Bridge Taxi Finance

Vukuzenzele: wake up and do it for yourself

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Vincent Raseroka, the Chairman of Bridge Taxi Finance lives by this motto. Not only has he changed his life, his mission is to change the lives of the people with whom he interacts.

“Partnerships, which result in development and progress, are the cornerstones of life. A business or individual has a social responsibility to create win-win scenarios in every situation.” This is the philosophy that drives Raseroka in both business and his personal life.

Bridge Taxi Finance opened its doors in 2013 in a bid to stimulate and grow the taxi industry. As a registered developmental credit provider, Bridge Taxi Finance is able to offer affordable and accessible finance to entrepreneurs within the minibus taxi industry. In addition to providing finance, Bridge Taxi Finance is involved in the day-to-day running of the taxi through the use of technology whilst—and most importantly—mentoring the taxi operators on how to start and run a profitable business.

The taxi industry

During the times of oppression that South Africa experienced, when people of colour were relocated to remote areas with no access to transport, travelling to and from work was a daily struggle. But as South Africans tend to do, the people developed their own solution. Enter the taxi industry. In fact, this is the first 100% black-owned and run industry in the country—no small feat during the Apartheid years.

Today, as much as 70% of the workforce make use of public transport, with over 15 million using minibus taxis as their main form of transport. “We have the beginnings of an effective transport system. Whilst there are many challenges, we have our own uniquely South African way of overcoming them,” says Raseroka.

Financial challenges

According to Raseroka, a large number of taxis are in an unroadworthy condition. One of the major reasons for this is that the legally prescribed age limit for taxis is seven years, yet the average age of taxis currently on the roads is twelve years. Some of the taxis have travelled 1 million kms, which roughly estimates to 7 000kms per month of operation, says Raseroka.

The lack of access to finance is possibly the most prominent reason for these legal infringements. To substantiate this, Raseroka describes the problem faced by one of Bridge Taxi Finance’s clients.

“This is a tragic example of what happens every day. The taxi operator was involved in an accident, which was financed through another company. He ended up losing his taxi as well as his house because he couldn’t operate his business and, therefore, couldn’t pay the instalments. He was subsequently blacklisted, which gave him no hope of him getting out of this quandary. He approached us (Bridge Taxi Finance) and we helped him with the process. He has now successfully paid for two taxis and is currently on his third. Unfortunately, this case is not limited to this client, but sadly represents between 10 – 15% of our clientele,” he explains.

Women in the industry

Fifteen per cent to twenty per cent of Bridge Taxi Finance’s clientele is female, meaning this male-dominated industry is soon to change. The accident rates of Bridge Taxi Finance’s female clientele are significantly less than their male counterparts, Raseroka says: “It is possibly due to the more intrinsic nurturing nature of women that they are less prone to accidents.” In addition, women are more careful and pay more attention to the rules of the road. “But this could be a whole other discussion,” laughs Raseroka

Job creation

It is estimated that one taxi creates 1.8 direct jobs and 8.8 indirect jobs. These jobs include taxi washers, informal food sellers and petrol attendants, to name a few. Without a booming taxi industry, the effect on the economy could be crippling.

Bridge Taxi Finance has independently created a total of 2 800 direct jobs and an estimated 13 600 indirect jobs since 2013.

What makes Bridge Taxi Finance different?

Bridge Taxi Finance offers finance of the highest quality Chinese vehicles, which have been built to the exacting South African standards. Raseroka says that Bridge Taxi Finance has an equity stake in the importers of each of the vehicles, meaning they have a vested interest in the quality and efficiency of the vehicles. Bridge Taxi Finance not only ensures that the highest quality vehicles are imported for their clients, but that parts and after-sales service are world class.

Bridge Taxi Finance has a hand in the lifecycle of each vehicle, which, in turn, creates the support services available to clients. Parts, panel beating, vehicle tracking and telemetrics assist their clients to operate vehicles in the most efficient and cost-effective manner. By using technology as a backbone to their services, relationships of trust are formed and, therefore, create sustainable businesses contributing to the growth of the country.

Taxis and technology

These are not two words one would automatically associate with each other. Yet, through the use of telemetrics and vehicle tracking, each taxi operator is able to, in real-time, analyse if the drivers are on their routes, collecting as many fares as is legally possible and that the safety of the passengers is still the critical factor.

Bridge uses telemetrics to monitor speeding, hard braking and the skipping of robots. They advise owners of the taxis of these infringements—these services have helped to reduce accidents and improve the safety of passengers using taxis funded by Bridge Taxi Finance.

The future of the taxi industry

Bridge Taxi Finance has, over just six months, secured R100 million of the R800 million required through a JSE-listed fundraising programme. This fundraising is underway in order to further grow the taxi industry under controlled and safe metrics. “Ensuring that finance is available to potential entrepreneurs within this fast-growing industry is critical to the country’s growth. In addition, through the various controls and relationships held by Bridge Taxi Finance with China as well as the South African government, the quality of the vehicles and the parts is guaranteed,” says Raseroka.

The government’s National Development Plan aims to create 11 million new jobs by 2030, and this is to be achieved through the support and development of SMMEs. Yet, one of the biggest potential downfalls for new, small businesses is the lack of access to finance. Raseroka believes this is because the traditional way of lending money is outdated and needs to be redefined for the local market.

“Through developing our partnerships with our clients, we hope to play an important role in developing the economy but what’s even more important is that we assist our clients to become new, successful businesspeople who are then able to uplift fellow South Africans.

“Local entrepreneurs do not receive enough support and Raseroka believes that there will never be enough support.

“Until you can get someone to believe and understand that their future is their responsibility, no amount of support given will uplift them. Taking them from a viewpoint of a victim to a survivor is critical to success. Bridge Taxi Finance lives this premise and that is why mentorship and lifelong support for our clients are central to our business,” says Raseroka.

It is very rare to find a business so focused on the people rather than the bottom line. Bridge Taxi Finance is one of those businesses. 

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