UNCDF and SafeBoda, with support from SIDA, launch e-commerce platform for home delivery amid COVID-19

  • April 29, 2020

  • Kampala, Uganda


The United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF) and SafeBoda Uganda today announced a partnership to provide an e-commerce platform that will connect market vendors to customers during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown and beyond.

Targeting an initial 800 market vendors, this e-commerce platform will connect the market vendors to households that need a range of supplies by using the preexisting reliable SafeBoda transport service.

Through such innovative partnerships, UNCDF is able to catalyze the growth of the digital economy in Uganda by empowering populations, which have been left behind, to go digital and access previously out-of-reach digital solutions that can help keep their businesses afloat, whilst ensuring that households do not run out of food supplies – particularly with the temporary ban on public transport due to the coronavirus mitigation lockdown.

Chris Lukolyo, the digital lead at UNCDF in Uganda, said: “During this COVID-19 pandemic, many small businesses have not had an opportunity to leverage digital solutions to keep their businesses afloat due to lack of access to the relevant digital products, and sometimes inadequate digital literacy. By partnering with SafeBoda, UNCDF seeks to catalyse enterprise innovation and investment that will spur small businesses and consumers to embrace digital platforms in their daily lives, which will in turn drive growth and sustainability.”

Through this partnership, UNCDF and SafeBoda will provide 800 market vendors access to the SafeBoda app, whereby they can sell their produce while creating and maintaining the livelihoods of the 18,000 SafeBoda riders whose source of income has been affected by the ban on public transport. The partnership will also look to leverage SafeBoda’s riders and user base to share vital information and safety practices about COVID-19. This will allow a projected average of 50,000 customers to be reached daily with food stuffs and goods delivery. After COVID-19, it is envisaged that customers will continue to use digital platforms after experiencing the convenience and quality service of the SafeBoda e-commerce platform, which will increase inclusion and bolster resilience for similar future shocks and stresses.

Nicholas Kamanzi, the Head of SB Shop at SafeBoda Uganda, said “Our mission is to empower local entrepreneurs to thrive at the click of a button and this partnership is exactly that. Given the COVID-19 situation, access has become an even bigger problem for many Ugandans, and we believe that we can start being part of the solution by providing a platform for food market vendors & customers to easily sell and buy their goods respectively. Of course, not forgetting the SafeBoda riders (the true heroes) doing contact free delivery from the markets to the customers as a key part of this solution.’’

As part of the partnership, UNCDF is providing technical and financial support for design, rollout and implementation of the e-commerce platform, while at the same time monitoring and learning how such e-commerce platforms can address the impacts of COVID-19 and beyond.

This work is part of UNCDF’s five-year digital strategy—"Leaving No One Behind in the Digital Era"—envisioned to promote inclusive digital economies in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida).

This reflects UNCDF’s goal of providing “last mile” finance models that unlock public and private resources, especially at the domestic level, to reduce poverty and support local economic development.

“UNCDF’s approach considers that the interactions of service providers with customers are based on a network of digital platforms, as well as an environment supported by an adequate infrastructure and regulations and policies. That is why we appreciate the Ministry of Kampala and the Kampala Capital City Authority for supporting this innovation,” said Dmitry Pozhidaev, the Head of Office, UNCDF.

Early success story

Since Uganda went on a lockdown on March 22, many small and medium businesses have lost revenue due to the reduction in customers arising out of limited movements.

Miss Ruth Tindyebwa is one of the hundreds of vendors affected. Most of her customers used to shop from her stall on their way from work. With restrictions in movements, her customers have drastically reduced. Tindyebwa is one the first market vendors that SafeBoda has signed on and trained as part of this partnership.

"My clients now order through the SafeBoda app. I feel protected because the riders wear gloves and masks. I also always wash my hands after serving each customer,” Tindyebwa says.

For the first since she started her business, her daily sales have hit the UGX500,000 mark. “The most amazing part is that I can save for my children's school fees on my e-wallet as I wait for the schools to reopen after this lockdown," Tindyebwa says.

Such stories of change and growth demonstrate that by addressing everyday challenges, we can drive the growth and sustainability of the entire digital ecosystem.

About SafeBoda

SafeBoda was founded in 2015 to bring innovation and community to the rapidly growing motorcycle taxi industry in Africa. At the click of a button SafeBoda provides a safe, convenient, mobile-first urban transportation solution for Africa’s booming young population.

Founded in Kyebando, Kampala, SafeBoda has built a community of over 18,000 branded, equipped and trained boda drivers.

In addition to taking a ride, customers can now order food from their favourite restaurants and also shop for their daily needs using the SafeBoda app. The app provides seamless access to customers to over 300 merchants and also connects them to a trained, professional rider who delivers to their door.

SafeBoda also has a wallet function, allowing customers to enjoy a cash-free and stress-free experience in the app by topping up using Mobile Money. Our vision is to empower local communities to thrive facilitated through safe urban transportation to millions of Africans thus improving livelihoods and mobility across the continent.