to theft. In addition, an ATM usually spews out a R100- or R200-note but the ride may cost R20, and so there is a real risk that the passenger spends the change on other, less necessary things. As Jamie explains, “The passenger can put R100 onto the system for rides immediately and for the rest of the week, and that way they won’t be able to spend their transport funds on anything else. So, the system essentially assists the passenger to budget – something that is really important in our market since many people earn only enough for the basics of life.”
A further element of the tech that has been developed is the use of WhatsApp to book a taxi – a ride that allows a person to be fetched at their door and taken to their destination. It saves time and is far more efficient. Similar to taking an Uber, the advantage is that a taxi fare is within reach of the taxi market, whereas the Uber charge is too expensive.
Jamie joined the Entrepreneurs’ Network, and has benefited a great deal. “Through learning from other entrepreneurs at EN, I have become a better business leader. I’ve learned so much about how to manage a team, and how to interact with all parties, so that
we can find solutions that meet the requirements of the taxi industry, the taxi driver, the passenger and the employer.”