When Kobo360 started operations, the logistics sector in Africa was largely informal with unclear pricing and interference from expensive middleman. In some African countries, it could take days, if not weeks to move goods across the country, thus causing businesses to lose money. The firm now has a mission to build the Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS] in order to boost speed and efficiency in African logistics. It does this by connecting end-to-end haulage operations to help cargo owners, truck owners, truck drivers and cargo recipients achieve an efficient supply chain framework. Through its all-in-one logistics platform, it is reducing logistics frictions in the supply chain via a combination of Internet of things, mobile technology and data analytics. Essentially, the startup is using tech to boost speed and efficiency in African logistics.
Kobo360 won the ‘Disrupter of the Year’ at the Africa CEO Forum Awards 2019 in Rwanda.
StartUp Magazine East Africa interviewed Kagure Wamunyu, the CEO for Kobo360 in East Africa to understand its business model and how it is transforming the logistics industry in the region. The following are the excerpts.
How can your solutions be accessed?
On Android. In less than six hours, we are able to match a user’s request with a selection of quality trucks of all categories, anytime with service delivery guaranteed. We recently launched a new version of our app, Kobo App, which has a first-of-its kind bidding tool allowing drivers and customers to assess the price of a trip before selection. Additionally, we are tackling the lack of transparency in African logistics by providing real-time visibility on cargo and trucks as well as enhance reporting and analytics.
What areas of interest do you target with your logistics solutions?
We’re focused on road-based freight transportation. Powered by technology, we want to ensure a stable, reliable and accessible logistics supply chain system on the African continent. Moving goods and products from Point A to B without any hiccups is not guaranteed when using traditional transportation.
Why do you think you are best suited to serve the regional market?
Kobo360’s leadership team has over 20 years of combined experience in the logistics and supply chain, gained across multiple sectors and disciplines; we all have a passion for transport. At Kobo360, we are focussed on delivering high-quality service for our customers in a fast paced industry and are a diverse team with large ambitions.
Kenya is where East Africa’s largest port, Port of Mombasa, resides. We have a homegrown team, led by me, running our operations in Nairobi. We have an understanding of the logistics industry in this region.
Kobo360 has a proven ability to deliver; we have served over 1,500 businesses, moved over 297m KG of goods and aggregated a fleet of over 10,800 trucks since going live in December 2017.
Have you faced any unique challenges in your course of operation? If so, how have you mitigated them?
When Kobo360 started operations, it was at a time when the logistics sector was informal. We set out to completely change the haulage sector’s operations, starting with Nigeria, Africa’s largest economy. Our first major challenge was introducing Kobo360 – then a new concept – to the market. We spent many months in beta, using a lot of that time with our partners, ensuring they understood how Kobo360 could play a big part of their business and the supply chain. We also had to spend time refining our platform and making it user friendly for truck drivers, in order to attract them and get them to buy into Kobo360.
From your experience, what would you say are the key ingredients of running a successful startup logistics firm?
Execution. Having a great idea is the first step, however converting that great idea into reality is key. Kobo360 started in Nigeria and have made substantial inroads, covering 80 per cent of the country and collaborating with hundreds of freight companies operating out of Apapa Port. Following from our success in Nigeria, we have strategically expanded into Togo, Ghana and Kenya, and aim to be in another five key markets by the end of 2019. We are bullish about bringing order, transparency and accountability to the global logistics supply chain – starting with Africa.
What have been your key milestones since starting up?
A key milestone for us was raising USD 6 million seed funding led by the International Finance Corporation [IFC]. With the funding, we’ve been able to scale our operations rapidly. We were also recognised as the ‘Disrupter of the Year’ at the Africa CEO Forum Awards and I believe our ability to deliver speed and efficiency for businesses looking to move goods across the continent played a key part.
What would you say has been the greatest impact by your logistics solutions in the region?
Kobo360 has impacted the lives of many of the drivers who are a part of the Kobo360 network. The standard of living of many African drivers is considered to be poor, which is why we recognise that it’s our social responsibility to act in the best interest of our drivers, as they are one of the most important elements in the haulage business. We provide our drivers with training and group programs on insurance, discounted petrol and vehicle financing [KoboWin]. Furthermore, drivers who are using the Kobo360 platform earn on average USD 5,000 per month – so we are committed to improving the economics and life situation of our drivers, which has a knock-on effect on the wider economy.
What are your plans in the foreseeable future?
As mentioned earlier, we aim to have a presence in nine African countries by the end of 2019 and ultimately develop a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS]. With the free trade agreement coming into effect, we envision a unified network which will reduce costs and inefficiencies as well as provide smooth operations in the supply chain.
Wamunyu at a glance
- Kagure Wamunyu is current the CEO for Kobo360 in East Africa. In her role she is charged with the launch and growth of Kobo360 in Eastern and Southern Africa.
- Kagure has a passion in transport, which she believes will be an important factor in the economic development of Africa.
- Previously, Kagure served as the Senior Director of Strategy for Bridge International Academies in East Africa, where she focused on policy and PPPs. Before Bridge, she worked as the country manager for Uber in Kenya where she joined as the first hire in Nairobi at launch and grew Uber to a major transportation option in Nairobi.
- Kagure Wamunyu is currently pursuing a part-time PhD at University of Oxford. She holds a Masters in City Planning with a focus on transportation from UC Berkeley, a BSC in Civil Engineering with a focus on Transport Engineering from North Carolina State and a BA in Mathematics from Meredith College.
- Kagure seats on the Board of Fuzu and the Somo Project. She is an active alumna of Zawadi Africa Education Fund.