KAMPALA — Moses Maurice Mugerwa is the Operations Manager at Bolt in Uganda, a leading ride-hailing platform. He has been at Bolt for three years now. Recently, he narrated his career journey, achievements and aspirations.
It’s been two years since you were appointed as the Bolt Operations Manager in Uganda, how has your journey been? How does it feel to be working for the leading mobility platform in Africa?
It’s been a pleasure working for such a big company like Bolt. Every day comes with its challenges, but also amazing milestones to celebrate. What keeps me going is the knowledge that I am making a positive impact in my community and contributing to the growth of ICT development and the transport sector in Uganda.
Bolt has 100 million customers in 45 countries and over 400 cities across Europe and Africa.It feels like I am present in all these countries without actually being there. I am always able to tap into the wealth and breadth of knowledge that comes with this global diversity. My role, additionally, gives me the responsibility of helping my colleagues in a global team to gain insights into what is happening in Uganda.
Your appointment came at the time when the country was experiencing Covid-19 and under a lockdown, how did you manage to keep your team motivated?
Like other regions around the world, Uganda also went through long periods of lockdowns which adversely disrupted economic activities including the transport sector. We also had the longest schools’ closure, which lasted two years.
On a global scale, Bolt operations were affected. However, we were able to cope because of the strong leadership at the top, who made it easier for all managers in different countries to carry on with their jobs. The company adopted a flexible hybrid model where our teams were allowed to work both from home and the office. Additionally, all our teams were equipped with a ‘work from home’ extra stipend. This facilitated them to settle into their home offices.
For me as a leader, beyond my teams’ KPIs, I focused on individual well-being, making sure that employees and their loved ones were coping well, despite the challenges faced due to the pandemic. This meant having deeper conversations with my teams beyond the ordinary day-to-day routine work.
What are some of the achievements that Bolt Uganda has made under your leadership?
Bolt has experienced growth in its different aspects, both from a geographical and business perspective. In the last two years, we have added two cities to Bolt Uganda that is, Gulu and Mbarara. Our business has grown despite the effects of the pandemic. We have also been able to put more focus on safety and quality of our partners, the drivers, hence improving customer satisfaction. In just a short period of time, we have been able to re-emphasize our messaging that we stand for safe, affordable and reliable transportation. Within just a short time,we’ve been able to introduce safety options within the app like the SOS button and sharing trip details with friends and family.
In addition, our brand visibility has improved considerably. When Bolt rebranded from Taxify, many thought it was a new company. In the last two years, we have engaged with all the relevant stakeholders, to change that perception.
During the lockdowns, we initiated driver perks to cushion them from the effects of being unable to operate. Currently, there is no commission on boda bodas and we are only charging 20% for Bolt base vehicles, which is the lowest in the market. This means that we have been able to ensure the best earnings for our partners. We are also actively engaged with key stakeholders on related government policies, to improve transportation in Uganda.
Have you experienced any major challenges?
Yes, the major one has by far been the Covid-19 pandemic. Like all businesses, the transport sector was affected, especially at the beginning when movement was restricted. However, the challenges also came with opportunities for us to learn and innovate. The pandemic led the entire staff at Bolt in Uganda, to undergo a mindset shift. From having halls packed with drivers on a daily basis, to moving all training, on-boarding and support of drivers, to online platforms. The challenge has given us the tenacity to develop new working solutions. Beyond our work, this additionally helped us to improve ICT literacy levels within Uganda.
What do you think is the future of E-hailing in Uganda?
The market offers huge possibilities, and is on an upward trend. Both the government and the public have seen the advantages that come with ride-hailing , like reducing road traffic and making cities smarter.
Ride-hailing has only been a basic entry point. We are yet to explore other services that are already popular in non-marginalized economies. For example, carpooling and car rentals; we all do not have to buy our own cars, or take a five-year loan to buy a new car that you might not need in the next two years.
We are already seeing a few players who have established their footprint into some of these services. I predict that in the future, this will be the new normal.
What advice would you give to young people to get into a world class global company such as Bolt?
Mindset, mindset, mindset! To make it anywhere in life, the first thing is to have a dynamic mindset. Traditionally, when we went to school, we thought we would specifically have the jobs that we studied for in school. A few years down the road, we then realise these jobs have typically been taken over by technology.
Nowadays, titles and academic papers are not sufficient, but skill and technical know-how are very important. I would advise the youth to take time to develop a skill and to not limit themselves to what they have studied. I would also advise them to ride the waves as they come. Ideally, I studied to be a typical software developer writing code, however, that couldn’t get me into Bolt, my skill in business intelligence together with my passion for ICT for development did.