What is the best way to implement 'blue ocean' ideas from Western countries, in developing ones?
e.g Uber wants to pull out of Africa at the behest of Softbank. How would Little Ride from Nairobi gain more investment from foreign investors? What is the best approach or is it a combination of approaches?
If I understand your question correctly, you are asking "how can African startup apps, that are similar in function and business model to apps in foreign (non African) markets, attract foreign investor capital?"
If this assumption that this is your question is correct, I believe there is a two part answer.
Part 1: The first question that must be asked is, "Is the foreign app that the African app is similar to a good cultural and practical fit for the African market?" In your example, you mentioned Uber being used in Africa before Softbank's investment in Uber.
At some level, Uber appeared to be at least an adequate ride hailing device in Africa (or at least some African countries). It got the job done. But, it also appears that Uber was too highly priced to compete with many African ride hailing apps. Evidence of this is in this New York Times article from May of 2017.
From what I can gather in the article above, Uber failed to adequately translate its ride hailing platform from one that serves customers in developed countries (low prices, new and safe cars that comply with western safety regulations) to a ride hailing service that serves customers in developing countries (rock bottom prices, allowing cars that are old and fall short of western safety regulations). Uber also appeared to be an unreliable partner to its Kenyan Uber drivers (driving these drivers into debt to buy new cars, then slashing their Uber payment rates).
These missteps gave apps like Little Ride an opening to copy the basic framework of the Uber app and business model, but then also make subtle cultural and practical changes to the value proposition to suit African customers and African problems.
Part 2: Attracting foreign capital to fund the development and expansion of African apps. If the foreign app appears to not be a good cultural or practical fit for the African market, then there is a very good opportunity for a home grown second mover advantage in this particular market. In the case of the example above (Uber and Little Ride), it appears that Little Ride is well positioned in Kenya to fill the space in the market that Uber has made missteps in. It is cheaper and hasn't made the public relations mistakes that Uber has.
So, if an African app has apparent competitive advantages in the African market over its comparable foreign app, then a very good case can be made to foreign investors that the African app will eventually prevail in the market, or at least be able to compete within that market as an oligopolist. In this particular circumstance, Little Ride should probably approach foreign investors for investment capital by highlighting that:
1) Little Ride's value proposition is a better cultural and practical fit for Eastern Africa than Uber, and
2) Little Ride (a local African startup) does not carry the bad public relations baggage that an exploitative (some would say "colonialist") habits of a global behemoth like Uber.
A point of clarification: The scenario I highlighted above (Uber vs. Little Ride) is not a Blue Ocean Strategy for investors. It is actually a very good Red Ocean investment opportunity in a proven business model (ride hailing apps). The key distinction is that Little Ride's ride hailing app appears to be designed and built for an African customer base in mind.
Thank you for this write up on why Uber's initial success in developing markets (such as East Africa) has turned into something of a nightmare for it's users and drivers. I wanted to point out a few things in your article that I thought may require some consideration:
I was always a skeptic about Little Cab for a number of reasons, the critical one being that the developer of the app, Craft Silicon, built its reputation on doing technical integrations for Banks (essentially a B2B business) and had little experience with B2C businesses. The big risk here was that the U/X and user experience would be unlikely to match Uber. Sure enough, this has come to be the company's achille's heel. This is a key challenge for African designed apps: how user friendly are they? My experience is mixed with most apps seeming like they were designed by technical teams with very little engagement with their users.
Finally, Taxify, the Ukrainan based app is now growing in popularity in Nairobi, especially because of how hard it's becoming to get an Uber during critical times (rush hour) in many parts of Nairobi. Former Uber drivers have voted with their feet and are now going with Taxify where fares are slightly higher or comparable to Uber but Taxify only takes a 5%-10% commission (compared to Uber's 25% commission).
The challenges Uber has been facing in markets like Kenya were predicted in this famous
series of articles on Naked Capitalism. The business model is broken and unlikely to succeed in its current form. If there is truly something lasting about this innovation (and there is given market demand), and Uber, Lyft and others are the Yahoos and Hotmails of this sector, what will a future "google" of ride-hailing services look like?