Kobo360 is looking to change the way the logistics sector operates by lowering costs and enhancing customer satisfaction supporting thousands of freight companies deliver their goods to cargo recipients across the region.
By Brian Yatich
Back in the days, things in the logistics space was different; customers had to wait for their cargo in harsh environments coupled with extreme weather conditions as they constantly staring at their watches making frantic calls to truck and cargo drivers who say they are almost reaching the destination for the past 30 minutes.
Things are however changing.
Business among logistic firms all over the world is broadening and getting highly competitive as time goes by as a result of increased technology use. With this progressive growth, there is an increased need for user friendly tools and software packages to support a timely and accurate collection and reporting of logistics management information.
Today, it has become easier for logistics firms to track inventory all thanks to e-logistics systems and systems that track how supplies are being transported from suppliers to their firm and also when distributing to the end consumer from just a click of a button.
When Kobo360 started operations, the logistics sector in Africa was in a dire state with indistinct pricing and interference from exploitative middlemen. More so in some regions in Africa, it could take days, if not weeks to move goods across the country causing businesses to lose money.
Kobo360 is disrupting the US $150 billion Africa logistics industry, which, according to the firm still mostly relies on telephones, opaque pricing and full of expensive middlemen.
The digital logistics platform aggregates end-to-end shipping operations to help cargo owners, drivers, truck owners, and cargo recipients achieve an efficient supply chain framework.
“Kobo360 has been in Kenya for 5 months since March, with access to over 3000 trucks and truck owners, our presence in Kenya means we are in a position to leverage on the nation’s high technology adoption rate in order to fuel logistics in East Africa and beyond,” Kagure Wamunyu, Kobo360 CEO Africa Region says.
Kobo360 services, Wamuyu acknowledges would lead to a 20 per cent reduction in logistics costs by matching the user’s request with a selection of quality trucks of all categories within 6 hours.
Already, Kobo360 has been able to move Cargo 15 million tonnes as they eye a piece of the 13 million cargo hold handled at the port of Mombasa which has direct access to over 80 ports worldwide.
With Kenyan having the largest port in East Africa, serving as a gateway to other East African markets Wamuyu points out that Kobo360 presence in Kenya means that they are in a position to leverage on the nation’s high technology adoption rate in order to fuel logistics in East Africa and beyond.
“We are growing especially with the high technology adoption rate observed here in Kenya, and now with the implementation of the recent Africa Free Trade Continental Agreement (ACFTA) the market is set to grow; we will move cargo from the south to the northern tip of Africa,” she says.
The Nigerian-based firm is also planning to add 25,000 drivers to the platform in the coming months in a bid to scale up and to significantly broaden their reach in Africa especially now with ACFTA where trade barriers and friction on Pan-African commercial activity would have been removed.
With this anticipation, Kobo360 is also looking to expand operations to 10 new countries by the end of 2020 surpassing its current footprint in Uganda, Kenya, Nigeria, Togo and Ghana.
To set the logistic firm ahead of the pack from its competitors like Lorri systems, Kobo360 has developed a suite of driver-focused products to support the over 10,000 drivers on its platform.
“We have KoPAY which offers access to up to US$5,000 monthly working capital, we also have KoboSAFE, which gives access to insurance product for drivers; as well as KoboCARE which gives access to discounted petrol, comprehensive all health services packages and also an incentive-based education programme for drivers’ families,” Wamuyu says.
Last year, MarketLine research reported that the e-logistics and transport space is growing in Africa, estimating the value of Nigeria’s transportation sector at $6 billion in 2016, with 99.4 percent comprising road freight.
Wamuyu is positive that they will capture this market in order to support the thousands of freight companies who require a safe, reliable and cost-effective delivery of their goods to cargo recipients across the region.
The freight logistics startup reported that it has been able to raise US$20 million in a series A funding round led by Goldman Sachs. An additional US$10 million was also raised from Nigerian commercial banks which have been earmarked as working capital.
“The investment will be used to help Kobo360 continue to scale, develop its technology offering, accelerate supply growth and also power our expansion across Africa,” Wamuyu says.
Since its launch in Lagos in 2017, Kobo360 has continued to grow its product offerings, VC backing and customer base. The startup claims a fleet of more than 10,000 drivers and trucks operating on its app. Top clients include Honeywell, Olam, Unilever, Dangote and DHL.
Local investors include Chandaria Capital, Y Combinator, TLcom Capital, WTI, and International Finance Corporation (IFC). The firm’s Logistics partners here in Kenya include Bidco Africa, Union Logistics limited, and Intraspeed ARCPRO Kenya LTD.
“Challenges are always there, especially when the trucks are in terrains where there are no signals, but what else can we do? Challenges are always there, but so far so good,”
Since launch of operations in Kenya five months ago, the startup has been able to move over 297 million kilogrammes of goods and serviced over 1450 businesses with the firms aggregated fleet of over 10 000 drivers and trucks.
Kobo360, according to the company claims to cover 80 per cent of Nigeria and says it has recorded a 40 per cent cost reduction in the supply chain.
“We are always expanding; we are now keen on growing to Tanzania and Rwanda in East Africa in the near future,” she says.
The firm was named the “Disrupter of the Year” at the highly acclaimed Africa CEO Forum Awards 2019.
“We anticipate strengthening our links across this region, which will bring us closer to building our Global Logistics Operating System (G-LOS) to ensure fast and low-cost movement of goods for businesses on the continent,” Wamuyu concludes.