Gozem, a brilliant app that gives a number of companies — together with transport, e-commerce and monetary companies in Francophone Africa — has raised $5 million in Sequence A financing, the corporate confirmed to FiratNews.
The Togo- and Singapore-based firm acquired funding from AAIC, Thunes (TransferTo), Momentum Ventures (SMRT), Innoport Ventures (Schulte Group), CMC Ventures (Nationwide Specific) and Liil Ventures (Mobility ADO).
It follows the $7 million raised in earlier seed rounds by way of three tranches from traders akin to U.S. agency Plug and Play Ventures, Launch Africa, BANSEA and Digital Community. In complete, the multi-vertical utility has raised over $12 million.
Gozem was based by Gregory Costamagna, Raphael Dana and Emeka Ajene. The startup kicked off operations in Togo in 2018 as a bike ride-hailing service.
A plan to duplicate the mannequin of Seize and Gojek in Southeast Asia noticed Gozem broaden its transport verticals to incorporate taxi and tricycle companies throughout a number of cities in Togo and Benin.
Because the pandemic hit, the platform halted its geographic growth strikes and went vertical. It launched e-commerce and logistics performs, permitting retailers to checklist a list of merchandise customers need and get them delivered by its drivers.
Then the corporate launched an asset financing possibility for its drivers, using a lease-to-own mannequin for automobiles and related gear.
On a name with the founders, the chairman, Costamagna, stated the three verticals work collectively to extend the disposable earnings of drivers. Gozem’s premise is that it creates a win-win scenario whereby its drivers turn into the following middle-class inhabitants in Francophone Africa whereas its tremendous app plans take impact flawlessly.
“So individuals [merchants, suppliers, companies] that discover numerous curiosity working with them [riders], will then work laborious and supply numerous completely different companies to our buyer base,” he stated.
“And after we do that, we improve their disposable earnings by sending them extra passengers, extra supply journeys by including extra retailers on our platform and discovering corporations that need to use supply companies. We additionally scale back their price of operation by asset financing as a result of they don’t have any formal various and it’s typically casual and costly.”
Since Gozem began the lease mannequin, it has supplied as much as 1,500 automobiles to drivers. Costamagna, in a press release, stated the funding will assist Gozem improve the determine to over 200,000 earlier than 2025.
Now that Gozem is current throughout 13 cities, having moved to Gabon and Cameroon with over 800,000 registered customers and accomplished greater than 5 million journeys, the founders say the corporate is setting sights on offering digital banking companies and lending to its customers.
It’s a mannequin different tremendous app corporations throughout Africa have adopted prior to now, akin to Nigeria’s OPay (which has since shelved its tremendous app plans to strengthen its monetary companies arm) and SafeBoda extra just lately. Different gamers like North Africa-focused Yassir are additionally seeking to supply banking and fee companies.
Gozem plans to make use of its current community of market customers (drivers and retailers) as brokers throughout all of the cities it operates in. This manner, particular person customers can change money for cellular cash by way of the Gozem app.
“I believe now we have a incredible differentiator. Usually talking, our opponents are the telco, which presents cellular cash companies, and generally you might have standalone digital wallets as nicely,” stated Costamagna. “What we’re attempting to supply is an built-in pockets resolution that’s included in a collection of various companies. And so the important thing distinction out there is that this.
Earlier than Francophone Africa minted its first unicorn within the type of fintech startup Wave, which shed some mild on the alternatives that abound out there, Francophone Africa has been largely ignored of the tech and startup disruption sweeping throughout different African areas, notably in Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt. It was the very purpose why the founders began Gozem within the first place, they informed me.
“Virtually 95% of the cash and the eye goes to at all times 4, 5 international locations in Africa … Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt,” stated Dana. “However typically, Francophone Africa is a bit left on the aspect on all the numerous traction. That is the place we’ve seen the large alternatives in Francophone as a pleasant market.”
And having constructed corporations in Singapore earlier than Gozem, Dana and Costamagna introduced Ajene on board, including his on-the-ground African experience to a workforce with huge information of the Southeast Asian market.
Three years in, Gozem is now 250-staff sturdy in its 4 markets. The corporate will use the Sequence A financing to broaden into extra Francophone African international locations, together with the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Senegal and Ivory Coast. The corporate can be seeking to enhance its asset financing mannequin whereas absolutely launching its monetary companies.
“The place we function on the continent is type of what some may name second-tier African markets. However now we have a possibility and imagine within the mannequin we’re pursuing. It’s actually a large berth the place there’s lesser competitors, as mentioned throughout all our verticals. Whereas we’re working in 4 international locations, we need to be embedded throughout the area over the following yr,” Ajene stated.