Uganda’s Ride-Hailing Startup SafeBoda Secures Funding From GOJEK And Allianz X

By  |  May 8, 2019

Uganda-based ride-hailing startup SafeBoda has secured an unspecified amount of investment in a Series B round co-led by Indonesia’s ride-hailing company GOJEK and Allianz X, the digital investment arm of global insurance group Allianz.

Another One For The Road

The Kampala-headquartered logistics firm secured part of the investment from GOJEK via its VC arm G-Ventures. SafeBoda which launched in July last year offers on-demand ride-hailing services in Uganda alongside Kenya. Not only this, but the firm also provides a variety of consumer and payment services. Going by ride-sharing money-raising standards, the amount of the investment could very well reach seven figures.

The company which was founded in April 2015, is usually quiet about its investment sizes. However, Crunchbase reports that the startup has raised USD 1.1 Mn across three rounds, with the latest being an undisclosed investment in January of 2018. While the investment marks the first African venture for Allianz X, it had previously invested USD 35 Mn in GOJEK in Indonesia.

An Allianz X statement described SafeBoda as “A major African ride-hailing platform”. With this affirmation, it is expected that the firm will replicate the model GOJEK employed in Indonesia by making an app available for its services.

Revving For Nigeria

This funding development comes at a time when all fingers are crossed for SafeBoda’s expansion into other markets, with Nigeria as its initial pick. The bike-sharing firm is reported to be winding down with its preparations to enter the most populous black nation, barely a year after it took its operations to Kenya.

Babajide Duroshola Quits Andela to Help Uganda’s SafeBoda Expand into Nigeria:
Andela’s first Community Manager, Babajide Duroshola has announced his resignation from the engineering startup. Since 2016, he has been the brain behind Andela’s thriving co…— Afro Hustler (@theafrohustler) May 7, 2019

As the West African country runs one of Africa’s largest economies, the decision is a good one, and the funding could not have come at a better time.

Planning to make its Nigerian inroad via Lagos, the firm exclusively revealed that it had appointed Babajide Duroshola as its Country Head. The appointee previously worked with Andela Nigeria where he served as Community Manager at the firm’s Technical Talent arm.

Speaking about the expansion to Nigeria and appointment, the firm said: “We’re exploring Lagos, and other markets and Babajide is leading the efforts for SafeBoda in Nigeria.”

Benjamin Dada reported that Babajide said:, “It’s more than a ride-hailing company to me. The brand has an aura of emotion which I felt when I had my onsite with them. They’ve changed how people perceive Boda drivers in Uganda and how they perceive themselves. And I’m looking to help them replicate that in Nigeria, starting in Lagos.”

Trouble For GoKade And Co?

SafeBoda is deviating from its own norm by beginning its Nigerian operations to Lagos. The startup launched in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi and later expanded to Kampala, the Ugandan capital in 2018. By not taking on Abuja, SafeBoda is heading to the West African country’s commercial nerve, where other ride-hailing firms already have strong footing, especially GoKada and MAX.

After the @SafeBoda Rides, I was imagining how safe our roads would be if the Government of Uganda implemented the #RoadSafety measures #SafeBoda use, for all Boda-bodas to use countrywide.— Paul Okello (@opaul42) May 7, 2019

MAX opened its first chapter in Nigeria in 2015 and has since then been able to garner more than 500 drivers on its platform, recording over 300,000 trips within the same timeframe. Putting that into perspective, SafeBoda’s has scored more than 600 drivers in less than a year of expansion to Kenya.

The real threat to SafeBoda is GoKada, who boasts of 1,000 riders since its launch in 2018. Because both companies are backed by the same investor – South Africa’s CRE Ventures – there are rising opinions that SafeBoda and GoKada could coexist mutually as ride-hailing siblings.

Yea, there are strong competitors especially Gokada and MAX, but I believe SafeBoda has the experience + resources to make a name for themselves too.— Nkenu Timothy (@NkenuTimothy) May 5, 2019

But if funding rounds are a show of force, SafeBoda seems to blow GoKada out of the water. The Lagos entrant could have raised up to USD 2 Mn if its undisclosed investments are roughly added to the mix. SafeBoda also has multi-regional experience, skilled talents and a more coordinated team making up its upper hand.

Techpoint Africa reported last month that GoKada – who has raised just USD 337 K – lost its CEO, Deji Oduntan, after he reportedly abdicated his seat. The only obtainable reason for the development was a piece of unconfirmed information which said that mismanagement and strife amongst members of the team had taken its toll on the company.

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