OnePort 365 secures $5 million Seed Funding to Digitize Freight Management in Africa
OnePort 365 Team (Image: OnePort 365)
OnePort 365, a digital freight forwarding company that makes it easier to move cargo to, from and within Africa, has raised $5 million in seed funding to drive the end-to-end digitisation of freight management in Africa and support its expansion into new markets across the continent. The seed funding round was led by Mobility 54 (the Venture Capital arm of Toyota Tsusho and CFAO Group), with participation from SBI Investment, Flexport, ODX, a Singaporean syndicate fund and other strategic angel investors. Samurai Incubate also re-invested after participating in the previous round.
With active operations in Nigeria and Ghana, and ongoing explorations in other markets, OnePort 365 is building an operating system for cross-border trade in Africa, helping traders to manage their freight processes through a digital platform that enables seamless freight forwarding and other value-added services. With this new funding, OnePort 365 is positioned to further improve efficiency and lower overheads in cross-border trading across the continent, as well as deliver a wide range of new services that will increase profitability across the board.
Africa contributes an increasingly significant amount to global maritime trade, with a reported 12 percent of the 811 million containers handled at ports worldwide. Africa’s clearing and forwarding market is also growing, with latest figures suggesting a market size of $4.2 billion and a projected 12.5 percent growth with new services emerging. However, a wide range of challenges including congestion at ports, difficulty with accessing effective service providers and complex payment systems have resulted in increased costs, inefficiencies and many missed opportunities for traders.
With OnePort 365, traders no longer have to wait up to two weeks to compare the best rates from different service providers. With pre-negotiated rates, they can explore competitive offers on the platform and book freights in 30 seconds or less. Traders can also connect with shipping and inland transportation vendors and manage the entire process (from booking to payment) on one single platform. Traders get GPS-enabled, real-time visibility of their shipments and they can view all documents relating to the shipment via the platform, eliminating the laborious process of physically retrieving these documents from offices or shipping line centres. The platform also leverages advancements in payment technology and the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to power instant payments.
The platform covers air freight, ocean freight, inland haulage (trucking, barge, and rail), as well as Pay-As-You-Go warehousing, marine insurance, customs brokerage and more. Since OnePort 365 started operations in 2019, it has increased the number of twenty-foot equivalent unit containers (TEUs) by 140 percent and grown its revenue by more than 420 percent.
Commenting on the new funding Hio Sola-Usidame, CEO and founder of OnePort 365 said “we are super excited to have these investors onboard to support our mission to optimize cross-border trading across the continent. With new regulations like the Africa Continental Free Trade Agreement creating the potential for a new era of trade on the continent, we want to make it easier for traders to maximise the opportunity. We believe managing freights should be as easy as booking a flight or ordering a ride-hailing service and we are building the operating system to make this possible.”
Takeshi Watanabe, CEO of Mobility 54 Investment SAS said “we are delighted to support Hio and the OnePort 365 team as they embark on the journey of digitizing the end-to-end freight management process in Africa. There is great potential to unlock significant commercial opportunities across the continent by addressing the longstanding challenges that have made it difficult to move freights into and around the continent, and we are confident that OnePort 365 has what it takes to succeed.”
Rena Yoneyama, Managing Partner at Samurai Incubate Africa said, “since the first day we joined the company as an investor in 2020, we’ve believed that this team is the one that could build a cross-border trading platform tailored for the African continent. We’re very happy to back OnePort 365 again”.
AWIEF Opens Registration for its 2023 Africa Conference
AWIEF 2022 Conference held in Cairo, Egypt (Image: Supplied)
The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) has announced the opening of registration for its annual conference and awards. This year is the 9th edition of the prestigious AWIEF event, and it will be held at the Kigali Convention Centre (KCC), Kigali, Rwanda, on 9 and 10 November 2023.
AWIEF has become Africa’s leading entrepreneurship, innovation and technology platform, bringing together more than 1,300 entrepreneurs and startups, industry experts, thought leaders, policy drivers, and change-makers from across Government, Corporate and Development sectors for impactful discussions and dialogue on new ideas, initiatives, strategies, and solutions to drive innovation, entrepreneurship, digitization, intra-Africa trade, investing, food security, climate action and sustainability and, ultimately, economic and social transformation in Africa.
Last year’s speakers included H. E. Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Deputy Chairperson, African Union Commission, H. E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation, Solomon Quaynor, Vice President, Private Sector, Infrastructure & Industrialization, African Development Bank (AfDB), Jackie Jones, Director, Gender Equality Division, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Izabela Milewska, Digital Skills Global Leader, Amazon Web Services (AWS).
Sponsors included Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, AWS, Afreximbank, Sparkle, and Africa Europe Foundation. AWIEF 2023 will be a fully in-person event, coming back to its full glory since 2020 when COVID-19 pandemic forced the event to go virtual and hybrid.
AWIEF Founder and CEO, Irene Ochem, said: “We are excited to be bringing the 9th edition of our annual conference to East Africa for the first time and especially Kigali, one of the most exciting cities in Africa right now. We are looking forward to advancing our efforts in connecting the African and global entrepreneurship ecosystem in this significant hub for business, technology, and innovation.”
All AWIEF 2023 participants, attending the event from outside Rwanda, are eligible for a visa upon arrival without prior application. Citizens of African Union, Commonwealth and La Francophonie member countries can obtain free visas upon arrival for a visit of 30 days.
Baron & Cabot launches a portal to support the expansion of local real estate agencies in Africa
Baron & Cabot Managing Director, Mark Pearson
Baron and Cabot, a UK-based international real estate firm has launched a game-changing concept, a UK property portal that is offering a strategic expansion plan for real estate agencies in Africa. The innovative approach, is a first of its kind using AI technology to predict property prices and will allow real estate agents in Africa to sell properties, and earn in pounds, providing an unprecedented opportunity for growth and financial success.
Through this portal, real estate firms will get to de-risk their investments in international markets and gain access to a wide range of fully compliant properties. Baron & Cabot, with a reputation for being one of the top fastest-growing property companies in the world and transacting on around £100 million GBP per annum ($120 m) of UK property while having access to some of the best property developments in the UK, has been particularly successful in Africa due to inflation driving clients to move their money into GBP and Dollar to purchase assets.
“We are thrilled to be launching this innovative concept that will not only provide a platform for real estate agents in Africa to sell UK properties but will also create job opportunities and drive economic growth. We believe that by leveraging AI technology to predict property prices, we can provide our partners with a unique advantage and help them to achieve financial success. Our joint venture expansion plans are aimed at creating mutually beneficial partnerships that will bring value to all parties involved.” – Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Baron & Cabot.
In addition to providing agents with access to new revenue streams, Baron and Cabot’s property portal is also expected to create new job opportunities in the African market. The company is committed to providing its agents with comprehensive 2 to 4 week training and support to help them succeed in their new roles. This training will ensure that agents are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the real estate market and take advantage of the opportunities that Baron and Cabot’s concept provides. Real estate will have the ability to reserve properties and Baron and Cabot will process the client through legal processes.
As part of its offering, Baron and Cabot will provide clients with mortgages anywhere in the world (excluding war zones), with mortgage rates lower than 6% and deposits below 35%, making it easier for clients to invest in UK properties.
Mark Pearson, Managing Director of Baron & Cabot, said, “Our management company boasts an impressive occupancy rate of over 99%, with properties awaiting new tenants for an average of only 10 days. This sets us apart from other cities around the world, where the average occupancy rate is only 70%. In addition, our AirBnb or short-term rental products have an average occupancy rate of over 70%, resulting in substantial rental returns and a secure investment. Our secret to success lies in our ability to identify high-demand areas with low supply, combined with exceptional management that keeps both our tenants and landlords satisfied.”
Baron and Cabot utilizes advanced machine learning and data processing to analyze millions of lines of data to identify the best investment locations and pockets of value for clients. With access to information such as the square footage of every property in England and every sold price of every residential property in the UK since 1997, along with economic forecasts, government investment plans, and knowledge of upcoming transport links for the next 5 years, Baron and Cabot is ahead of the curve when it comes to investments. This allows investors to benefit not only from the firm’s purchasing power and large discounts, but also from massive rental growth and capital growth.
Autochek appoints Robert Granados to its board of directors to support growth
Autochek, the automotive technology company making car ownership more accessible and affordable across Africa, has appointed US automotive industry leader and veteran, Robert Granados to its board of directors to support its ongoing growth and expansion.
Robert has over two decades of global experience in leading and growing technology companies focused on providing solutions for the automotive industry value chain. He is currently CEO of CloudOne, a marketing company that helps auto dealers find and engage customers. He was Senior Vice President and General Manager at DealerTrack Technologies, where he led various units, including the finance and lender networks, inventory management and transportation, CRM, and independent dealer websites. Post the acquisition of DealerTrack Technologies by Cox Automotive Inc., the global leader in providing automotive solutions, he served as Senior Vice President, Strategy, at Cox Automotive, where he performed assessments of new growth opportunities, expansion of current business offerings, and effectiveness of current products and services.
He served as Operating Partner at SNH Capital Partners, where he was CEO of the Automotive Portfolio which comprised of National Credit Center, the leading provider of comprehensive data, software and marketing solutions to US dealerships and ProMax, the leading software provider to retail automotive dealers, offering award winning CRM, desking, website, credit, and lead generation solutions. He was also CEO of MAX Digital, a leading automotive inventory management and merchandising platform, supporting the company through a successful exit in 2021.
He will bring this vast experience to Autochek, supporting the integration of the Pan-African automotive industry to drive shared value for consumers, manufacturers, financial institutions and other stakeholders.
Autochek provides best in class technology and advisory solutions to car dealers, financial institutions and other stakeholders in Africa’s automotive ecosystem, supporting them to improve credit decisions, collections, pricing, portfolio management and product development, as well as deliver an enhanced customer experience.
Since launching in 2020, Autochek has driven the penetration of auto-financing across Africa, enabling more consumers and businesses across North, West, East and South Africa to access financing solutions to purchase their desired vehicles. In less than two years of operations, the company has worked with more than 70 financial institutions and more than 2,000 dealerships to process more than 80,000 car loan applications. Leveraging the vast reach of its online marketplace, the company originates auto loans powered by data analytics that makes it easier for financial institutions to offer credit to consumers.
Etop Ikpe, CEO of The Autochek Group, said, “We are excited to have someone of Robert’s calibre on our board with his vast experience from the most advanced automotive markets in the world. He has played a major role in building many successful automotive technology companies and we are looking forward to leveraging his experience to support our continued growth as a company.”
Robert Granados said, “There is a great opportunity to transform lives and livelihoods across Africa by making car ownership more accessible and affordable, and I am thrilled to be supporting Etop and the team to make this happen. Autochek has achieved so much success in a short period of time and I believe there is so much more to come.”