Silicon Valley Investors Help Raise $6M For Nigeria’s ‘Uber For Trucks’

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Silicon Valley investors Western Technology Investment and Y Combinator contributed to a $6 million funding round for Nigerian e-logistics platform Kobo360.

The equity investment round was led by the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group, with participation from the Silicon Valley duo alongside African institutional investors Cardinal Stone Partners, Chandaria Capital and  TLcom Capital, according to Ventureburn.

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The Kobo360 platform helps connect the supply of trucks with the demand for transportation services by cargo owners in Nigeria, and is essentially an ‘Uber for trucks’ concept.

The company has over 5,000 trucks on its platform, serving some of the largest enterprises in Nigeria.

This investment is expected to go towards expanding that number to 20,000 trucks and providing the service to companies in West African markets including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Senegal and Togo, as these were objectives the Nigerian platform made clear at the start of 2018, according to Techcrunch.

This $6 million funding round builds on a $1.2 million pre-seed investment raised by Kobo360 earlier in the year from U.S.-based Western Technology Investment, according to Pulse.

That investment was realized while the Nigerian platform was preparing to take part in the Y Combinator accelerator program in July. Silicon Valley-based tech incubator Y Combinator is perhaps the world’s most powerful startup accelerator program.

Silicon Valley investors
Silicon Valley investors contributed to a $6 million funding round Nigerian ‘Uber for trucks’ platform Kobo360. Image – AP Photo – Schalk van Zuydam

Lead investor in the current round, the International Finance Corporation, is a Washington D.C.-based global development institution and member of the World Bank Group focused exclusively on the private sector in developing countries.

Africa-focused TLcom Capital is a venture capital firm with offices in Lagos, Nairobi and London which has previously been involved in Andela‘s $40 million funding round, as well as Kenyan mobile survey platform mSurvey‘s Series A funding round of $3.5 million, which it led.

Both TLcom Capital and the International Finance Corporation were involved in a recent $10 million Series B funding round for Kenyan mobile produce platform Twiga Foods, according to a press release.

Y Combinator among prolific Silicon Valley investors

In addition to the Kobo360 funding round, Y Combinator has been involved in a number of African funding success stories in recent years.

In July Francophone social impact fund Gaia made an investment in Senegalese solar startup Oolu, a Y Combinator graduate in 2015, according to Weetracker.

The investment amount was not made public, but it was part of a Series B round of funding for the West African off-grid solar startup.

In 2017 Oolu raised $3.2 million in a Series A round of funding led by Swiss-based impact ventures investment firm Persistent Energy Capital (PEC), with the participation of Y Combinator and other seed investors, according to PVTech.

Last year Y Combinator-backed Ghanaian media startup OMG Digital raised $1.1 million in seed funding to help fulfil its growing reputation as the “BuzzFeed of Africa”, Techpoint reported.

Another success story is Nigerian fintech startup Flutterwave, which provides a modern transaction infrastructure that is designed to allow payments to be made and accepted via mobile.

Following their time as part of the Y Combinator program, the startup raised over $10 million in a Series A funding round during 2017, according to iAfrikan.

Kobo360 is the latest addition to the International Finance Corporation’s venture capital portfolio with a focus on e-mobility startups numerous global markets including BlackBuck in India, Full Truck Alliance in China, Brazilian companies Loggi and Mandae, and PickMe in Sri Lanka, according to Techmoran.

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