eCommerce startup Gozem raises US$5m Series A funding for its super app

TOGOGozem, a West African-based eCommerce startup which offers ride-hailing, logistics, food delivery, and fintech services, has raised US$5 million in Series A funding.

Togo and Singapore-based AIC, Thunes (TransferTo), Momentum Ventures (SMRT), Innoport Ventures (Schulte Group), CMC Ventures (National Express), and Liil Ventures (Mobility ADO) invested in the latest round.

According to a statement, the financing will assist Gozem reach a population of over 200,000 people by 2025.

“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,” co-founder and CEO Emeka Ajene, said.

“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.”

The latest investment follows a US$7 million initial round raised in three tranches from investors including Plug and Play Ventures, Launch Africa, BANSEA, and Virtual Network in the United States. The multi-vertical application has raised more than US$12 million in total.

The startup has acquired considerable traction since it was founded three years ago. With over 800,000 registered users and more than 5 million journeys completed, Gozem has recently also expanded to Gabon and Cameroon, and is present in 13 major cities. Gozem has also offered up to 1,500 vehicles to drivers since launching its vehicle lease model.

The startup’s conversion into a super app, with a major focus on fintech services, is also instrumental in deciding the size of the latest investment.

Gregory Costamagna, Raphael Dana, and Emeka Ajene founded Gozem. As a motorbike ride-hailing service, the company began operations in Togo in 2018.

Gozem expanded its transportation verticals to include taxi and tricycle services in numerous cities in Togo and Benin as part of a bid to emulate the Grab and Gojek model in Southeast Asia.

“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,” said Costamagna.

“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.”

As the virus spread, the platform ceased its regional expansion and shifted its focus vertically. It pioneered e-commerce and logistics, letting merchants to post an inventory of things that customers demand and have them delivered by its drivers.

The company then offered its drivers an asset finance option, using a lease-to-own model for automobiles and related equipment.

The firm’s founders say the company is also focusing on delivering digital financial services and loans to its users.

To make this happen, in all of the cities where Gozem operates, the company wants to employ its current network of marketplace users (drivers and merchants) as agents. Individual users can use the Gozem app to trade cash for mobile money in this way.

After three years, Gozem now employs 250 people across four countries.

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