Uber Competitor Sets Sights On Francophone Africa Expansion

Avatar
Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Paris-based Uber competitor Heetch has raised $38 million in Series B funding to expand its operations across francophone Africa.

The ride-hailing firm is already doing business in Morocco and Ivory Coast, and aims to launch in Cameroon, Algeria, and Senegal in 2019, according to ITWebAfrica.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 38: Tony Effik

Jamarlin talks to Tony Effik, SVP of Client Strategy at NBCUniversal, about where the digital media business is going. Tony talks about directing strategy across the largest multi-billion dollar media portfolio, opportunities with subscriptions, and the business of podcasting.

In its European markets, France and Belgium, Heetch uses casual drivers and operates only late night until dawn, when public transit shuts down and taxis are scarce in the city and non-existent in the suburbs.

The company raised the $38 million investment to expand its services across French-speaking West Africa.

The funding was led by Cathay Innovation, a subsidiary of Paris-based private equity firm Cathay Capital, and Total Ventures, the venture capital arm of French energy firm Total, which focuses on investments in developing countries, according to Techcrunch.

Existing shareholders including French private equity and VC firms Idinvest Partners and Innov’Allianz, tech-focused Paris-based investment firms Alven and Felix Capital, and French incubator and investment company Via-ID participated.

This investment brings the total amount raised by Heetch to $70.5 million since 2017, Crunchbase reports.

Francophone Africa
Heetch is a French ride-hailing company hoping to make an impact in francophone Africa. AP Photo – Jacques Brinon

The startup was founded in 2013 by Teddy Pellerin and Jacob Matthieu to address a gap in the Paris market where those going out late at night did not have public transport or a taxi company to rely on, Menabytes reports.

Heetch to focus on francophone Africa

While Uber is a competitor to Heetch in Europe, the francophone markets where Heetch is looking to establish have largely been ignored by Uber in favor of English-speaking sub-Saharan African or Arabic North African countries, according to Uber’s website.

Even in West Africa, Uber is only present in English-speaking Nigeria and Ghana.

Ride-hailing firm Bolt, formerly Taxify, is not a competitor for Heetch in francophone markets. Its presence is restricted to South Africa, Kenya, Nigeria, Ghana, Tanzania and Uganda for the moment.

With Heetch’s main European competitors not focused on French-speaking Africa, Heetch will likely face some competition from local startups that may not be able to match its resources or financial muscle after its latest injection of $38 million in capital.