An African Entrepreneur Builds the “Uber of Ethiopia”

Public transit and taxi services in Ethiopia were not sufficient to meet the high demand for transportation from the population. African entrepreneur and Ethiopian Habtamu Tadesse decided to use his experience and expertise from when he studied in the United States to create a solution. Inspired by Uber, Tadesse launched ZayRide as a way to digitize and revolutionize the taxi industry in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

“If you believe in yourself, if you believe in your idea, just go for it. Don’t hesitate.”

Technology Meets Transportation

THE CHALLENGE. In Ethiopia, only 4% of the people have their own cars and the government imposes high car import duties and related car ownership taxes. 96% of Ethiopians rely on public transport and taxi services, which came with their own host of challenges, such as fare rates that were not set and waiting areas that were not safe. People would often get robbed while waiting for taxis or public transit, and the situation was particularly unsafe for women who were more at risk for being attacked. African entrepreneur Habtamu Tadesse experienced the challenges of this system himself when he would often wait in line for hours for a taxi.

THE PROCESS. Tadesse knew that a solution was viable, but it wasn’t until he went to the United States to study that he realized he could be the person to make the solution happen. A week after missing a flight due to a late taxi, Tadesse was approached by Uber and asked to be a driver. He accepted and his experience at the company inspired him to create a similar venture in Ethiopia. He realized that if he could implement the same system in Ethiopia, it would be very profitable and at the same time would solve the existing high transportation demand. Tadesse went back to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and founded ZayRide in 2015 — a mobile app and call center that uses existing taxis to provide safe and efficient means of transportation. ZayRide also provides delivery and ambulance services in addition to on-demand taxis.

THE RESULT. Without using advertisements, ZayRide was able to get 30,000 users in just over a year and is currently providing service to over 30% of the population. ZayRide made transport safer by requiring all passengers and drivers to register on the app and have a background check. The company’s services are cheaper, safer and easier to use than any other transportation service in the area. Global investors took note of ZayRide’s success — when Tadesse secured investment, he received more than four times what he had asked for. The company was named the startup with the biggest market impact potential of 2017 by Traction Camp Nairobi, Kenya and was also named the second best startup company in Ethiopia. As an African entrepreneur, Tadesse continues to dream big — he wants ZayRide to be the biggest taxi hailing application in Africa, and the next phase of ZayRide will be to expand into other African cities.


With ZayRide, technology meets transportation. Headquartered in Addis Ababa, ZayRide is a customer centric on-demand taxi service offering fast, convenient service throughout the local area. The app is available on GooglePlay and the AppStore.

Creating Technology-Based Solutions


An African Entrepreneur Creating Technology-Based Solutions

Habtamu Tadesse was raised in Ethiopia and pursued higher learning education in the United States. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Economics from the University of Massachusetts Boston in 2013. As an African entrepreneur, he soon launched his own business. Tadesse and his brother co-founded Basha Restaurant and Bar and successfully sold the company in 2015. That same year, Tadesse founded ZayRide in Ethiopia.

Built on a similar framework as the one used by Uber, ZayRide is a taxi hailing and call center application. Tadesse launched this venture because he wanted to use the expertise he gained in the United States as a way to give back to his home country of Ethiopia. He had asked Uber to consider entering the Ethiopian market, but they didn’t know the market, so he realized he should be the one to implement a solution.

“Safe, simple and efficient mobility is my vision. With simple and efficient mobility we can create a society that is efficient in every sector. That will translate into positive economic growth as well as better quality of life.”

Tadesse believes that in Africa, there are a lot of smart people who can change the world, if given the right platform. It is his vision to help empower his fellow Africans, which is why ZayRide invests in its drivers and wants to expand its services to other African countries.


Source: Afrobytes



Habtamu Tadesse values the benefits of being a Harambean:

“As a Harambean, I benefit from scholarships and access to Harambeans, mentors, feasibility study grants, and angel investment. I can also share my experience for those who want to invest in the second most populous country in Africa. We can create a society that is efficient in every sector.”
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