Sada born innovator boosts taxi industry
By Khuthala Nandipha
Mziwoxolo ‘Meshi’ Qwelane has created a software application that will literally change the lives of commuters and bring dignity to the South African taxi industry.
His company iTaxi, in partnership with the South African National Taxi Council (SANTACO), has launched its new MiTaxi app, which aims to improve the user experience of the South African taxi network.
The platform is considered a first of its kind in South Africa to be launched by corporate, and supported by industry.
The app went live on February 6 in Gauteng and is designed to close the communication gap between the taxi industry and its more than 15 million commuters.
The app features GPS settings that will notify users when they have arrived at their destination, taxi fares, price changes, 24 hour notice on planned taxi industry strikes, information on where to catch a taxi to where, and encourages users to report good and bad driving.
“Taxi drivers have welcomed the move provided commuters do not use it to make malicious complaints further hurting their business. Commuters also welcomed the app as it will help them navigate the complex minibus network and also enable them to complain or compliment in real time,” said Qwelane.
The app will be made available on android only and in its current form, pilots as a mobi site.
“The app will be available nationally by the end of 2021. Eastern Cape is part of the rollout plan and we will start with Buffalo City followed by Port Elizabeth then small towns will be integrated. Obviously, I cannot wait for my hometown Sada to be part of this,” he enthused.
The app will help create an opportunity for the taxi industry to engage with its passengers through the ‘Message by The President’ feature that will incorporate monthly messages from SANTACO President Philip Taaibosch.
Like any businessman, Qwelane is re-building his company following a rough patch coupled by a series of bad decisions that led to the demise of his previous projects.
“Many believe growth is good but it poses threats to the same business if not being properly managed. Also, political risk is a real threat for small businesses, so it was a combination of fast growth and political risk. We also tend to over invest in our personal lives than in our businesses, so now I have adopted the “it’s the businesses’ money, not mine” mindset.
Having done his high school in Phandulwazi Agricultural High School in Alice, Qwelane said it is in that environment that, aged 17, he decided that his future will solely rely on his hands.
“I am a tech entrepreneur with over 16 years in advertising sales. I am also a bureaucratic misfit.” The app is free to download and accessible across all mobile devices with IOS and Android.