The Nigerian tech industry was thrown into mourning on Monday, July 13, 2020, after news of the death of the founder and CEO of the ride-hailing tech company, Gokada, was made public. The Bengali-American national, Fahim Saleh, played a huge role in the growth of the Nigerian tech industry and was notable for Co-founding Gokada in 2017 alongside Deji Oduntan.
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An on-demand transport company or motorbike hailing service company, headquartered in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos State, Gokada is the first motorbike hailing app in Nigeria which afforded customers the comfortability to order for bikes through the company’s website or with the use of the company’s geolocation mobile app which users must download on their mobile phones, sign up, enter a valid phone number, enter pickup location, and easily request a ride.
Saleh ensured Gokada met the standards set by the Nigerian government for operations as bikes used for the tech start-up had an engine capacity of 200cc, and was driven by licensed operators. The business also serves as a huge source of employment especially to the Nigerian youth population as it trained and on-boarded over 1,000 motorcycles and their pilots on its mobile app. It would go on to complete over 1 million rides, generating $5.3 million in funding in May 2019. The Bengali-American was still not over with his Nigerian project after hitting these figures in 2019.
To make the transport industry in Nigeria comfortable and enjoyable, he re-launched Gokada in August 2019 with improved equipment and well-trained staff (trained in safe driving standards, GPS navigation, and customer service). Fahim once said:
“Gokada has the standard in the market for safety and service. Hairnets, DOT certified helmets, extensive training are all reasons safety on our bikes have been consistent and how we were able to convince so many to give this new age bike-taxi a shot. As we scale, what we have now would be a template for what all our future pilots will follow. We took the risk to pause for a moment and improve on that template in order to provide our customers with exceptional service at scale.”
Fahim Saleh (August, 2019)
However, the business would be negatively hit by the ban on commercial bike services by the Lagos State government in February 2020. Despite losses suffered, Saleh saw a new opportunity by forming a partnership with online shopping company, Jumia, to fulfil its food delivery services with the name Chop. Also, the company has its presence in water transportation with its boat services ride as GBoat.
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Reacting to the death of the 33-year-old tech guru, Deji Oduntan expressed shock at the passage of his former partner.
“I am utterly shocked and deeply saddened by the news of Fahim’s death. Fahim was passionate about building our Ecosystem and left an indelible mark in it.”
In an official statement released on Wednesday, July 15, 2020, the Gokada team expressed deep sadness and regret over the death of Saleh, extending condolences to his family.
“It is with deep sadness and regrets that we have to inform you about the sudden and tragic passing of our founder and CEO, Fahim Saleh. Fahim was a great leader, an inspiration and a positive light for all of us at Gokada, and we are completely heartbroken by the sad news. Our hearts go out to his family, friends, and all those who are currently feeling the same pain that we feel right now. Fahim’s vision and belief in us will always be with us, a reminder that we can achieve whatever we set our minds to. Thank you for understanding as we go through this, we will share any update and changes on [sic] the future as it unfolds. Forever in our hearts.”
This is paying tribute to a visionary entrepreneur and human being. He spent his lifetime setting the pace while others followed. His indelible mark on the Nigerian tech and business space will never be forgotten. Fahim’s Gokada brought ease and employment to the Nigerian populace and his influence and legacy live on in the lives of thousands of Nigerians that gained employment, one way or the other, through his innovation. From transportation to logistics, Fahim was on a mission. May his gentle soul rest in peace.
Featured Image Source: Techpoint Africa
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