Being an entrepreneur has always been in my blood. My entrepreneurial journey started at the age of 13 when I was in boarding school. I used my allowance to purchase a Nokia phone and charged my fellow classmates, who called their loved ones to stay connected. Not only was I able to gain financial independence at the age of 15, I was also able to create job opportunities by hiring some of my school friends. At the age of 19, I started my own logistics business, where I owned my own fleet and created job opportunities for drivers at my local truck park.
I recall my journey to say this; being an entrepreneur has always been about working hand in hand with key players to solve problems and build opportunities. Quite literally, getting from A to B. So when my co-founder, Ife Oyedele II, and I moved back to Nigeria after studying in the US and starting our careers there in corporate America, we were able to combine our set skills – logistics + tech – in order to launch Kobo360. We were united in our entrepreneurial spirit, our levels of intensity when it came to just getting things done, as well as our medium to long term wish to build a company for Africa that would have an impact – in terms of economy, in terms of affecting peoples’ lives – in fact, even in terms of building “brand Africa”.
Applying the business nous and structure we had learned in the US and subsequently applying it to solving challenges back home, in Africa, was our goal almost from day one. And what a journey it’s been. Logistics and moving goods in Africa is genuinely a hard sector to disrupt. In the West, the word “disruption” has been applied, liberally, to literally every single sector you can think of. But no one I’ve ever come across in Silicon Valley could, I believe, comprehend the mountains that Ife and I had to move when we started out in trying to drive efficiencies in the trucking logistics sector in Africa. It was never simply a case of building an app and just adding a layer of technology to the sector. We had to unravel a complex, people-first supply chain spanning thousands of miles and many, many stakeholders, and physically demonstrate, in one-one-one sessions with thousands of fleet owners and truck drivers, why our technology was going to make their business or job faster, more efficient and more profitable. We had to educate an entire sector and bring them along on the journey, proving at each and every stage how our products and services were going to enhance their lives; their bottom lines.
As anyone who’s worked in the trucking industry knows, moving goods on the continent comes with its own complexities but if the challenges can be eradicated, this sector will power the economy. Together, Ife and I have produced credible technology that offers advantages in the day-to-day routines of fleet operations by making logistics cheaper, faster, more transparent, reliable and less taxing. It goes beyond connecting all the key players in the road-based logistics supply chain; over the years, we’ve expanded our offerings by handling the process of invoicing, payments and waybill collection, as well as providing financing, insurance and discounted supplies to truck owners and drivers via our products, KoboCARE, KoboSAFE and KoPAY. Having spent years getting to know them, we’ve gone on to build products around our customers and users to make their businesses run smoother.
When we started, we focused on Nigerian logistics, but it soon became clear to Ife and I that what we were solving was not a Nigeria-specific problem, but an opportunity for Africa and emerging markets throughout the region.
In under three years, we’ve scaled Kobo360 from Nigeria to Kenya, Ghana, Togo, Uganda and very soon, we will be announcing our most recent expansions in not one market, but three. As we scale, it’s exciting to see that we’re carrying our stakeholders with us. With our growing presence, the businesses we serve – from SMEs and global brands including Procter & Gamble, DHL and Maersk – are able to seamlessly move their goods across the continent. We have increased our driver offerings and improved the lives of over twenty-three thousand drivers on our platform, by exponentially increasing their profitability through reverse logistics.
Today, I am pleased and proud to announce that Ife and I have been selected as Endeavor Entrepreneurs. The global network identifies high-impact entrepreneurs who demonstrate the potential to leverage its resources and mentorship to create large-scale wealth and jobs, and reinvest into their local entrepreneurship ecosystems. We are entrepreneurs and we work directly with other entrepreneurs who consist of fleet owners looking to get more usage of their trucks, so we understand the pain points of SMEs and companies that are scaling. So to be welcomed into a global entrepreneurial-first network such as Endeavor feels like a real landmark occasion. We were selected as part of a cohort of 10 entrepreneurs from five markets, and are joining Founders of 10 scale-up stage companies in Nigeria including Paga, Flutterwave, Carbon, Cars45, Migo among others. Being a part of Endeavor’s network is a testament to how we have reconfigured Africa’s logistics sector using the power of technology. It is a challenging mission that we have both become very good at.
COVID-19 has hit the entire world pretty hard, and Kobo360 is not immune. We’ve had to overcome many hurdles, but we are resilient. In response to the global pandemic, we accelerated the launch of our Global Logistics Operating System [G-LOS], a blockchain-enabled platform that will revolutionize supply chains across Africa and emerging markets. With Endeavor’s support, Ife and I are positioned to make invaluable global connections that could be leveraged for our expansion and growth.
What started as a startup with a bold idea is transforming into a business legacy for Africa’s future. This is a fundamental milestone not just for Ife and I as entrepreneurs, but for the company we’ve built – and we have only scratched the surface. Barely. I am excited about what the future holds and where Kobo360 is going to be in years to come. I can see it very clearly.
Kobo360. Birthed in Nigeria. Raised in Africa. Impacting the world.