Student launches Kambuu, a rickshaw-hailing app for Northern Ghana

After completing high school in 2020, Dave Donbo ’25 and his colleague Zaidan Iddrisu had to take a gap year after being unable to continue their education due to financial constraints. The two focused their time on learning about software programming and mobile app development, skills which they believed could help them start entrepreneurial projects faster.

While ideating and researching solutions they could build, they discovered that even though auto-rickshaws were becoming very popular in the Upper West region where they lived, no one was engaging that market. The auto-rickshaws, popularly referred to as “kambuu”, were effectively the go-to public transportation for many in the region.

“The discovery was a light bulb moment for us,” Dave shared. “Taxi-hailing applications for phones are popular in southern regions of Ghana, but not so much in other parts of the country. We decided to build such a service for auto-rickshaws since it’s the most used means of commercial transportation in the Upper West region. This is why we built the Kambuu App.”

After many months of developing a native application for just android phones, reiterating and working on bugs, Dave and his partner needed funding to launch and grow the project. However, after several unsuccessful attempts to secure funding, the team decided to shelve their idea and pursue higher education opportunities.

Dave looked to Ashesi, which he had been keen on attending since he first learned about the university from his former teacher. His application in 2021 would be his second, after a first application in the prior year was unsuccessful. It proved a good decision, as he was accepted that year into the Computer Engineering Class of 2025.

“I was elated,” Dave shares. “I am happy I didn’t give up after the first rejection and saw my dream finally being realised even after a gap year.”

At Ashesi, Dave went straight to work, immersing himself in the entrepreneurship ecosystem on campus and growing his understanding of how to build a stronger business. In his first four-week introductory class on entrepreneurship, he learned new insights and opportunities for student startups that rekindled his passion for Kambuu.

In his very first semester, he applied for funding from the Fund for Service to Youth and Children at Ashesi towards launching Kambuu. The Fund for Service to Youth and Children was established at Ashesi by the Ford Foundation to fund student startups that also contribute to wellbeing and social impact for young people. Thanks to other funders, the programme has continued at Ashesi.

After interviews with review panels at Ashesi, the programme selected the Kambuu app as one of eight ventures to receive funding. It served as a breakthrough for Dave and his co-founder, who have spent the past three months testing the application for deployment. In August, the Kambuu app went live in Tamale on iOS and Android; and Dave and his co-founder will now focus on growing the app’s usage and recruiting drivers.

“I am excited about the prospects of the Kambuu app,” Dave adds. “The funding we received helped us launch and do some initial promotion for this application after many months of hard work. We look forward to working with riders from Tamale to help increase their revenues and provide people with a way to request alternative transport services from their homes.” 

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