Google announced its first investment in the Africa Investment Fund. This fund was launched by Sundar Pichai (CEO of Google and Alphabet) at Google for Africa in Oct. The unspecified sum was invested in Safeboda , a bike-hailing startup from Uganda.
Safeboda, a venture-backed firm, has investors such as Allianz X (GoJek), Beenext, Justin Kan, and Allianz X (Unbound). Google stated that SafeBoda will grow in Uganda and Nigeria and that it will scale its transportation-led app to provide new payment and financial service solutions for its growing customer base: drivers, passengers, and merchants.
Ricky Rapa Thomson, one co-founder, spoke out about the investment.
SafeBoda is pleased to welcome Google to their community. We are eager to continue driving innovation in informal transportation, payments and payment in the Boda Boda (motorcycle taxi driver East Africa) and okada(West Africa) industries. As a former Boda driver from Kampala, I understand that we are vital to the development of Africa’s cities. SafeBoda is delighted that Google and other global companies see the value of supporting start-ups that work towards these goals.
SafeBoda was created in 2017 to connect passengers with safer and more trusted drivers. SafeBoda now has over 1,000,000 customers and is expanding its transportation-led superapp offering rides, food, and payments.
Google’s Africa Investment Fund is part a larger plan to invest $1Billion over five years in support of digital transformation in Africa. The tech giant will invest $50M into selected startups, giving them access to Google’s network and employees to help them create impactful products for their communities.
Google has successfully trained more than 6 million people in 25 African countries. More than 60% of participants have seen growth in their careers and/or businesses as a result. Google has invested over $16 million in 50 African nonprofits and helped hundreds of millions of Africans access the internet through Android.
Nitin Gajria (Managing Director, Google in Africa), spoke out to announce the investment. He said that Google is delighted to make its first investment. He stated:
“I am delighted about our first investment in the $50M Africa Investment Fund, which we announced two months back. This is part our ongoing commitment for tech startups in Africa. I believe that Africa’s young entrepreneurs and developers are better equipped to solve Africa’s most pressing problems. We are looking forward to making investments in other startups.
Safeboda operates in Uganda and Ibadan (Nigeria). Last year, the bike-hailing startup Safeboda announced that it had reached 100,000 rides in Nigeria. This achievement is just three months after launched its operations at Ibadan. It also announced it would cease operations in Kenya starting 27 November 2020.
After two years of operation in Kenya, SafeBoda’s Kenya exitis complete. In 2018, the ride-hailing startup launched in East Africa, with over 4,000 Bodas onboard and millions of rides completed.