NileBoda: Mayang Tut, brain behind online motorcycle App

NileBoda: Mayang Tut, brain behind online motorcycle App

At the NileBoda offices off Hai Kuwait, Suk Libya Road, in Juba, Mayang Tut stands taller than anyone in the room. Dressed in a silky crisp long-sleeved white shirt, a fitting a navy-blue pair of trouser and brown shoes, the afro hair cut does very little to conceal his youthfulness.

Here, Mayang, 24, leads a team of 20 employees.

“I was born in Nasir in Upper Nile State. I am the first born in a family of seven – six boys and one girl who is my immediate follower,” he says when we sit down for the interview.

But today, he is the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of NileBoda, ‘a transportation company that focuses on conveying a passenger between locations of their choices on a motorbike.

To book one of his Boda, you have to embrace technology.

Last March, NileBoda won the Digital Innovations for Business Resilience in the East African Community. But for Mayang, a former bodaboda rider, the journey to the top summit of success, that was recognised at the University of Juba two months ago – is a long one, probably longer than the famous Nile River.

“Though I was born in South Sudan, I never studied here. Because of the prevailing political situation at the time, my parents thought that a more stable political environment would be good for me, and that is how I ended up in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, where I enrolled in primary and studied all the way to the university. I am a holder of Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resource Management from Good Vibe University in Addis Ababa,” says Mayang.

After completing the education cycle – from kindergarten all the way to the university, he hoped, like millions of students who graduate every year across the world, that he would land a job in one of the corporate organisations.

“Armed with my degree, I went out job hunting. After making several applications to various institutions here in South Sudan, I decided that I would go for what was available, and that is how I started riding motorcycle taxi, or bodaboda. I plied various routes in Gudele and Gumbo areas where roads were very bad and the motorcycles were helping locals a great deal,” he says.

At that time he was riding someone’s bodaboda, which means he had to pay the owner of the motorbike some amount of money at the end of the week or month depending on their agreement. But he was not alone, there were hundreds of others who were doing the same.

“I had this idea of changing the way the business of bodaboda is done, given how big this market is. I thought with the use of technology, it would be easier to link service providers with those seeking the same services, while at the same time being able to keep track of the whereabouts of the rider and their bikes,” says Mayan.

He started bodaboda operation in 2018, and after a few months he had conviction that this business could be done differently. His three other partners, in an interesting twist of fate, were his fellow riders that he shared the same dream with.

“We started fundraising towards this shared goal. And with limited numbers we continued with the business of transporting people and good from one point to another within Juba. It is until 2020 that we managed to officially register the company. We set up somewhere in Gudele, before we moved to another office because of rent issues, and now we are glad to be here,” he said.

The company projects the transport industry South Sudan alone to be made up of about 7,000 establishments with about SSP 1 billion in combined annual revenue.

Major services in the transport industry strictly includes moving of passengers in personal vehicles; matatus and personal bodas. The major fund of industry comes from local passenger transportation services.

They are known to move individuals after being dispatched per customer request, but they most times also pick customers that hail them down while driving on city streets or stages.

NileBoda right now has three departments, all within the same building. There is the mobile app which can be downloaded from Google Play Store, which has a total of 5,838 drivers currently, according to information available on their website.

“On the app, we have 500 registered bikes. Here, the riders come with their motorbikes, we assess the roadworthiness, after which we register them. For any transaction done via the app, the company takes 15 per cent,” says Mayan.

But over time, the company has trained its eyes further and introduced two other departments: asset financing and asset investment. In asset financing, they make it possible for riders to own bikes by paying a deposit, after which they will be paying the remaining balance in daily, weekly or monthly instalments.

“The reason why we thought about this is because majority of those riding bodaboda do not own the bikes. This is not something strange because we also started there with my partners. We would pay some amount of money either daily or weekly to the bike owners, and therefore in this new approach, the riders pay us the instalments as they move towards owning the bike altogether,” says Mayan on asset financing.

He says the market has been very receptive. Right now they have 3,500 on the waiting list, which is way beyond what their finances and partners can support in this kind of venture.

Riders the targets

Ordinarily, riders who do not own their motorcycles pay between SSP15,000 to SSP18,000 per week. But NileBoda charges way less than this.

“Our aim is to ensure that while they are supposed to own the assets in the long run, we give them a target that can allow them to provide for their families and pay the requisite bills,” he notes.

And to ensure that there is seamless operations, NileBoda has established an academy, where these riders are trained and follow up made so that they are given licenses.

The third department is asset investment, where those who are already engaged in other businesses or are employed but wishes to venture into transport business can buy their motorbikes, bring it to NileBoda, and it will be upon NileBoda to assign a driver, and work out commissions that it will share with the motorbike owner, and what the rider will be taking home.

He says the reason why people are embracing asset investment is because of runaway theft of motorcycles. At NileBoda, they attach a tracking device to their motorbikes and they can monitor their location and even tell whether the machine is stationary or moving and at what speed. The tracking device also enables NileBoda to switch off the engine from the comfort of the office.

“From the estimates available, at least 45 motorbikes are stolen every week here in Juba alone, while 2-3 riders are killed per week during robberies.

“That is why we introduced Togree car tracking app which we install on motorbikes and cars as well. Over the last six months we have recovered 270 motorbikes that had been stolen. When we face such a scenario all we do is locate the motorbike, then leave the rest to the owner and police,” says Mayan.

He says the market for bodaboda business is there. It is estimated that bodaboda operators in South Sudan transact 500 million USD in a single day, making it a multi-billion industry that all it needs is coordination by use of technology.

He says banks have also shown interest in their business, and therefore instead of hiring a bus to be taking their staff to work and back, they instead engage NileBoda, who transport their staff tow rok in the morning, and back home in the evening.

NileBoda and GoGo Play – a South Sudanese subscription-based video-on-demand service offering a variety of content like music, series, drama, comedy, ticketing, and events – will represent the South Sudan team on 24 May in Kigali, Rwanda where they will present their pitches together with other winners from the six East African Community states. The winners will get a grant of $10,000.