More than taxis: ODESH aims to create a new market for on-demand services in Papua New Guinea


Finding a safe and reliable taxi service in Port Moresby can be an issue, but entrepreneur Isaac Jipsy has developed ODESH, an online solution that is changing the way taxi services operate in Papua New Guinea’s capital.

ODESH is an app that offers affordable, safe and reliable taxi services in Port Moreby. Credit: ODESH

Isaac Jipsy wanted to get back home. The year was 2017. It was late and he was tired, yet he had to walk a long distance to get a safe taxi.

‘This experience led me to think about a safer, cheaper way to book a taxi instead of walking to where the safe taxis are,’ he tells Business Advantage PNG.

After travelling to the Philippines, Singapore, the US and Australia for work and using the Uber, Lyft and Grab ride-hailing services, Jipsy came back to Port Moresby and worked with his technical team to put together a similar prototype.

But the former ExxonMobil employee says that he immediately realised his platform needed modifications to respond to Port Moresby’s unique challenges.

Over the past two years, Jipsy has consulted with over 150 taxi drivers to understand their needs, and about 200 taxi users. The result is ODESH (On Demands Express Services Hub), the first Papua New Guinean ride-hailing solution that connects taxi drivers and chauffers with customers in real time.

Isaac Jipsy [left] and his wife, Prime Minister Marape [centre], Michael, ODESH Chairman, and his wife [right]. Credit: ODESH

Prime Minister James Marape launched the ODESH app and website in December 2019 during the Startup PNG event. ODESH now has over 130 registered drivers and currently provides over 200 trips per day in Port Moresby.

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But what makes it different to other taxi services? ODESH aims to provide a safer, affordable and convenient public transport service.

‘Most of our repeat customers are mothers, young women and those within the LGTB community,’ says Jipsy.

‘We will be the one-stop-shop hub, connecting businesses direct to the customers.’

‘If a client in a taxi feels unsafe because of the driver’s behaviour or for some other reason, they can press the app’s SOS button and the driver’s profile, current location and vehicle details will be immediately sent to our call centre, which alerts the police to respond,’ explains Jipsy. ODESH has a MOU with the National Capital District Police under the Public Safety Initiative. In 2021, ODESH will have its own Security Response Unit.

Trip fare rates set in ODESH platform for taxis and chauffeurs are in line with the 2020 ICCC rates. Meanwhile, vehicles work round the clock to ensure ODESH offers a genuinely 24×7 service.

Future plans

Jipsy has plans to expand ODESH to other cities, including Lae, Rabaul and Alotau, as well as introduce other on-demand services, and then scale.

‘Besides a taxi service, we want to introduce delivery, online grocery shopping and other on-demand services in 2021 to help to promote the SME sector. We will be the one-stop-shop hub connecting businesses direct to the customers,’ says Jipsy.

Over 3000 people have so downloaded the iOS and Android ODESH app. Jipsy says there are discussions underway to partner with Digicel PNG, which has more than one million active subscribers in PNG.

Start-up wise

Many entrepreneurs never see their ideas come to fruition because of lack of capital or mentoring.

Jipsy participated in the 2017 Kumul GameChangers Entrepreneurship program, where he learned key product development lessons from a Silicon Valley instructor.

This year, he took part in the 2020 StartUp Challenge, a nine-day event organised by Myanmar-based business accelerator, Phandeeyar.

The event brought together entrepreneurs from Samoa, Fiji and PNG and offered advice on product development, marketing and pitching to potential investors. From that event, nine teams, including ODESH’s, advanced onto the GSMA Launch Pad, a six-week program that offered mentorship and training.

‘Those programs give me the opportunity to meet investors and mentors in the Asian regions and understand what other entrepreneurs are doing,’ says Jipsy.

‘One key lesson I’ve learnt is that you must be 100 per cent committed to pursue your dreams.’

After the Launch Pad, ODESH entered won another startup pitching competition organised by Seedstars and will represent PNG in a regional competition against start-ups from Fiji, Samoa and Maldives. The winner will qualify for the World Startup Challenge to compete for US$500,000 (K1.8 million) in funding next year.

‘One key lesson I’ve learnt is that you must be 100 per cent committed to pursue your dreams,’ Jipsy concludes. ‘That is what you’re passionate about, even if it means to make some personal sacrifices.

‘After gaining traction, start applying to many accelerator programs. This will help you access the experienced mentors, angel investors and strategic partnerships you can leverage for your growth and expansion.’



  1. Betty Gerea says

    Your article inspired me to include entrepreneur curriculum for Papua New Guinea Maritime College Students.

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