Over the past few years, many women in Pakistan have started working outside of their homes to support their families and to improve the socio-economic condition of the country. While getting to their workplaces, most of them travel via local transport. I am here particularly talking about the middle class or lower-middle-class women who have limited resources to navigate in the city.
Local transport is meant to facilitate these people, but it has many drawbacks as well. Women feel unsafe on public transport and the conditions of local transport is very dismal in Pakistan. To address such issues enters Roshni Rides, a startup led by 4 team members; Gia Farooqi, CEO, Hasan Usmani, COO, Hanaa Lakhani, CMO and Moneeb Mian, CFO aims to provide safe, affordable and reliable transportation to women.
Though there are many opportunities for women like Careem, Uber, SheKab and other ride-hailing services, what attracted my attention to this startup was the fact that it was focussing on women only and had been in operations outside of Pakistan.
In conservation with TechJuice, Moneeb Mian, CFO of Roshni Rides shared the entrepreneurial journey of with great passion.
Idea incubation/History of Roshni Rides
Team Roshni Rides always wanted to do something great for marginalized women in Pakistan and refugees in South Asia. They took a lot of time to figure out the obstacles working women are facing in our society and what possibly their team could do to help them overcome. Then they came up with an idea of ride-hailing service that would specifically address the needs of women in the low socio-economic class. Fueled by a passion for making lives of refugees better and to provide safe transport to women, the team embarked on accelerator program contest at Hult’s International Business School and won the $1 million Hult Prize for social entrepreneurship on September 16, 2017.
Moneeb further shared that their startup Roshni Rides has successfully gone through two testing phases and now the services will be officially launched in Karachi on August 14, 2018. Talking about the company’s vision, he said that they plan to extend the service in other cities as well in the future and by 2022, they are planning to reach all the refugees of South Asia.
How Roshni Rides evolved
The startup first decided to start off with Auto-Rikshaws but after taking into view the bigger audience that needs ride-hailing services in Pakistan, they launched multiple ride-sharing services like Suzuki Bolan and other Pick-up vehicles that carry multiple passengers at once. Moneeb mentioned that they are collaborating with different business sectors in Karachi to provide their women employees Roshni Rides services. Specific pick-up points are also set up at different geographical locations in Karachi. Moneeb further shared that Roshni Rides will operate in different areas of Karachi depending on the population density of that area. However, the app is still in the working phase and will be available on Google Play Store in next 2-3 months.
After winning $1 million Hult Prize, the startup is in the seed funding stage and by January 2019, they are hoping to enter A stage. Moneeb told that different investors are approaching them for investing in Roshni Rides but they have already sufficient funding.
When asked about how Roshni Rides would compete with other ride-hailing services in Pakistan, Moneeb told their model is particularly designed for middle and lower class strata and will be an economical service carrying multiple passengers at once. The service is based on the value system for women that makes Roshni Rides different from others. Moreover, the cheap fare rates will give a huge benefit to the service as compared to other services who targets the elite class.