Business - Issue 114 - Magazine | Monocle

thumbnail text

Security service

Kampala — Transport

In the traffic jams of Uganda’s capital, the motorbike taxi rules. Boda bodas are relatively cheap and the quickest way to beat the gridlock. However, with no driver vetting or regulation, it’s a risky business: the UN estimates that 10 people die every day in Kampala on boda bodas.

That’s where the ride-hailing app SafeBoda comes in. It connects commuters with drivers trained in road safety and first aid. Their bright-orange helmets and jackets bear their name and ID, making them traceable and accountable.

Ricky Thomson, a former boda boda driver, came up with the idea after losing a friend in an accident. A client introduced him to Belgian entrepreneur Maxime Dieudonné, the son of a racing-car driver. “Being on a bike without a helmet and not knowing the driver was crazy,” says Dieudonné. He and Thomson understood one another. “He had the driver perspective and I had the customer perspective.”

Three years after launching, and now backed by the Shell Foundation and the Global Innovation Fund, the app has 50,000 downloads in Kampala, with many more on-street customers. It’s also just launched in Kenya – Tanzania is next.

Hailing the cab

Madrid — Branding

Taxis have been ferrying Madrileños for more than a century but the sector is beset with challenges: ride-sharing apps and concern about service are all widening the driver-passenger divide. As part of the city council’s moves to advance industry standards, design firm Apéritif has been enlisted to improve the public’s perception of the sector.

“Being inspired by iconography from the 1920s and 1930s reinforces the historical significance of Madrid’s taxis,” says Nacho Álvarez-Borrás Feijoó, who has designed the imagery with partner Marga Castaño González. “The city’s visual communication has been generating engagement with policies,” he says. “There have even been requests to buy posters but they’re not for sale.”

Cultural oasis

Bangkok — Culture

The recently opened Cinema Oasis, soon to be one of only two indie screens left in central Bangkok, was founded by film director Ing Kanjanavanit and her husband Manit Sriwanichpoom. Known for her controversial 2012 film Shakespeare Must Die, Kanjanavanit is all too aware of the obstacles faced by young film-makers, which motivated her to establish the 48-seat Oasis. Despite its eclectic programme, the cinema, with its façade by Bangkok-based Deca Atelier, is no arthouse. “I want to appeal to all the neighbours,” says Kanjanavanit. “I even asked the opinion of the som tam [papaya salad] vendor on my street.”

Pallet cleansing

Colombia — Environment

Colombia is the world’s second-biggest flower producer and in its main hydrangea-growing region, eastern Antioquia, farmers generate more than 6,000 tonnes of agricultural waste every month, mostly flower stems. These are burned, releasing hydrogen cyanide into the air. Through his company Bioestibas, founded in 2015, Álvaro Vásquez works with female growers to collect hydrangea stems, which are then compressed into industrial pallets. “We’ve already made 42,000 of them,” says Vásquez. “We’ve also worked with 1,100 growers, recycled 1,680 tonnes of stems and prevented the felling of trees needed to produce [standard wooden] pallets.”

Paper money

Bristol — Retail

Five years ago, Sidonie Warren was a young graphic designer struggling to find a studio in Bristol with her business partner Kyle Clarke. Ending up in a retail unit with a shopfront, they made the most of the space by creating Papersmiths, a shop selling paper goods and stationery. “We started it out of a passion for print and stationery with £500 [€570] and lots of hard graft,” says Warren. “It felt like an expensive hobby.”

But with double-digit growth year-on-year, it was clear that Papersmiths was more than just a side project. A second shop in Shoreditch opened in 2017 and there are plans for more in Chelsea and Brighton, while an in-house product range should capitalise on the growth in stationery sales.

Q. What would you spend €5,000 on?

Answer: “I’d take the team to Japan for the Isot stationery convention. Flights aren’t cheap and there’d have to be budget for stationery souvenirs, sushi and photo-booth experiences.”

Share on:






Go back: Contents



sign in to monocle

new to monocle?

Subscriptions start from £120.

Subscribe now





Monocle Radio


  • The Monocle Daily