The boda boda app improving residents' health

Kelly Lankeu

TissBoda founder Kelly Lankeu demonstrates how the app works at his office in Nairobi.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • Once a customer pays their fare via mobile money, only 80 per cent of it goes to the rider.
  • Ten per cent is sent directly to NHIF
  • The remaining 10 per cent is remittance that goes to the company that founded TissBoda

Imagine a situation where using a boda boda boosts your healthcare.

The two ideas seem worlds apart. But, this is now possible, thanks to an innovation that has integrated transport and healthcare.

A ride hailing app, dubbed TissBoda, and that has been piloted in Narok County enables users to pay a percentage of their boda boda fare to the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF).

Frank Reiya, a resident of Narok South and a registered NHIF member says the app has secured his healthcare goals.

The 30-year-old has been contributing to the fund through deductions directly from his monthly salary.

Reiya says he constantly worried about the healthcare needs of his family and his mother, who also depends on him.

His mother was not registered for NHIF and whenever she fell sick, the payment had to be out of pocket. “When I learnt of TissBoda about a month ago, I took that opportunity to register my mother with NHIF. After her registration, I signed up for TissBoda using her number and identity card,” Reiya tells HealthyNation.

Children's safety

How does he benefit from TissBoda? His children use boda boda to school. He always uses the Tiss Boda app to hail a ride. So far, he has deposited around Sh1,230 into his mother’s account. That will cater for more than two months of her NHIF contribution, which is Sh500 per month.

Apart from the NHIF contribution, he is also assured of his children’s safety since the app displays all the details of the person ferrying his children to school.

Kelly Lankeu, the TissBoda founder, says the idea for the app was a fluke. He thought of it last year, just before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out.

Lankeu and his friends had their lowest moment.

Their friend had been hospitalised after his heart condition worsened. The sickness and the bill weighed the people around him down. He had a private insurance cover that only paid part of the hospital bill.

Still sick, and in hospital, he needed more money to clear his bills. He had two options: either foot the bill from his pocket or use the state-backed NHIF. The latter was not an option because he was not a member. He went with the former, and luckily his friends came through for him. They raised enough money to help him foot part of the bill.

This unfortunate event was the light bulb moment Lankeu needed to act. He did not want what his friend went through to happen to anyone else.

“I thought of boda boda riders, and the fact that many people use it as a form of transport on daily. I figured it would be helpful to pay for fare and have a percentage of that money top up one’s NHIF contribution,” says Lankeu.

Voluntary contributions

Just like that, he linked up with an app developer working with Symatech Labs Ltd whom he sold the idea to. Currently, the app has about 333 users.

As their innovation is still growing, Lankeu hopes to use the platform to encourage voluntary monthly contributions to NHIF. His goal is to support Universal Health Coverage.

How does the application work? Once a customer pays their fare via mobile money, only 80 per cent of it goes to the rider.

Ten per cent is sent directly to NHIF and the remaining 10 per cent is remittance that goes to the company that founded TissBoda.


The TissBoda app.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

If a customer uses a ride many times and their amount goes beyond the required Sh500 monthly contribution, the extra money goes to an online wallet that will be informed of a redeemable e-voucher. One can either transfer the extra money to the next month or redeem it via the voucher.

“I would rather have the extra money transferred to the next month because I may not use the motorbike all the time so that extra money cushions the times that my account is dormant,” says Reiya.

In February, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary hinted at making a monthly NHIF contribution of Sh500 or its annual equivalent Sh6,000 compulsory for all Kenyan households. The bill was to be tabled in Parliament.

With this innovation in place, boda boda users will have solved part of the problem and all they need to do is use a boda boda to pay their NHIF.

So far, 35 boda boda riders have signed for the initiative. They, too, will get returns as Lankeu says they have had talks with the Counties Pension Fund who promised to give the riders life covers since their work involves a lot of risks.