Social entrepreneur, Gidi Traffic, solves a social problem using social media.
Gidi Traffic is among the first in Nigeria to monetize a twitter handle. Gidi Traffic has built a successful social media brand and is now partnering with Nokia, West Africa to create a mobile application that will help commuters in Lagos with traffic updates, alternate routes, and security reports. With such high demand for useful content, Gidi Traffic plans to expand by crowd sourcing information on health, job opportunities, and events.
Gidi Traffic began his social venture with a mobile phone and a free twitter account on September 23, 2011. His goal is to provide on-the-go traffic updates and ease stress for Lagos commuters. Now backed with a solid partnership with Nokia, West Africa and with over 29, 000 twitter followers – Gidi Traffic answers questions and provides information related to traffic delays, alternate routes, health, safety, and career opportunities.
Gidi Traffic is an inspiration to African youths. He is the first African to be nominated for the Life-Saving Hero category at the Shorty award – regarded as the Oscars of social media. He is also nominated for the Best Use of Social Media at the Nigeria Future Awards. In this interview, Gidi Traffic speaks about what inspires him and he shares tips on how African youths can be inspired to become change agents in their local communities.
Nigeria is a country with a very high unemployment rate. The Ministry of Youth Development documents about 68 million jobless youths. Gidi Traffic shares how he uses the available resources that he has access to, to create an employment opportunity. Gidi Traffic has successfully established his brand and shows how to use social media as an effective tool for social change.
How did you come up with the name Gidi Traffic?
The name ‘Gidi_Traffic’ represents Lagos. I wanted something not too official and something that everyone can identify with.
Who is your target market?
Lagos commuters who want to stay informed.
What inspired you to start?
The inspiration to create Gidi Traffic came one afternoon when I was bored. It came as a random thought. I have an aversion to traffic problems in Lagos so that set me on track towards finding a remedy. I guess some good comes from boredom – if our mind is positive.
What is your five (5) year plan?
I do not want to talk about the future in great detail but what I can say is that Gidi Traffic is the future. Be smart, connect with the future. I will probably look back and say, wow! It all started with a tweet.
What advice do you have for youths looking to start an idea but always say there is no money?
I created ‘@Gidi_Traffic’ with nothing but a mobile phone and internet access. Money is not an excuse. If the idea is for social good, money should not be an hindrance. When I created Gidi Traffic, I did not plan to make a profit but now, things have taken off very well. I wanted to create a service to remedy the traffic problem in Lagos.
What challenges do you face?
I have a long list of challenges. Running Gidi Traffic at its current stage is a herculean task. It is very stressful and I handle all parts of the enterprise. My sleeping and eating habits have been greatly altered since creating this business and yes there are times that I am overwhelmed by the work but my zeal comes from the countless testimonies and remarks that I get daily for the relevance and effect of my service and how it indeed makes life better for people.
What five key things have you learned since starting this idea?
1. Be selfless: The best way to be relevant and influential is to NOT be selfish. Do not try to become a celebrity or pursue fame but always aim to make life better for someone else and do so judiciously without expecting a reward.
2. Communicate: I cannot stress the importance of communication. Without updates from my followers, Gidi Traffic will not be this successful. I find that the young women in Lagos are better at reporting traffic updates than the guys.
3. Customers Matter: Always think of your customers. I will recommend to anyone looking to start a social enterprise to provide a useful service that makes people happy and comfortable. Customer satisfaction is truly the best work one can ever do.
4. Be Patient: It takes a great deal of patience to serve people and to figure out what they want.
5. Do Good.
Name four things change agents need to know?
1. Finance: Do not let money serve as a hindrance to your goals. You do not need money or large capital to start your idea. Make sure your idea is feasible and simple enough that it can be implemented.
2. Change starts with you. You do not need to form an organization or have a large team to change the world, impact society, or your local community. Start now.
3. Customer service is important and aim to get positive feedback from clients. Positive feedback is more important than any form of profit or reward you might envisage.
4. Create a solution. Be inspired enough to follow through on your solution or remedy to an existing problem.
How do you think Nigerian youths can continue to support each other?
Nigerian youths do not need to buy range rovers or expensive gifts to support each other. We can be supportive by simply using ‘turn signals’ when driving. I keep saying it is the little things that count.
What policy recommendations or changes do you have to help ease traffic in Lagos?
Apart from creating better roads and infrastructure, many changes are needed. For instance, we need to keep commuters informed of traffic updates, and it is important that the government establish lines of communication and share information with citizens. We are all in this together. The Nigerian government also needs to create more alternate routes and solve the issue of flooding.
What tips do you have for people while in traffic?
1. Be happy or at least, try to keep a happy face.
2. Remember a scowl will not disintegrate the cars in front of you.
3. The only way to change lanes legitimately is by swapping keys with the other person.
Gidi Traffic saves lives. My twitter followers provide useful information.They take the time to send traffic or security updates and they always respond to inquiries. We work together to save lives, time, and money. My motto is “Lending Each Other An Eye” to make the world a better place.
One time, a woman was in labor and she could not make it to the hospital. She tweeted @Gidi Traffic and was able to get help from one of my twitter followers, a mid-wife. The mid-wife explained what she needed to do and she gave birth safely right where she was and there are many stories like that.
Contrary to what some people think, there are lots of good people in Nigeria. I find that people are willing and ready to support one another and the testimonies spawning from Gidi Traffic are countless. They range from university graduates to job seekers who get to their interviews on time because of traffic updates, security reports, and information about job opportunities. Many have found jobs through my tweets. Sometimes, I provide tips on how to avoid fraud and this has prevented some of my followers from getting into regrettable situations.
Contact Gidi Traffic here:
Read more about Lagos mystery Gidi Traffic tweeter reveals identity – Kaptin Idoko http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-17560636