By Alex Gahima
Uganda’s first online ticketing company UgaBus has been acquired by a Toronto- based shared Mobility Company, Treepz.
In a bid to digitize the Public transportation System and provide safer, reliable and comfortable commute options across Africa, Treepz which already has its presence in Nigeria and Ghana will further bolster its presence in Africa after acquiring UgaBus in Uganda, come December 1st 2021.
The announcement of UgaBus honorable exit, which happened earlier this week made headlines across the continent, putting Uganda and the rest of East Africa in the spotlight. This time for the right reasons.
Speaking on the acquisition deal, CEO and Co- founder of Treepz Onyeka Akumah said everyone at Treepz is excited to welcome the team at UgaBus to the Treepz family.
Akumah said East Africa is an exciting target for Treepz adding that working with Ronald Hakiza in Uganda as the new Country Manager will be a great opportunity to build the largest shared mobility platform in Sub- Saharan Africa.
Treepz is one of Africa’s largest Shared Mobility platform that offers Commuters convenience, safety and comfort through daily rides and road ticketing services,
Its Operations are in Nigeria, Ghana and now Uganda.
UgaBus Journey ends in $1.5 Million Honorable Exit
C.E.O and Co-founder of UgaBus Ronald Hakiza says, an acquisition is one of the biggest moments for any entrepreneur because it means someone with more resources and capabilities to do the same thing your doing has taken notice of your efforts and is interested in pushing the dream further.
The journey of UgaBus has been an exciting one filled with Ups and Downs, however Hakiza says his only regret was he did not start pursuing his dreams much sooner.
Hakiza’s journey as an entrepreneur began after encountering a problem that persisted like a thorn in his side, not until he found a solution.
He says, his nasty experience at the bus park made him wonder how many others had gone through same ordeal.
“I was urgently trying to get home to Cyanika in Kisoro for burial after losing a very close relative. I got to the bus park and found I was too late to get a ticket, Narrates Hakiza.
He says he was conned at the bus station by a middleman who took advantage of his desperation and sold to him a fake bus ticket.
Hakiza says close to 2.5 million people use buses in Uganda every month however 3 in 10 people will miss a bus while 2 in 10 people will not find the bus of their choice to travel with.
Hakiza says after thinking long and hard, he opted to become a broker of sorts in order to help commuters conveniently access bus tickets without falling into the trap of being conned.
“Within the first month of being a broker of tickets, I managed to reach out to friends using Facebook and I managed to sell 600 tickets to different people who found my service trustworthy and reliable, Hakiza narrates.
The new found success in the bus ticketing services saw Hakiza and a few other colleagues set up UgaBus Website in September 2016 which fared well.
In 2017, Uganda experienced a major technological shift with more companies and consumers depending on mobile applications (apps) for products and services including Uber and Jumia among others.
“I had an opportunity to travel to Silicon Valley in California where it dawned on me that Start Ups was the future of business and so it became clear for me that I needed to start UgaBus Mobile app, Hakiza points out
Hakiza’s meteoric rise in the world of Entrepreneurship saw his team win some seed capital from the United States Africa Development Fund allowing him to push the product further.
Not long, UgaBus is recognized among the top 1000 entrepreneurs in Africa.
In 2018, Hakiza won the Africa entrepreneurship Award in Morocco.
“I remember in 2018 to December 2019, we had over 100,000 people book a bus using the UgaBus app, this for me was so fundamental and I knew then, the product was relevant, Hakiza explains.
He notes that the bookings on the App were majorly people traveling outside Uganda including Rwanda- Kigali, Nairobi, Dar-es-salaam, Juba, Harare and South Africa.
“I will always be grateful to the people of Kisoro because they offered the first initial people booking on our App. Interestingly we had at least 20 to 30 people booking Trinity or Jaguar Bus weekly, Hakiza said
Hakiza says Covid 19 was a huge blow to the UgaBus app because transport had been stopped.
He notes that after being approached by the Toronto Based Company, UgaBus found a new lease of life.
“Come December 1st 2021, I will become the new country manager of Treepz Uganda. Users of the UgaBus app will continue to enjoy the same old services and so much more but not as UgaBus but as Treepz, Hakiza says.
Booker Washington, Hakiza Ronald’s Head teacher at Kisoro Vision Secondary School says Hakiza’s success cannot be bound by time or geographic location.
Booker says Hakiza’s versatility could be seen in his A’ Levels when he decided to change from a science Course to an Arts Course with barely one year to go.
“He was referred to as Professor while at school because he was extremely focused and passionate about everything he did, we are so proud of him, Booker said.
Producer of Straight Talk program on Voice of Muhabura Gitaho Muhumuza says, for the three years Hakiza handled the program, the audience listenership increased because he spoke with such verve.
“He never missed a show and always tried to make it as interesting as possible, the Sky is the limit for Hakiza, we wish him all the best”, Muhumuza said
Tips on Succeeding as an Entrepreneur:
- Start: If you have a dream, just start, do not overthink things. The process gets better along the way.
- Find something you are passionate about and look to solve a problem and not focusing on Money, it comes on its own.
- Trust the time and the process: Some get acquired within 5 years, others after 20 years, however every entrepreneur has his own journey.