Kenyan Magic Bus Ticketing App wins $1m grant in Clinton’s Urban Spaces Challenge.

A team of Earlham College students was awarded $1 million in start-up capital on Tuesday after winning the Hult Prize, the world’s largest student competition for social good. The Earlham project is designed to positively affect 11 countries and millions of people.

Developers of Magic Bus Ticketing, a mobile phone application that enables booking of public transport, have secured a Sh101 million ($1 million) grant from a Bill Clinton-backed fund after emerging top out of six finalists.


The Hult Prize finalists were crowned overall winners of the startup funding for their idea of digitising booking, pre-payment and on-board payment of fare for commuters in Kenya.

The idea was borne out of a challenge for the Hult Prize, funded by Clinton, whose contest this year was the creation of a better model to connect people to goods and services in crowded urban spaces.The contest received over 25,000 entries which were shortlisted to six finalists.

The developers comprise a group of students from Earlham College Wycliffe Omondi, Leslie Ossete, Iman Cooper and Sonia Kabra.

The team opted to pilot the idea in Kenya with matatus from Ongata Rongai and Buru Buru available for booking and prepayment on the app.

“In Kenya there is good mobile connectivity and matatus are already in Saccos which makes it easier to deal with than going to individual matatus.

It was a ready market and we had connections with the saccos ,” said Mr Omondi in an interview with the Business Daily. The offline app works via a short code (USSD), which prompts the user to follow a menu of instructions.

The short code instructs the user to select their route, pick-up and drop-off points before offering the selection of matatu that are available and the estimated pick-up time.

Once a user selects their vehicle of preference, they proceed to pay and move to the bus stop within the expected arrival time of the vehicle. In addition to the pre-booking and prepayment, commuters can track the position of the vehicle in real time.


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