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Musana Carts building smart bridges between street vendors and their cities

Musana Carts helps street vendors to thrive by providing them with a clean, safe and professional way of earning a sustainable income

Photo of Manon
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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

People eat street food because it is affordable, abundant, delicious and has a local and emotional flavor. Far from being just a snack or an anecdote, street food vendors bridge many gaps in a city. A good street-food stall is the one place where the posh and the poor might rub shoulders if only for the few seconds it takes to eat a savory snack. Despite the illegal status of unlicensed street food vendors, who are regularly evicted from the markets, Street food vendors feed 2.5bn people every day around the world and low-income family spends up to 40% of their income in street food. Not only are they a source of nutrition as well as employment for the poor in cities and towns, they are also the eyes and ears and on-the-ground anchors for the local communities. These vendors provide affordable and convenient services to a majority of the urban population from ages, but we need a better solution to make these shops sustainable.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our target customers are existing street food vendors of which there are over 200,000 in Uganda alone and more than 2 million in East Africa. We look for enterprising street vendors who are looking to improve their business and increase their revenue. They are between 17 and 35 years old, living in urban and peri-urban areas. In average they sustain a family of 5 who shares the same roof and the same source of income. Ultimately our street vendors’ customers, the estimated 14 millions Ugandans who eat street food, are also a target. As our innovation aims to grow the street vendors businesses through more sales and consistency, we need to understand those customers’ needs and demand, for a ripple effect.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Musana has a unique value proposition: Compared to other existing solutions we are the first and the only ones distributing a smart network of profitable street food franchises. We are already collecting data on the social, environmental and economic impact on our franchisee as well as their local geolocalisation. At scale we will be the biggest database of street vendors in East Africa. Through our inventory tracking system and our solar system on the cart, we are able to 1. Better serve our customers with on-time inventory 2. Better serve our customers’ customers with adequate services 3. And to Make Musana a Million dollars company through commercial partnerships with telecom, commodities and advertising companies as well as government. Over the last 2 years, we have proven our expertise on street food and our community-based approach which gave us a unique advantage fo partnership and therefore give visibility to our beneficiaries.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Majority Adoption: I have expanded the pilot significantly and the program product or service has been adopted by the majority of our intended user base.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

Musana Carts identifies, appraises and incubates aspiring chefs, helping them to run a successful food franchise business in order to be seen as value creator by their cities.

Expertise in sector

  • 1-2 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered company.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

When I live abroad, I always try to have the most authentic experience I can. In this quest for authenticity, I have come across the art of street food vending many times; street vendors spice the cities, offer affordable food with a local and emotional flavor yet few cities in the world acknowledge their value. Instead, Musana provides opportunities for growth and harnesses the value and entrepreneurial spirit of street vendors.

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Musana Carts is the bridge between street vendors, NGOs, local authorities and food standards authorities. This bridge is a clean and solar powered street vending cart. We believe in a world where potential is realized through running sustainable local businesses. Making street vendors dependable and sustainable will improve the city as much as the citizen’s way of life. Peace has been impacted by the illegality of street vending, street vendor faces every day the risk of being arrested on the streets by the local authorities in most part of the world. Prosperity is influenced by the high cost of running an informal business and the lack of profitable revenue streams opportunities. Loss in public confidence in street foods will not only jeopardize incomes of vendors but also of their employees, and of producers and traders of inputs. Finally, Planet has been impacted by charcoal emission and waste accumul

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

The community served has been involved from the very start of the ideation phase, through discussion, observation, data record, feedback loops etc. We use street vendors' feedback to re-iterate our services and products, we also include end consumers feedback through loyalty and feedback cards, survey, WhatsApp and research to understand their food consuming behaviors. Regarding legitimacy and licensing, we further pushed our system of change approach by hosting co-creation sessions between Kampala Capital City Authorities and street vendors. We engaged Kampala authorities from day 1 and work together on licensing. Finally, we are piloting a partnership with coca-cola to understand how brand visibility can benefit our Chefs on Wheels franchises. We have designed for coke a solar-powered refrigerated cart to serve both street food and sodas

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

Street vendors are a demonstration of innovation, adaptability and resilience in any functional urban area, that have proven the demand for their products from ages. Africa’s booming urban areas are experiencing the highest urban growth rate over the last two decades and an unprecedented high unemployment rate, and informal retail shops represent a significant economic opportunity for the youth

Geographic Focus

Pilot in Uganda, scale East Africa and potentially through whole Africa and the world.

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)


Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No


Join the conversation:

Photo of David MUYAI OTIENO

Very brilliant, hey not just tasty food but also the convenience of being able to get a variety of food with authentic local and cultural taste. I tried these both while at home in East Africa and also while away from home and no doubt, I am amazed of the diversity and originality - and Yes, there is great potential here.

I am sure with proper licensing, which you have correctly identified as an issue, sometime because some want to protect the bucks from freely flowing, your Musana Carts is a great initiative to address social and economic gap in the society. Just think about the "great mama or great papa" who will be able to make available their flavor and taste of food to community.

There are so many great chefs out there that are unknown. And as I read your solutions, I though of mobility and distribution, and generally how do you even get better at distribution. The truth street vendors can finally to SMEs and they can be made visible through SMART Technology. Check my proposal how we are making the invisible SMEs be visible through technology and how we can collectively and effectively address the fundamental issue with current service models.

Photo of Manon

Thank you, David, for validating our bridge of prosperity and peace! Like you, we do love the special flavor and taste of the local food and we believe street vendors deserve not only to earn a sustainable income but to grow a career and build a thriving business. Why not through SMART technology like Barabara!

Photo of David MUYAI OTIENO

Sure, Manon. I am sure we can leverage the technology to collaborate. Our system is more about convenience, easy access of services and coexistence. I think of it as "Bring the service to the consumer" - for example a guy like me who enjoy the street vendor delicacies and "Enable more opportunity to the Service Provider"- in your case the Food vendor who through our app becomes visible in our mobile app digital space.

Then, there is payment that can be automated made through smart contracts, of digital mobile phone money, and identification that can be improved to include face ID, or other digital authentication. All these can improve the distribution process.

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