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Cars45 Expands to Ghana and Kenya

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Pan-African automotive platform launches consumer-to-consumer marketplace to match sellers and buyers

Lagos, Nigeria – 10 December 2019 – Cars45, Nigeria’s leading automotive trading platform, has launched into Ghana (www.cars45.com.gh)  and Kenya (www.cars45.co.ke). Cars45 is aiming to become the primary platform for all car transactions in the $45 billion African used car market and expansion into these strategic markets marks an important step on that journey.

In an African market where 9 million used cars are traded annually, trust is often a rare commodity as buyers and sellers navigate opaque pricing and quality assurance structures. Using its technology-enabled platform, consumers in Ghana and Kenya can now sell their cars directly through Cars45 and get paid in 45 minutes. Sellers have access to standardised pricing and a transparent marketplace, with 100 percent visibility into price offers, and buyers get access to the largest selection of verified cars. Cars45 will also provide vehicle financing, background checks, vehicle history, insurance, after-sales support, servicing and other ancillary services that consumers will need in their automotive lifecycle.

With retail locations already opened in Nairobi and Accra, Cars45 plans to increase its footprint in Ghana and Kenya even further by opening more centres in Mombasa, Takoradi and other cities. Cars45 also aims to expand into additional African markets in 2020.

In addition to its launch into these markets, Cars45 is also launching a consumer-to-consumer marketplace that directly matches sellers and buyers across all markets it operates in. In an African automotive market where trust is not traditionally high, consumers will be able to connect in a seamless and secure way, using Cars45 as a marker of professionalism and excellence.

All cars listed in the Cars45 marketplace have been through a thorough vetting process (200 point inspection, due diligence and background check) and will carry the trusted Cars45 inspection report. Cars45 will also conduct multi-level screening to ensure that only serious buyers are brought forward. Buyers will have full confidence in the purchase they are making and sellers will be protected by an escrow model.

Also Read: How this African Diaspora is keeping the tradition of African storytelling alive

According to Etop Ikpe, CEO and co-founder of Cars45, “We want to connect buyers and sellers across the continent in the most seamless way, taking the stress out of the trading experience. After successfully establishing ourselves in Nigeria, expanding into Ghana and Kenya made perfect sense as the ideal next step as we build a transparent and fair structure for trading cars on the continent.

Ikpe added that “the process of buying and selling cars today can be complicated, time-consuming and needlessly expensive. We want to put an end to that by providing an easy and convenient way for consumers across Africa to make what is often the most significant financial transaction of their lives.”

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Shelter Afrique target East African bourses, pension funds in USD500M housing bond

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Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo (Image: Supplied)

Buoyed by the successful local currency bond debut in Nigeria early this year, pan- African housing development financier Shelter Afrique is planning to tap into the East Africa capital markets and pension funds to finance affordable housing projects in the region.

Speaking in Nairobi, Shelter Afrique’s Ag. Managing Director Kingsley Muwowo disclosed that the Company was considering issuing local currency Medium Term Notes in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda.

“Already, we have opened negotiations with Kenya’s Capital Market Authority on the possibility of Shelter Afrique issuing another housing bond to support local housing projects and we plan to do the same with capital market authorities in Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. We want to approach it as an East Africa issue- meaning we’ll issue Kenya Shilling bond, Uganda and Tanzania shillings bonds, and Rwandese Franc bond, subject to availability of bankable projects in each of the markets,” Mr. Muwowo explained.

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Mr. Muwowo noted that such a strategy would make it easier for pension funds such as Kenya’s National Social Security Fund, Uganda National Social Security Fund, Rwanda Social Security Board, and Public Service Pensions Fund of Tanzania, to invest in housing projects in the region and earn decent returns.

“Our experience with the Nigerian bond debut is that pension funds present a viable option to tap funds for affordable housing projects. We equally believe they have the capacity to provide long term funding for such projects,” Mr. Muwowo said.

Shelter Afrique has had ten successful local currency bond issues in Kenya dating back to 2000s, which Mr. Muwowo says, have been successfully retired – demonstrating the Company’s strong investment rating in terms of local currency issues.

Beyond cities

Mr. Muwowo said the Company was keen on extending housing projects financing beyond major cities and into rural areas, adding that every part of the countries should be able to benefit from housing projects funding.

“At the moment, we have housing projects in cities like Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa – in the case of Kenya, or Lagos and Abuja in the case of Nigeria. Our aim is to roll out housing projects all over the countries in member States. In Kenya, for instance, we are already in talks with the National Housing Corporation to implement this,” Mr. Muwowo said.

The Company has several projects in Kenya including Everest Park Apartments, Richland Point Apartment, Karibu Homes, Pine City and Sigona Valley in Nairobi; Lake Breeze Apartments and Translakes Apartments in Kisumu; and Eden Beach Apartments and KMA Housing Apartments in Mombasa.

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Lipa Later Group Acquires Sky.Garden, One Of East Africa’s Leading E-Commerce Platforms

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Lipa Later Group, has acquired Sky.Garden in a move that re-energizes our commitment to bridging the gap between the merchant and a customer with more empowerment between both parties, merchant and customer, stellar service, stellar tech, and revamped strategies that promise to disrupt the industry.

This acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later marks an important milestone in the group’s goal to offer innovative solutions that meet the needs of businesses and consumers. This move will enable Lipa Later to expand our customer base and solidify our presence in the market.

The e-commerce industry has exploded in recent years, providing businesses with the opportunity to reach customers quickly, cheaply, and more often. This is the driving force behind the decision to invest in Sky.Garden.

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Speaking during the onboarding ceremony, Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli reiterated that the acquisition is timely as fintech continues to build an end-to-end avenue that connects merchants to customers and vice versa.

“Guided by our objective to empower African businesses and consumers to do more by enabling e-commerce, financial inclusion and shopping all on one centralized and fully integrated platform, our plan has always been to venture into e-commerce with unique value propositions for our consumers. Sky.Garden has done an incredible job and checks all those boxes. Lipa Later is no stranger to the e-commerce industry, having already established a strong presence in the online payment and finance sectors. This acquisition has greatly accelerated our plans of redefining the shopping experience for consumers,” said Lipa Later CEO Eric Muli.

Sky.Garden, which has raised north of $6,000,000 prior to this acquisition, will now be fully owned by Lipa Later Group and will continue to operate using its name.

With the acquisition of Sky.Garden, Lipa Later is now in a position to provide a comprehensive e-commerce solution to consumers, and with Sky.Garden’s established infrastructure and market presence, consumers will be able to purchase items from Sky Garden using any preferred payment method including Lipa Later’s buy now, pay later model which provides for a payment plan that is flexible and affordable through monthly instalments.

Last month, we saw no other option than to file for insolvency,” Martin Majlund, founder of Sky.Garden, reiterated. “Today, I’m happy to see that Sky Garden will live on with new owners and new management. We built a great product over time, and I believe Lipa Later has the potential to take Sky Garden to the next level. Through this acquisition, the vision of Sky Garden will continue to live on while retaining jobs and businesses on our platform.”

This acquisition is a key step forward in our goal of becoming a leader in the e-commerce space. The acquisition of Sky.Garden by Lipa Later presents a great opportunity for both companies to benefit from each other’s strengths and further the growth of the e-commerce industry. With the combination of our expertise in financial services and Sky.Garden’s innovative e-commerce platform, the potential for growth is tremendous, and the impact this could have on the industry could be immense. Expansion plans are in place to see Sky.Garden integrated across other Lipa Later countries of operation which include Rwanda, Uganda and Nigeria.

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VENCO secures $670,000 pre-seed funding

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VENCO, a technology company that provides solutions to enhance living experiences in residential and commercial communities in Africa, has secured $670,000 in an oversubscribed pre-seed funding round to scale its all-in-one technology platform that manages collections, service charge administration, utilities vending, visitor access and other services associated with multi-unit property developments across Africa.

The pre-seed funding round was led by Zrosk Investment Management, with participation from other strategic investors including Voltron Capital, Decimal Point Ventures, Fast Forward Fund, Tayo Oviosu (CEO of Paga), Odun Eweniyi (COO of Piggyvest), Oo Nwoye, Desigan Chinniah, Dakar Network Angels and Viktoria Business Angel Network. Starting with Nigeria and Kenya, the new funding will support VENCO to build out its credit delivery infrastructure for rent and household spend, as well as its expansion into other cities and countries on the continent. 

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With growing urbanisation across Africa, multi-property developments have emerged as the preferred mode of delivering residential and commercial real estate. Of the 2.5 million households in Nigeria that earn more than $1,000 per month, 80 percent live in multi-property communities. 25 percent of their income is spent on rent and 50 percent is spent on other household needs, including consumables, utilities, internet data, cable TV and other services. This market for household spend represents a $22.5 billion opportunity in Nigeria, and $100 billion across Africa.

However, with the process of managing various aspects of life in these communal developments being largely manual and paper-based, there are many inefficiencies that negatively impact residents’ experience and profitability for property owners. For example, the default-rate on service charge collection for multi-property developments in Africa can be as high as 60 percent, which means that property managers are either out of pocket or forced to operate on insufficient funds. Even when payments are collected, the manual process means reconciliation is error-prone and theft is common.

Co-founded by Chude Osiegbu (CEO), Reagan Mbitiru (CTO) and Uzochukwu Alor (COO), VENCO automates collection and reconciliation of all dues and payments in communities resulting in improved receipts and better margins for property owners. For residents, self-service tools provided by VENCO make processes such as visitor control, issue and emergency management as well as utilities-vending more seamless. With residents able to build an economic profile based on their financial transactions on the VENCO platform, they can now access a range of embedded financial services, including insurance, credit facilitation for rent, service charges and household spend along with many other services.

VENCO has recorded over 200 percent growth over the last 9 months and is currently in 6 cities and more than 12,000 property units across Nigeria and Kenya. Since January 2022, it has processed more than $10 million in transaction value via its platform. The company is also partnering with ecommerce platforms to enable easier access to merchants within and around the community, energy companies to ensure reliable energy metering and collections, and other service providers to improve the overall experience in these communities.

According to Chude Osiegbu, CEO and co-founder of VENCO, “the manual nature of many processes associated with life in residential and commercial communities in Africa presents many issues that we believe technology can fix. Beyond this, we also want to leverage technology to deliver new services and experiences that will transform how people live in Africa’s growing cities and create better value for everyone across the board. Our goal is to deliver technology solutions that will enhance living experiences across the continent, and we are excited to have raised these funds to support that mission”

Samson Esemuede, Managing Director, and Chief Investment Officer at Zrosk Investment Management said The team at VENCO are building a platform that allows for the validation of the GDP of the African household. Not only does a platform like VENCO allow for significant improvement in the experience of African residents, facility managers and property owners, it could potentially unlock at scale the sort of financial services the African consumer really needs. We view VENCO as both a SAAS and a financial inclusion play with a potential for strong multiplicative impact across the continent. We are excited to support the VENCO team in achieving their vision”.

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