SafeBoda, an Uber for Motorcycles in Africa has added food, delivery and payments to its platform, just weeks after launching in Nigeria, in a move that helps it complete the journey of becoming Africa’s super app, like its Asian counterpart Go-Jek.
SafeBoda, a safe and secure motorcycle-taxi experience began its life in November 2014 in Kampala with just 20 drivers and most people kept dismissing them (including us-yes, we were wrong) but the team’s less-press more-work attitude has seen them grow, beating global competitors such as Uber, Bolt who also have motorcycle hailing in their apps.
Living and working in Kampala for a few years, I saw the chaos associated with motorcycle drivers firsthand. Motorcycles aka Boda were the unsafest means anyone would ever use, yet the fastest to get around the city’s traffic jam.
Peace and safety in chaos
Away from the chaos, there was a ready market for safe motorcycle hailing services in Uganda, East Africa’s king of Motorcycle rides and ownership. And SafeBoda focused on that as its primary business. SafeBoda brought safety and security to a service seen as reckless, savage and precarious. Safety more than doubled the addressable market for both online and offline Boda users in a country that is estimated to have the highest rate of unemployment in Africa.
With around $380,000 raised between September 2015 and March 2016 from Development Innovation Ventures (DIV) and Global Innovation Fund, SafeBoda keenly trained cohorts of drivers in Kampala and its environs and helped train them to use its mobile application and with bits of customer service.
With its first batch of DIV funding, the firm deployed over 1,225 drivers and expanded across Kampala. The next phase was for safety measures by encouraging drivers and passengers to use helmets. Safeboda invested heavily in its drivers-trained them in first-aid, road safety, customer service, and motorbike maintenance. With that, it saw an increase in helmet adoption by 70% among passengers and 100% among drivers and a subsequent increase in boda drivers revenues by 50%.
East Africa, West Africa then India and LatAm
First-forward 2019, SafeBoda is not only operational in East Africa but has launched in Kenya, Tanzania, Nigeria, and is expanding across the continent like a bushfire for both Android or iOS users. In Kenya, it’s launching in the country’s coastal city, Mombasa.
Now, by going into food ordering, general deliveries and payments and soon loans and insurance, SafeBoda is completing the circle it started to be Africa’s biggest super app. The hint that SafeBoda was going all the way was when it raised funding and said it will be venturing heavily into mobile payments and insurance and a final launch in India and emerging markets. There is a likelihood that SafeBoda will take on LatAm markets from its Barcelona tech hub.
Seven months ago, SafeBoda raising an undisclosed Series B round co-led by Allianz X, the digital investment unit of the Allianz Group, Go-Ventures, an arm of GO-JEK. During the investment, Oliver Ullrich, Corporate Development Director at Allianz X said: “SafeBoda has successfully established itself in the ride-hailing market in Uganda and we look forward to supporting the company’s expansion into additional countries and services.”
The additional countries and services are on course and this is SafeBoda completing that circle with the launch in Kenya and Nigeria and introduction of food, delivery, and payments and of course, insurance as Allianz said it intended to leverage SafeBoda’s Africa presence to transform transportation, logistics, and payment sectors in Africa.
“Our investment in SafeBoda underlines our continued commitment to growth markets. We are excited to participate in the development of ride-hailing ecosystems in Africa,” said Oliver Ullrich, Corporate Development Director at Allianz X.
Alastair Sussock, Co-CEO and Co-Founder of SafeBoda said collaborating with Allianz will enable SafeBoda to grow the business and impact the wider community across East and West Africa and, he meant it.
“SafeBoda is excited to have Allianz X join our investor group, particularly as we deepen our platform and add a number of important FinTech services for both SafeBoda drivers and passengers,” he said.
SafeBoda is not launching in a vacuum in Nigeria-but that’s a story for another day as Nigeria has all sorts of players, some after user data, some after really serving the biggest population in Africa.
Max wants the market and has a $6 million injection from Novastar Ventures, Yamaha Motor Co. Ltd, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Zrosk Investment Management, and Goodwell Investments plus $1 million in grants. Gokada too wants a share of the market with a $5.3m Series A funding round. OPay, Opera’s fintech platform recently raised a $120 million Series B round to expand its product portfolio as well as expand across Africa. OPay in June raised $50 million to double down on Nigeria. CanGo can not be left out in this Africa super app race.
The SafeBoda Wallet
With these new products and new markets, SafeBoda’s new phase is insurance and loans via its SafeBoda Wallet is already being used by riders and passengers. According to Coenraad Vrolijk, CEO of Allianz Africa, “SafeBoda is a promising start-up with substantial growth potential, including the development of relevant financial services and insurance products.”