#ZimStartup: Kombi Swipe Out To Defy Odds

The cash shortages gripping this country affecting the smooth flow of businesses has offered two local entrepreneurs a business opportunity that will see passengers swiping to pay for their Kombi fares with Kombi Swipe.

The scarcity of cash in the country has eliminated most cash-based transactions but for smaller daily transactions like paying for a Kombi ride to and from town, people are still using cash. But Kombi Swipe co-founders Josh Gara and James Kinnard have faith that they can take over the market.

By Pearson Mbendera

“This is a solution to the current cash problems in the country as passengers can simply swipe in paying their fares,” said Mr James Kinnard.

The major challenge that these entrepreneurs is that people don’t really like to incur extra costs in paying for their fares.

While some people are still buying and selling cash, this method, which is illegal to begin with means that overally, the people are paying more for goods and services in Zimbabwe as they are charged a premium to acquire cash. While this will be eliminated with the adoption of Kombi Swipe, there is still the case of bank charges that accrue with every transaction means that, effectively, passengers will be paying more for the Kombi ride to town than the 50c most Kombi operators will be asking for.

Having capitalised on a problem, the length of the cash crisis in Zimbabwe presents the duo with an opportunity or the end of their business. While the success of all businesses lie in their ability to provide solutions, Kombi Swipe may be a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

But while the cash problem has given them a business opportunity, the elimination of the cash crisis in Zimbabwe will inturn eliminate the foundation of their business.

The media shy co-founders who refused to be photographed for this article sees themselves as the meek David in a David vs Goliath fight with a market hell bent on resisting the use of plastic money for smaller transactions amid astronomical transaction charges.

Given that Steward bank has launched Kwenga, a mobile POS system that can do just the same as the Kombi Swipe, there is a a lot of competition they face against a bank owned by Econet Wireless Group, a giant company known for destroying competition.

Kombi operators have long since expressed disinterest in adopting plastic money in their business as they prefer to be paid in cash. This may force the entrepreneurs to try and lock the long distance buses first before they make a giant leap into converting local Kombi operators to accept plastic money.

“Its a compound situation that we are looking at. We are looking at long distance travel too. We may consider starting with long distance fares,” said Mr Josh Gara.

It is indeed a David vs Goliath battle that the media shy entrepreneurs have to fight and win but as it looks, they need more than their faith in Christ for their project to succeed.

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