Nigeria and Uganda based SafeBoda has become the first beneficiary of the $50 million Africa Investment Fund set up by global tech giant, Google.
It represents a fulfilment of Google’s mission to expand its footprint in Africa through investments in startups and scale-ups as this comes in the form of reaching a milestone in that direction for the tech giant.
The SafeBoda investment is done along with other investors, including GoVentures (GoJek), Allianz X, Unbound, Beenext, and Justin Kan and SafeBoda is said to be having a huge impact on millions in its markets.
The company will be scaling its transport-led app to offer new payment and financial services solutions for its expanding set of customers, drivers, passengers and merchants.
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This investment marks the first investment by Google from the plans revealed by Sundar Pichai, its chief executive officer in October, about launching a $1 billion investment fund into Africa in 5 years.
Africa is home to 700,000 developers and venture capital funding for startups decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, but with a record $4 billion in equity funding raised in 2021, according to Partech Ventures Africa.
Consequently, digital startups in Africa are driving innovation in fast-growing sectors, including fintech, healthtech, media and entertainment, e-commerce, e-mobility, and e-logistics, contributing to Africa’s growing Internet gross domestic product (iGDP), which is defined as the Internet’s contribution to GDP.
However, the Africa Investment Fund is part of a broader plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa. Through this fund, Google will invest $50 million in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build impactful products for their communities.
Per the investment by Google, SafeBoda was launched in 2017 to connect passengers to their community of safer and over 25,000 trusted drivers in its community using its transport-led super app offerings for rides, parcel delivery, food and shop, payments and savings.
The app has completed over 40 million orders to date and is still growing its young and energetic team in both Uganda and Nigeria with over a million customers. The startup has worked with several organisations to create an impact on road safety and financial inclusion. Some of these organisations include Shell Foundation, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Women and the Global Road Safety Partnership, among many others.
Ricky Rapa Thomson, one of the co-founders of SafeBoda, said: “SafeBoda welcomes Google to their community and is excited to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in the Boda (motorcycle taxi driver in East Africa) or okada (West Africa) industry. As a former Boda driver in Kampala, I know that we are the lifeblood of Africa’s cities and we power economic development. SafeBoda is thrilled that leading global companies such as Google see the importance of backing start-ups working towards these goals.”
Also, Nitin Gajria, managing director for Google in Africa added: “I am thrilled about our first investment from the $50 million Africa Investment Fund that we announced two months ago. This is part of our ongoing commitment to tech startups in Africa. I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and entrepreneurs. We look forward to announcing subsequent investments in other startups.”