There are active venture funds, and then there’s TLcom’s TIDE Africa Fund, which had an especially busy 2018. It closed its year with a fifth investment, adding to a portfolio that includes Andela, Twiga Foods, Terragon, and mSurvey by contributing to Kobo360’s $6 million seed round. The IFC led the round, with WTI, Y Combinator, Sequoia Scout, Cardinal Stone Partners, Chandaria Capital, and Verod Futures Fund also taking part. TLcom Senior Partner Omobola Johnson and Wale Ayeni from the IFC will assume board seats.
African technology companies have increasingly aimed to disrupt logistics, making it a prime channel for investing in the continent. “There’s a lot of inefficiencies in long-haul freight in Africa,” Ayeni explained to TechCrunch. Kobo360 is a Lagos-headquartered digital logistics platform designed to “[aggregate] end-to-end haulage operations to help cargo owners, truck owners, drivers, and cargo recipients to achieve an efficient supply chain framework.”
The Uber-esque app was created to offer the $150 billion African transportation and logistics market increased transparency, reliability, and predictability through competitive rates, real-time tracking, big data, and more. The company says it “enables unprecedented efficiency and cost reduction in the supply chain, providing 360-visibility while delivering products of all sizes safely, on time and in full.” Company statistics indicate they have “served 900 businesses, aggregated a fleet of 8,000 drivers,” and moved “approximately 36 million tons of cargo.”
Kobo360 CEO and founder Obi Ozor says the company will use the capital infusion to take the next step in their evolution – becoming not just an app, but a platform. “Large enterprises are asking us for very specific features related to movement, tracking and sales of their goods,” said Ozor. “We either integrate other services, like SAP, into Kobo or we build those solutions into our platform directly.” TechCrunch reports the company “will start by developing its API and opening it up to large enterprise customers,” as well as opening 100 additional hubs in 2019, increasing warehousing capabilities, and “[expanding] programs and services for its drivers, something Ozor sees as a strategic priority.” The company also plans to expand into new, undisclosed markets.