Ethiopia: Lady Disruptor

Video screenshot of Samrawit Fikru, founder and CEO of Hybrid Designs, the company behind the internet and phone-based ride-hailing service RIDE.

Samrawit Fikru , founder and CEO of Hybrid Designs, the company behind the internet and phone-based ride-hailing service RIDE that is disrupting the traditional taxi business in Addis Abeba, was one of the marquee entrepreneurs highlighted at the ICT Expo.

A computer programmer, Samrawit, like most entrepreneurs, says she saw a gap in the market and used technology to fill it. However, the disruptive technology she introduced has made her a polarising figure. Users say they like the service for its convenience, affordability and safety. But others, mostly traditional taxi operators, say it is threatening their livelihood.

While some of the bureaucrats are uncertain how to handle this new business model, others see the twenty-nine-year-old innovator as the kind of job-creating entrepreneur that should be championed. RIDE has garnered over 50,000 downloads of their application on Google Play Store alone. "There are twelve taxi associations and over a thousand cars working with us," Samrawit told Fortune.

Other competitors like Zayride and Polotrip have also started similar services offering choices to consumers. Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen (centre), the guest of honor was with Jemal Beker , state minister of Innovation & Technology, whose Ministry organised the expo that ran from June 6-10, 2019, at the Millennium Hall where they announced an inaugural 'Startup Ethiopia' national competition in collaboration with BlueMoon, a private incubator founded by Eleni Gabre-Madhin (PhD).

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