Togo and Singapore-based “super” app Gozem, that provides users with a range of services that includes e-commerce, transportation and financial services has closed its Series A funding round at $5 million. Operational in francophone Africa, Gozem’s recently-concluded funding round saw the participation of investors like Liil Ventures, CMC Ventures, Innoport Ventures, Momentum Ventures, Thunes and AAIC.
The Series A funding round follows a series of seed rounds that saw the company raise about $7 million from investors such as Launch Africa, BANSEA, Virtual Network, Play Ventures and US’ Plug. In total, Gozem has raised a total of at least $12 million across several funding rounds.
Founded by Gregory Costamagna, Emeka Ajene and Raphael Dana, the company started operating in Togo as a motorcycle ride-hailing service in 2018. The company, shortly after, expanded to start providing tricycle and taxi services across cities in Togo and Benin.
The company is big on expansion but the Coronavirus pandemic pushed down on most of its plans but there was another opportunity looming in the dark. The company started offering e-commerce and logistics services, delivering goods and services through its drivers. Thanks to the pandemic it was a successful venture. The company subsequently launched an asset financing plan for its drivers, giving them the opportunity to own vehicles through a lease-to-own plan.
The company’s Chairman and co-founder Gregory Costamagna stated that the three verticals – mobility, e-commerce and financial services, work collectively to increase drivers’ disposable income, making it a win situation irrespective of lingering challenges. “…And when we do this, we increase their disposable income by sending them more passengers, more delivery trips by adding more merchants on our platform and finding companies that want to use delivery services. We also reduce their cost of operation through asset financing because they have no formal alternative and it’s generally informal and expensive”, he said.
In a statement, he also added that the lease-to-own model which Gozem operates has provided at least 1,500 vehicles to drivers and the company wants to grow the figure to 200,000 by 2025.
Gozem wants to push its financial services further. Present across 13 francophone speaking African cities, Gozem has almost a million registered users and have completed over 5 million trips. The plan is to use its existing network of users – drivers and merchants, as agents across the cities it operates in to offer financial services. “I think we have a fantastic differentiator. Generally speaking, our competitors are the telco, which offers mobile money services, and sometimes you have standalone digital wallets as well. What we’re trying to offer is an integrated wallet solution that is included in a suite of different services. And so the key difference in the market is this”, Gozem’s chairman said.
According to co-founder Raphael Dana, Gozem focuses on francophone Africa because the attention on the African startup space have always been focused away from the aforementioned parts and on majorly Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa and Egypt, which are all Anglophone speaking countries. The reason for founding Gozem and focusing on francophone Africa is because the spotlight has always been away from these parts, he disclosed. “Almost 95% of the money and the attention goes to always four, five countries in Africa … Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, Egypt. But generally, Francophone Africa is a bit left on the side on all the significant traction. This is where we’ve seen the big opportunities in Francophone as a nice market”, he said.
“Where we operate on the continent is kind of what some might call second-tier African markets. But we have an opportunity and believe in the model we’re pursuing. It’s really a wide berth where there’s lesser competition, as discussed across all our verticals. While we are operating in four countries, we want to be embedded across the region over the next year”, co-founder Emeka Ajene, who is an experts at startups and markets, said.
Gozem has a huge potential for growth. It currently employs 250 workers across the four countries it operates and will be able to expand as well as offer more services with the funds it acquired from its Series A funding round. Experts are also saying that Gozem is one of the African startups to look out for in the coming years.