Nigerian freight management startup OnePort 365 has raised $5 million in a seed funding round led by Toyota Tsusho’s VC arm Mobility54 and CFAO Group. The round also saw the participation of other investors namely SBI Investment, ODX, Flexport, Samurai Incubate, and several angel investors.
The freight management sector is characterized by challenges, especially in the continent of Africa where congestion at ports, inadequate process, the inefficiency of service providers, high costs, irregularity with payments, poor documentation, etc., are prevalent.
Startups like OnePort 365 are rising to tackle these issues. Launched in 2019 and founded by Hio Sola-Usidame, the startup addresses the challenges faced by businesses in the freight management world.
The idea to start OnePort 365 came from personal experiences and challenges faced by CEO Hio Sola-Usidame while working in the freight forwarding space. According to him processes usually took about 10 to 14 days and are hugely operated manually. “Typically, these guys have to deal with as much as 10 different middlemen. The way it works is this, there are probably about six different channels involved–you have a trucking phase, you have a customs brokerage, you have a terminal, you have a shipment, you have a warehouse, and then you have marine insurance. As of today, I can tell you 80% of transactions are very much offline,” he explained.
According to OnePort 365’s CEO, three out of every ten trucks past the trucking phase gets lost after leaving Nigerian ports and this can be blamed on poor and in many cases non-existent tracking systems. “What you’re seeing is a situation whereby cargo worth $100,000 is being hauled by a truck driver earning $400, and as a result, there’s a lot of theft that goes on because there’s no visibility,” he explained.
If you can track your UPS parcel worth less than $100, why can’t the guy loading $100,000 worth of cargo in a container track where this container is in Africa?” he asked.
He also spoke on how shippers use different payments across singular channels and how documentation in the African freight management space is still very much manual with how advanced technology is today.
OnePort 365 provides freight management solutions using end-to-end digitalization methods via its platform. It aims to solve the challenges faced by businesses in the freight management space in Africa. In a statement, it claims to be building an operating system for cross-border trade in Africa, assisting traders and businesses to manage their freight forwarding process, and providing other integral value-added services. OnePort 365 is currently operational in Nigeria and Ghana.
Oneport 365’s CEO claims that the startup reduces booking time which takes between 10 and 14 days to mere minutes. Using its platform, traders and businesses can manage entire processes such as shipping, inland transportation, visibility, and payments, conveniently and in real-time.
“For us, we had experience running this in the traditional space before OnePort365, and it’s a massive edge that gives us a lot of experience and having a good understanding of the space, and that’s what’s led us to significant growth in that period,” the startup’s CEO explained.
OnePort 365 which was bootstrapped by its founder in the first year has increased the number of twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEUs) by 140% and grew its revenue by more than 420% last year. Its business customers have also grown to 50 from 5.
OnePort 365 covers air freight, ocean freight, inland haulage, warehousing, marine insurance, and customs brokerage.
“There is great potential to unlock significant commercial opportunities across the continent by addressing the longstanding challenges that have made it difficult to move freights into and around the continent, and we are confident that OnePort 365 has what it takes to succeed,” said Takeshi Watanabe, CEO of Mobility 54 Investment SAS said in a statement.
The new funding will be invested in hiring adequate talent and fueling expansion plans to three new countries in Africa.