Gozem, a francophone African super app that provides diverse services such as transport, e-commerce, and financial services has raised $5 million in Series A funding.
The company which is based in Togo and Singapore has received investment from AAIC, Thunes (TransferTo), Momentum Ventures (SMRT), Innoport Ventures (Schulte Group), CMC Ventures (National Express), and Liil Ventures (Mobility ADO).
In previous seed rounds, it has raised $7 million via three tranches from investors such as U.S. firm Plug and Play Ventures, Launch Africa, BANSEA, and Virtual Network. The multi-vertical application has raised over $12 million in total.
The startup was founded by Gregory Costamagna, Raphael Dana, and Emeka Ajene.
Gozem expanded its transportation verticals to include taxi and tricycle services in numerous cities in Togo and Benin as part of a bid to emulate the Grab and Gojek model in Southeast Asia.
As the COVID-19 pandemic spread, the platform ceased its regional expansion and shifted its focus vertically.
It pioneered e-commerce and logistics, letting merchants post an inventory of things that customers demand and have them delivered by its drivers.
The company then offered its drivers an asset finance option, using a lease-to-own model for automobiles and related equipment.
Costamagna, the chairman, stated that the three verticals work together to improve drivers’ disposable income. Gozem’s philosophy is that it produces a win-win situation in which its drivers become the future generation of middle-class Africans while their super app ambitions run smoothly.
“As a result, folks [merchants, suppliers, companies] that are interested in working with them [riders] will work hard and give a variety of services to our customer base,” he explained.
“And when we do so, we improve their disposable income by giving them more passengers, more delivery trips, and finding organizations that want to utilize delivery services by adding more merchants to our platform and finding companies who want to use delivery services.”
We also lower their operating costs through asset finance because they don’t have a formal alternative, and what they do have is usually informal and pricey.”
Gozem has offered up to 1,500 vehicles to drivers since launching the lease model. Costamagna stated in a statement that the financing will assist Gozem reach a population of over 200,000 people by 2025.
With over 800,000 registered users and over 5 million journeys completed, Gozem has expanded to 13 cities, including Gabon and Cameroon. The firm’s founders believe the company is aiming to provide digital banking services and financing to its users.
It’s a concept that other super app firms in Africa have used in the past, including Nigeria’s OPay (which has since canceled its super app intentions to focus on its financial services branch) and, more recently, SafeBoda. Other firms, like Yassir, which focuses on North Africa, are also aiming to offer banking and payment services.
In all of the cities where Gozem operates, the company wants to employ its current network of marketplace users (drivers and merchants) as agents. Individual users can exchange cash for mobile money via the Gozem app in this way.
“I believe we have a great differentiator. Generally speaking, our competitors are telcos that provide mobile money services, as well as standalone digital wallets,” Costamagna explained. “What we’re attempting to provide is an integrated wallet solution that is part of a broader set of services.” As a result, this is the most significant market distinction.
Francophone Africa had been largely left out of the tech and startup disruption sweeping across other African regions, particularly Nigeria, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, until it minted its first unicorn in the form of fintech startup Wave, which shed some light on the opportunities that abound in the market. They told me that it was the same reason why the founders established Gozem in the first place.
“Nearly 95 percent of the money and attention always goes to four or five African countries: Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and Egypt, Dana said. “However, Francophone Africa is a bit sidelined when it comes to all the major traction.” We’ve noticed a lot of great prospects in Francophone as a nice market.”
Having founded firms in Singapore before Gozem, Dana and Costamagna welcomed Ajene on board, bringing his on-the-ground African experience to a team with extensive Southeast Asian market understanding.
After three years, Gozem now has 250 staff across four marketplaces. The Series A funding will be used to grow into other Francophone African countries, such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal, and the Ivory Coast. While offering its financial services, the corporation is also trying to strengthen its asset financing approach.
“The markets in which we operate on the continent are considered second-tier African markets by some.” We do, however, have a chance and believe in the approach we’re pursuing. As we’ve stated across all of our verticals, it’s truly a wide berth where there’s less competition. “We want to be embedded across the area over the next year,” Ajene added, noting that Gozem is now active in four nations.