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”.