Internet giant Google has made good of its commitment to inject funds to drive the growth of African tech startups. SafeBoda, a Ugandan-Nigerian startup, has received the first investment from Google’s Africa Investment Fund initiative.
It is, however, unclear at this time how much Google invested in the company.
It now serves over 1 million users in Uganda and Nigeria with rides, parcel delivery, food and retail, payments, savings, and other financial services. The company has over 25,000 drivers who have processed over 40 million orders in combined markets.
SafeBoda is a venture-backed startup with GoVentures (Gojek), Allianz X, Unbound, Beenext, and Justin Kan as investors. SafeBoda’s expansion in Uganda and Nigeria will be aided by Google’s investment, which will allow the company to scale its transportation-focused software to offer new payment and financial services solutions to its growing number of clients, including passengers, drivers, and merchants.
One of the co-founders, Ricky Rapa Thomson, commented on the investment, saying:
“SafeBoda welcomes Google to their community and are excited to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in the Boda 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 startups working towards these goals”.
SafeBoda’s operations are based in Uganda and Ibadan, Nigeria. Last year, the bike-hailing startup reported it had completed 100,000 rides in Nigeria. The accomplishment comes barely three months after the company began operations in Ibadan. It also stated that it would cease operations in Kenya on November 27, 2020.
SafeBoda’s departure from Kenya comes after two years of operations in the country. In 2018, the East African country’s ride-hailing business began, enrolling over 4,000 Bodas and completing millions of rides.
About Google Africa Investment Fund
The African Investment Fund is part of Google’s larger aim to support Africa’s digital revolution. The platform was launched in October at Google for Africa event by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet.
Only two months ago, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichal announced intentions to invest $1 billion in “tech-led projects” over the next five years, including a $50 million Africa Investment Fund targeting early and growth stage African firms.
Google has trained over 6 million people in 25 African countries. Over 60% of participants have seen growth in their career or business due to the participation. Google has also invested over $16 million in over 50 organisations across Africa, allowing hundreds of millions of Africans to access the internet for the first time through Android.
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director of Google in Africa, commented on the development, saying that the business is excited to make its first investment.
“I am thrilled about our first investment from the $50M 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,” he said.
Google also recently launched the Black Founders Fund, a non-dilutive $3 million fund that would invest in 50 startups each year.