Last mile logistics and delivery are the bane of many a business across Africa. And so in true form, the continent’s tech entrepreneurs are solving the problem, increasingly making courier and delivery services available at the touch of a finger. Here, Disrupt Africa highlights five African e-courier startups to watch.
Nigerian e-commerce logistics startup Africa Courier Express (ACE) made headlines in February, securing the first investment – to the tune of US$850,000 – of pan-African payments company Interswitch’s new US$10 million ‘ePayment Growth Fund’.
Launched by former Jumia Nigeria managing director (MD) Tunde Kehinde, ACE also raised funds from Africa Angels Network and Savannah Fund.
ACE offers same day and next day delivery, real-time tracking of packages and pay-on delivery services to online and offline retail companies, consumer goods businesses, healthcare companies and banks across Nigeria.
In an interview with Disrupt Africa, Kehinde and co-founder Ercin Eksin said the startup has the potential to help drive Africa’s growing e-commerce sector, with the founder thinking big with plans for continent-wide expansion.
South African startup Wumdrop launched in Cape Town in September 2014, with the sole mission of answering the dire need for delivery logistics. Founders Simon Hartley and Roy Borole said a number of previous ventures they worked on had been let down by delivery options available, prompting the entrepreneurs to decide to adapt the Uber model for delivery logistics.
When a user requests a courier on WumDrop, drivers receive a trip request. Once a driver accepts, they collect and deliver the requested item, billing the user ZAR7 per kilometre (US$), 70 per cent of which goes to the driver and 30 per cent to WumDrop.
Kenya’s on-demand package delivery startup Sendy recently became the first recipient of investment from Safaricom’s US$1 million Spark Venture Fund.
Launched in September 2014, Sendy offers a marketplace for last-mile package delivery and logistics services, allowing customers to send packages and documents within Nairobi and its environs using a mobile application that connects them to motorcycle riders, and drivers of vans and pickup trucks.
According to chief executive officer (CEO) Meshack Alloys, the startup is motivated by the belief that package delivery should be “as simple as sending a text message”.
Peer-to-peer courier service Besew launched operations in Ethiopia in October, looking to disrupt the courier market through the power of the crowd.
Similar to the Uber-style service for couriers, Besew differs in that it allows users to cut down on fees paid to carriers through its social application, which allows individuals or businesses with goods that need transporting to connect with people travelling that way anyway.
The startup is self-funded so far, but is on the look-out for investment…
The most recent addition to the e-courier space is South Africa’s Rush, which launched at the end of November.
Powered by WeChat, Rush enables customers to compare couriers, prices and delivery services in real-time; and as such, choose the right courier, book, pay for and track parcel deliveries.
In addition, Rush also provides the option to take insurance on parcels, underwritten by Hollard Insurance, as well as offering a large-scale service designed for businesses that courier more than 200 parcels per month, known as Rush for Business.
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