IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, recently announced a $6 million equity investment in Kobo360 Inc, a tech-enabled e-logistics platform that connects the supply of trucks with the demand for transportation services by cargo owners in Nigeria. The investment was led by the IFC with participation from others including Silicon Valley investors WTI, YCombinator , and African institutional investors Cardinal Stone Partners, Chandaria Capital, and TLcom.
The company improves access to long-haul road freight services for large and small enterprises in the rapidly growing agribusiness, fast moving consumer goods, and manufacturing sectors. The company currently has 5,000 trucks empaneled on its platform, from over 600 small fleet owners, serving some of the largest enterprises in Nigeria.
“IFC is committed to supporting the digital economy and young entrepreneurs in Nigeria and across Africa. IFC’s investment in Kobo demonstrates how disruptive technologies can enhance the development of key sectors and contribute to Nigeria’s economic diversification. This is an innovative startup that is making company operations more efficient and lowering transport costs,” said Philippe Le Houérou, CEO of IFC.
Efficient logistics is a core component to growth, transportation and mobility feeds into levels of output, employment and income within a national economy accounting for 6-25 percent of GDP in developed countries. Nigerian road freight accounts for 99 percent of long-haul transportation, a sector plagued by inefficiencies including low utilization of truck assets, low visibility on truck movement, lack of pricing transparency, and insufficient supply of trucks. Trips can take more than three times as long and cost twice the price in Nigeria compared with similar distance routes in the US. Kobo app solves these challenges and inefficiencies.
Obi Ozor, CEO and Founder of Kobo said “We are excited to have our new investors to support us in redesigning transportation and logistics in Africa, and across Emerging Markets, by building a Global Logistics Operating System (G-LOS) to power new frontiers in trade and commerce. Our motivation remains to aggressively reduce logistics frictions for large enterprises and SMEs, and connect new markets, and in the process unlock better wellbeing and opportunities across communities”
The transaction was announced today by Le Houérou and Ozor on the eve of the opening of the Next 100 African Starups Initiative. The program, launched in partnership with the Egyptian Ministry of Investment and International Cooperation and IFC, spotlights more than 100 promising African start-ups that will participate in the Africa 2018 Forum being held in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt from December 8-10. Kobo is among the successful startups sharing its experiences with even earlier stage startups, alongside international investors and financial institutions, government officials, and policymakers from the African continent.
Kobo is the latest addition to IFC’s growing venture capital portfolio of e-mobility startups in frontier markets including BlackBuck (India), Full Truck Alliance (China), Loggi (Brazil), Mandae (Brazil), PickMe (Sri Lanka). IFC supports the mobile technology sector to help promote social inclusion and business growth. Over the past three years, IFC has invested over $1.5 billion in telecommunication, technology, and startup companies globally.