By Obi Ozor, the CEO of and Co-founder of Kobo360, an Uber-like app that connects truckers to cargo owners
Growing up as a young boy in a farming village in Enugu, I started a logistics business at the local truck park. The challenges I faced then, as a teenage business owner, were still the same challenges SMEs & large enterprises were facing in 2016. I knew something had to be done. You find middlemen who charge exorbitant unaccountable fees to transport cargo but cannot provide accurate tracking information when asked. Goods arrive at their destinations in terrible shape or sometimes go missing. Not to mention the stress truck drivers go through waiting to load the cargo at the ports or the danger faced while transporting said goods.
Transport + Logistics across Africa has been in a poor state for some time. Kobo360 was launched to address this. Was it ever going to be an easy task? You know the answer. No. Do we think we are the best people to effect continent-wide change? Yes. And here’s why.
Since 2017, Ife Oyedele II and I wanted to help solve the logistics problems SMEs and large companies faced in Nigeria. With lead times of up to two weeks to deliver cargo, we knew we had to do something about the inefficiencies in the supply chain and increase productivity. With that in mind, Kobo360 was born. Our tech-enabled full truckload offering enables the development of an efficient supply chain for end-to-end long-haul freight operations, connecting and supporting cargo owners, truck owners & drivers, and cargo recipients.
Since launching, we’ve moved over 500Mkg of goods, aggregated a fleet of over 10,000 drivers and trucks, and serviced over thousands of SMEs and 80 large enterprises such as Dangote Group, DHL, Unilever, Olam, African Industries, Flour Mills of Nigeria, and Lafarge. We’re disrupting third-party logistics by handling the movement of goods, tracking, warehousing, sales and accounting. From start to finish, we are supporting our customers and making logistics work for them. We are two years in; we want more of the same, at scale, across the continent. We are excited to think where we will be in ten years’ time.
After making substantial inroads into Nigeria, covering 80% of the country, we’ve set our foot on key strategic trade hubs in Western and Eastern Africa, with a mission to build a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS] powering trade and commerce across Africa and emerging markets. Today, we also have a presence in Togo, Ghana and Kenya.
The company was started with SMEs in the forefront of our mind, however as the years have passed, we’ve grown to heavily depend on our drivers more than we may have originally realised. Without them, there would be no Kobo360. We will continue to ensure they are trained to use our mobile-enabled technology that is adapted to several local languages. The results have been positive; they have been able to convey goods quicker and seamlessly and earn 40% more than the industry average due to reduced downtimes. We are training, supporting and paying an army of drivers, in their tens of thousands, who are securing their own financial futures through our driver-empowerment programs, KoboWIN and KoboCare.
Today, I am proud to announce that Kobo360 has completed a $30M fund raise; a $20M Series A equity round and $10M in local currency working capital financing secured by Nigerian commercial banks. This powers us to meet the hugely ambitious goals that we have set ourselves. Importantly, we are also welcoming Goldman Sachs, who led this round, and Asia Africa Investment & Consulting to the Kobo360 family. They join our existing investors TLcom Capital, Y Combinator and the International Finance Corporation.
Over the last two years, we have built a reputation for delighting our customers and improving the working lives and careers of thousands of drivers across the continent. This capital enables us to do more by building out our driver workforce, develop our technology offering, accelerate supply growth and scale quickly, to power the recently launched Africa Free Trade Continental Agreement [AfCFTA] that is expected to catalyse intra-African trade.
With the support of thousands of SMEs and large enterprises, drivers and the Kobo360 team across our locations, and with African countries opening up to trade through the AfCFTA agreement, we are powering commerce in Africa – in every sense.
We want to join forces with all the players operating in the logistics sector – which brings me to my next point:
- We are on the hunt for phenomenal ‘Ninjas’ and ‘Rock Stars’ to join us on this journey as we build a Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS].
- If you’re a business having issues with supply chain, our door is always open.
- And the same goes for all the fleet owners who seek 100% asset utilisation and supply chain service providers; we are here to partner with you.
- And for the potential service providers to the supply chain ecosystem, come to us – let’s partner up and deliver value to the industry.
Today, we take just a moment to pause and reflect on the journey so far. We celebrate the capital injection, what this allows us to do, and we welcome some incredible partners who are with us for the long term.
Ok – moment over, back to business – let’s get Africa moving.