Kobo360 Logistics Platforms Raises US$30 Million Funding

The Nigerian digital technology freight logistics startup, Kobo360 has raised a total sum of $30 million funding; part debt funding and part venture funding. It raised a $20 million Series A equity round led by Goldman Sachs, with participation from Asia Africa Investment and Consulting Pte, and existing investors including the International Finance Corporation, Y Combination and TLcom Capital.

The company also announced that it raised an additional $10 million in local currency working capital from Nigerian commercial banks. This new funding round follows a $6 million seed investment last year led by the International Finance Corporation which enabled the company to expand to Togo, Ghana and Kenya.

In a statement on Wednesday, 14th of August, the company said it plans to broaden its reach in Africa significantly by entering ten new countries beyond its current operating markets of Nigeria, Togo, Ghana and Kenya by the end of 2020. According to the CEO, Obi Ozor, the final decisions on the 10 new countries will be made by the first quarter 2020.

With the funding, the team said it will “continue to scale the organisation, develop the technology offering, and accelerate supply growth.”

Kobo360 is also “planning to add 25,000 drivers to the platform in the coming months to power the recent Africa Trade Continental Agreement, expected to catalyse intra-African trade.

Speaking on this, Obi Ozor, Co-founder and CEO of Kobo360 said, “Our Series A allows us to invest in growing our talented team that is working hard on the ground to systematically address the inefficiencies within the African logistics sector, and strengthen our already extensive network of clients and truck owners across the continent.

We are also focusing on developing the partnership with drivers, ensuring that they are trained to use mobile-enabled technology, so they can convey goods seamlessly and earn more money. We are already seeing drivers running trips on the Kobo360 platform increase their monthly earnings by 40%, as we work together to mobilise logistics across Africa.

As a cross-border freight service, the company intends to maximise this funding to benefit from the Africa’s Continental Free Trade Area (AFCFTA) which was signed this year by all the 54 countries in Africa to reduce friction and barriers on Pan-African commercial activity.

The startup expects to have a voice in the final implementation of AFCTA, in addition to lower costs for its country-to-country freight movement. On this, Ozor said, “We’re going to do some policy work through the IFC so we can help shape AFCTA. The key to the deal is really logistics, so if the logistics component doesn’t work out the deal isn’t going to work”.

The company’s plan is to use a part of this new funding to build out its Global Logistics Operating System. GLOS (shortened form) is a blockchain-enabled platform that will help the company to transition to more supply-chain services.

Launched in 2017 by two Nigerian entrepreneurs – Obi Ozor and Ife Oyedele II, this latest funding has made Kobo360 the second top-funded transport and logistics startup in Africa with investors betting on the company’s ability to meet a rise in demand for cargo deliveries while riding on the back of the AFCFTA.

Correction: “Ventures Platform Changes Leadership as Founder and Executive Director, Kola Aina Steps Down”

The Founder and Executive Director of Ventures Platform Foundation, Kola Aina, has stepped down from his role in the company.

In our post on Thursday, we stated that the Founder and Executive Director of Ventures Platform has stepped down completely from his role. This was however a mistake on our part.

As said on Thursday, the Ventures Platform Hub consists of three distinct organisations: the Ventures Platform Foundation, Ventures Park (the co-working business), and the Ventures Platform fund, through which it has invested in noteworthy startups like Tizeti, Paystack and PiggyVest.

So, in truth, Kola Aina has stepped down from his role as the Executive Director of the Ventures Platform Foundation, which is the arm of the company that fosters skill development and entrepreneurship in Africa. Now, Mr Kola Aina will move to the company board and will continue leading the Ventures Platform Fund’s investment in African startups.

Speaking on this, Mr Kola Aina said, “Over the the course of 3+ years, Ventures Platform has morphed into 3 entities under the “umbrella”; Ventures Platform Hub, and today we have made some leadership changes effective 1 August, 2019.”

He went on to explain, saying, “At Ventures Platform Foundation — where we are working to build the future of Africa through skills, innovation and entrepreneurship — Mimshach Obioha is the new Executive Director. He will provide focused leadership to the amazing teams that work with our partners to implement various programs based on our theory of change.

At Ventures Park — where we create enabling environments for entrepreneurs, innovators, and change-makers — Nkechi Oguchi is the new CEO. She will drive and expand upon the mission of creating enabling communities for the builders of Africa’s future.”

He concluded, saying, “At Ventures Platform Fund — where we provide capital and support for early-stage startups — I will continue to lead our investment efforts and look forward to spending more time discovering bold founders building the future of the continent.”

US Venture Capital, Gray Matters coLabs, Invests $100k Funding in Kenyan Startup, Taimba

Nairobi-based B2B agritech startup has secured a USD 100,00 funding from US impact investor, Gray Matters Capital’s gender lens portfolio, GMC coLABS.

Taimba is a mobile-based cashless business-to-business platform that connects rural scale farmers to urban retailers. Founded in 2017 by Dominique Kavuisya and Joan Kavuisya in 2017, the company sources agricultural products from rural-scale farmers directly and delivers to schools, informal green grocers, restaurants and hospitals within Nairobi. Thus, it eliminates the need for middlemen, reduces the agricultural value chain, cuts wastage and makes agricultural produce more affordable.

Currently, Taimba has over 2,000 farmers in its portfolio and it engages with fifteen farmer SACCOs (Savings and Credit Co-operatives) to sell produce, and it also has 310 customers based out in Nairobi.

Commenting on the funding, the CEO and Co-Founder of Taimba, Dominique Kavuisya said,

“We are delighted to become a part of Gray Matters Capital’s portfolio through the coLABS funding. This is a validation of the work which we have been doing and the impact on-ground delivering value to vendors and farmers through our mobile platform. The funding is a shot in the arm for us to strengthen our warehouse infrastructure by setting up cold storage facilities and also our delivery logistics so that we can cater to 6 new markets within Nairobi.”

The Kenyan startup is also planning to establish in Kisumu and Mombasa city by 2020 and intends to introduce new products such as nuts, fruits and eggs to its product catalogue of tomatoes, potatoes, carrots and cabbages.

The Head of Product Development and Co-Founder, Joan Kavuisya, also adds that the company will expand its tech such that there will eventually be a simple solution that enables traders and farmers to engage and benefit from the startup better.

Mines.io Raised $13M to expand big-data for lending in emerging market

Mines.io uses big-data to help lending companies to identify the risk profile of their customers in Nigeria and other emerging markets. Starting a lending startup in Nigeria is almost as quick as launching a WordPress site, this is made largely possible by Mines.io and other payment infrastructure in the country.

Mines.io has raised 2 seed funds and a debt financing before now and has been able to expand it’s customer base across payment service provider, telco company and lending startups.

With offices in Lagos and San Fransisco, the company is founded by high-flying computer scientists; Ekechi Nwoka and Kunle Olukotun. The funding will help them expand to other emerging market is South East Asia and South America.

Nigerian TaxiTV raised $50k in seed funding

Ever been in an Uber or Taxify and while you are on our ride, you watch TV skits with ads at intervals? Yes, it’s powered by TaxiTV, it’s a digital advertising company helping clients reach upwardly mobile professionals using Ride hailing services.

Raising $50,000 from Beta.Ventures, Collins Onuegbu of Sasware, Sam Senbanjo of Neon Ventures and group of angels it will help the company ramp up its product, expand the fleets it deploys to and also grow its client base.

Currently, with over 200 cars, 10 brands and 20 SMEs, we hope to see them accelerate this in coming months. The sector seems really exciting, executing this will help them take control of the market and probably take on other outdoor digital advertising startups.


Applications for Y Combinator’s Winter 2019 Funding Cycle are now Open

US seed accelerator Y Combinator (YC) has opened applications for its winter 2019 funding cycle. Yesterday we published an article about how Kobo360 raised pre-seed funding from Y Combinator, you can read about it here.

This announcement was made on Monday last week and the deadline for interested start-ups is 2 October 2018. Y Combinator invests $120K in start-ups for 7% equity in return. On its website the accelerator notes that sometime between late October and early December, it will invite the best startups to meet with its representatives in Mountain View (Silicon Valley), California where it will then select the companies it will invest in. The founding teams of the selected startups will be expected to relocate their companies to San Francisco’s Bay Area. YC will assist founders in creating a US company into which the accelerator will invest in.

What you need to know

  1. If you want to apply, please submit your application online by 8 pm PT on October 2. Startups that submit early have a small advantage because we have more time to read their applications. And you can submit after the deadline – though keep in mind that the later you apply, the harder it is to get in.
  2. On October 23, by 10 PM, we’ll invite the startups that seem most promising to meet us in Mountain View either in late October, November, or early December. We’ll reimburse reasonable travel expenses.
  3. We decide what startups to fund after each day of interviews.
  4. If we invest in your startup, your company’s founding team is expected to move to the Bay Area for January–March 2019. You can, of course, relocate the company afterward if you want, but it’s a good place for a startup to be.
  5. Y Combinator doesn’t supply office space. We have space your company can use if you need to, but we expect your startup to work out of wherever you find to live. It is no coincidence that so many successful startups have started this way; it’s the ideal setup for the initial phase.
  6. During the 3 month cycle, we’ll have dinners every Tuesday for all the founders. At each dinner, we’ll invite an expert in some aspect of startups to speak.
  7. We have regular office hours year round for startups who want to talk about what they’re building, or get advice on dealing with investors. We also have occasional events at YC.
  8. During and after the 3 months we introduce startups individually to people who could help them. The founders of other YC-funded companies tend to be especially helpful. Today the YC alumni network is probably the most powerful network in the startup world.
  9. About 11 weeks in, we organize an event called Demo Day at which the startups present to a carefully selected, invite-only audience.
  10. YC doesn’t really end after 3 months; only the dinners do. We continue to give advice and make introductions as long as our startups need—-and so does the informal network of YC-funded companies.

Who we fund

How do we choose which startups to fund?

We’ll fund companies from anywhere in the world. We fund companies doing everything from building mobile apps to diagnosing cancer.

We’ll happily fund companies that just started and have nothing more than an idea. And we’ve funded companies that had over $20M in annual revenue and over 50 employees.

International founders, please note: if your company is already incorporated as a non-United States company, to participate in YC you will need to convert your foreign company into a United States corporation (usually with a foreign subsidiary). While lawyers will drive this process, it will require a significant effort on your part.

You must have at least 10% equity in the startup to be considered a founder by Y Combinator. Only founders can come to interviews if invited or attend batch events if accepted.

Also read this guide on what the accelerator looks for in successful submissions.


The MTN Group is looking to sell more shares in Ghana than Nigeria

MTN Nigeria wants to borrow N400 billion

With no definite date yet, MTN Nigeria is looking forward to raising the sum of $500 million, disposing of about 30% stake in the business by getting listed on the Nigerian Stock Exchange (NSE).

And just recently, MTN Ghana launched an Initial Public Offering (IPO) to raise about $743 million for a 35% stake in the business unit.

It’s obvious that MTN Group is raising more money from its IPO in Ghana than that of Nigeria’s despite the fact that the latter has a significantly higher subscriber base.

According to the National Communications Authority of Ghana, Ghanaian business unit of MTN Group has 16,969,311 subscribers (PDF) as of April 2017. And based on the latest figures from the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), MTN Nigeria has 65,209,222 from 58,121,427 as at April 2017.

And figures from the group’s financial results for the year 2017 (PDF), Earning Before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) in Nigeria is R14,041 million, compared to Ghana’s unit which had R4,116 million.

In spite of these figures, the question that still begs for an answer is why the group is raising more money and selling more stake of its Ghanaian unit than its Nigerian counterpart.

The listing of MTN Nigeria is a condition for a 2015 fine imposed by NCC, for the Ghana business unit, the listing is in fulfilment of one of the conditions reached with the Ghanaian government in 2015 on acquiring the right to use fourth generation spectrum to serve its customers.

There have been cases of the regulatory authority —  NCC — imposing fine on telecom operators for poor quality of service in the past. And telcos have been decrying the multiple taxations by the government at various levels.

Over a decade, the fundamental problems of the industry still include power, multiple taxations, bureaucracy and vandalism of telecom infrastructure. But in spite of these challenges, the amount of money the company is raising from its Nigerian unit is an indication that the group is not ready to lose control of MTN Nigeria.

Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding.

Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding.
Piggy Bank raises $1.1M in seed funding.

Piggybank.ng closed $1.1M in seed funding and announced a new product — Smart Target, which offers a more secure and higher return option for Esusu or Ajo group savings clubs common across West Africa.

The financing was led with a $1 million commitment from LeadPath Nigeria, with Village Capital and Ventures Platform contributing $50,000 each.

Founded in 2016, by   Somto Ifezue, Odunayo Eweniyi and Joshua Chibueze, Piggybank.ng offers online savings plans — primarily to low and middle income Nigerians — for deposits of small amounts on a daily, weekly, monthly, or annual basis. There are no upfront fees. Savers earn interest rates of between 6 to 10 percent, depending on the type and duration of investment.

Users need an account with one of PiggyBank.ng’s bank partners to use the products. The startup generates returns for small-scale savers (primarily) through investment in Nigerian government securities, such as bonds and treasury bills. PiggyBank.ng itself generates revenue through asset management and from the float its balances generate at partner banks.

The startup looks to grow clients across younger Nigerians and the country’s informal saving groups.

“The market that we are trying to serve is largely the millennial market, though we do not exclude anyone,” said Eweniyi, the company’s chief operating officer. The venture also looks to meet a demand in Nigeria for accessible investment options, citing a survey they conducted indicating that as a top priority for people with discretionary income.

“Piggybank offers savings, but our vision is not just savings, but to become a holistic platform — a financial warehouse — where other financial providers can plug in their services for PiggyBank users,” said Eweniyi. She cited banks, investment houses, insurance, and pension funds as possible partners.

The company currently has 53,000 registered users — 60 percent of whom are Nigerian Millennials — who have saved in excess of $5M since 2016, according to a release.

Joshua Chibueze, Co-Founder and CMO of Piggybank says, “Today’s announcement allows us to expand and capitalise on the many opportunities that the market presents us with. Our growth so far has been stimulated almost entirely by peer-to-peer advocacy and our investment in the highest quality customer service, so we know the market is there, and the product has been built, modified, tested and ratified by users. With this fundraiser, we can invest significantly in our people and products, as we build a digital financial warehouse accessible to millions of Africans whose savings woes we want to put firmly behind them.”

In addition to securing its seed funding of $1.1 million, Piggybank.ng has recently acquired a micro-financing license from the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), which provides the relevant regulatory cover, allowing them independence from partnering with banks.

Taxify secures $175m funding from Daimler, now valued at $1bn


Taxify secures $175m funding from Daimler
Taxify secures $175m funding from Daimler

Ride-hailing company Taxify this morning announced it has completed an investment round of $175 million. The investment round was led by global automotive leader Daimler. Daimler will also join the board of Taxify.

The Daimler Group is one of the biggest producers of premium cars and the world’s biggest manufacturer of commercial vehicles with a global reach.

In a statement, Taxify said it will use the investment to further develop its ride-hailing technology and continue working on best ways to move in cities, particularly in home markets Europe and Africa.

European venture capital fund Korelya Capital and TransferWise co-founder Taavet Hinrikus joined a number of existing investors including Didi Chuxing in a round that brings Taxify’s valuation to $1 billion.

Taxify launched in 2013 in Estonia with the then 19-year-old Markus Villig borrowing college money from his parents to build the first version and personally recruiting first drivers to the platform. Today, Taxify is one of the fastest-growing ride-hailing companies in the world with over 10 million passengers and 500,000 drivers in more than 25 countries.

Jörg Lamparter, Head of Mobility Services, Daimler Financial Services, said: “Already today, we are serving almost 22 million customers worldwide with our mobility services, ranging from carsharing, multimodal platforms to ride-hailing. Taxify is an ideal addition to our existing and extensive mobility services portfolio. With its fast-growing ride-hailing activities and extensive geographical coverage, Taxify is a perfect fit with Daimler.”

Markus Villig, CEO and co-founder, Taxify said: “We’re on a mission to build the future of mobility, and it’s great to have the support of investors like Daimler and Didi. The number of rides on Taxify grew by ten times last year, even considering that our home markets Europe and Africa are some of the most complex markets for ride-hailing in the world. Today, more than ten million people globally use Taxify. But this is just the beginning as more and more people give up on car ownership and opt for on-demand transportation.”