Metro Africa Xpress Inc. (abbreviated as MAX) has secured $31 million in a Series B funding round and plans to use the funds to fuel its expansion plans into more African markets. The funding round was led by global private equity platform LightRock and saw the participation of Global Ventures, Novastar Ventures and Proparco. LightRock’s investment in MAX makes it its first investment in the African mobility space.
MAX, which is formalizing the transportation sector in Nigeria and extensively Africa, plans to venture into Ghana and Egypt before the first quarter of 2022 elapses. Its expansion, targeted at Francophone, Eastern and Southern Africa, into the additional markets will be concluded before the end of next year.
Apart from financing all of its expansion plans into new markets, MAX says it will use part of the funds from the just-concluded funding round to extend its vehicle financing services to at least 100,000 in the space of 24 months.
MAX has grown from where it started. In 2015, the startup operated as a delivery startup using motorcycles to make deliveries before eventually venturing into ride-hailing, and then into vehicle subscription and financial services. Its vehicle financing service which came as a complementary service began in 2018. It came as a need; according to CFO Guy-Bertrand Njoya, most of the vehicles used by their drivers were not owned by them. “It became clear that the fundamental issue that drivers face is consistent access to vehicles. And that is when we realized that if we are to be successful at solving the challenge of mobility across the continent, we have to first address the issue of vehicle access”, he explained. MAX provides vehicle financing in partnership with partner banks that require data regarding credit risk assessment from MAX. The startup was founded by Adetayo Bamiduro and Chinedu Azodoh.
MAX also plans to build electric vehicle infrastructures in its new markets, as it plans on introducing electric vehicles to its prospective clients in these new markets. Explaining this, co-founder and CEO Adetayo Bamiduro said that “It is another milestone in our journey to make mobility safe, affordable, accessible, and sustainable by deploying high-performance technologies and operators. The investment will enable us to transform the lives of hundreds of thousands of drivers across the continent, accelerate international expansion, and continue our pioneering initiatives in the mobility space”.
Introducing electric vehicles is a step aimed at reducing the operating costs of drivers and helping them grow their income. It aligns with MAX’s goal of providing assistance to drivers as well as helping them maximize their operations.
MAX currently provides vehicle financing solutions for drivers who want two, three and four-wheelers. Providing electric vehicles, which are fast taking over, would be the next step. “It’s an additional option that we wanted to provide to the drivers because what they care most about is making a decent living through increased income. For us, electric mobility is going to be a significant driver of that objective because EVs are today more cost-effective than their gas equivalents”, CFO Guy-Bertrand Njoya said.
Yamaha has been named as MAX’s partner for its electric motorcycles. Although MAX designs and assembles its own line of electric motorcycles, it will be working with leading motorcycle manufacturer Yamaha. “We work with Yamaha in the area of access to vehicles for the drivers, and in the access to finance. As a testament of the success of our work and partnership, Yamaha today has set up a dedicated driver vehicle financing entity for Africa against the backdrop of the work that we’ve been doing with them over the past couple of years”, the CFO said.