- Google is investing in Uganda’s SafeBoda from the Africa Investment Fund which was launched by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet
- The Africa Investment Fund is part of a broader plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa
- SafeBoda app was launched in 2017 to connect passengers to their community of safer and trusted drivers
Google has announced that it will invest in SafeBoda, a venture-backed company in Uganda.
This is the first investment from the Africa Investment Fund which was launched by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, at Google for Africa in October 2021.
In a statement seen by The Exchange Africa, Google said the funding will help drive SafeBoda’s growth in Uganda and Nigeria, scaling its transportation-led app to offer new payment and financial services solutions for its expanding set of customers: passengers, drivers and merchants.
Ricky Rapa Thomson, one of the co-founders of the app, said the deal would help the firm to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in the boda boda industry.
“As a former boda driver in Kampala, I know that we are the lifeblood of Africa’s cities, and we power economic development. SafeBoda is thrilled that leading global companies such as Google see the importance of backing start-ups working towards these goals,” Thomson said.
Commenting on the same, Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa said the funding would be sourced from the $50M Africa Investment Fund that the technology firm announced two months ago.
“This is part of our ongoing commitment to tech startups in Africa. I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and entrepreneurs. We look forward to announcing subsequent investments in other startups,” Gajria said.
SafeBoda app was launched in 2017 to connect passengers to their community of safer and trusted drivers.
Since then, SafeBoda has grown to serve over 1 million customers, expanding its transportation-led super app offering rides, parcel delivery, food and shop, payments, savings and other financial services.
SafeBoda has also worked with a number of organisations to bring impact in road safety and financial inclusion, including Shell Foundation, United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), UN Women and the Global Road Safety Partnership, among many others.
The Africa Investment Fund is part of a broader plan to invest $1 billion over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa.
Through this fund, Google will invest $50M in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build impactful products for their communities.
Currently, Africa is home to 700,000 developers and venture capital funding for startups has decreased in 2020 compared to 2019, with a record $4 billion in equity funding raised in 2021, according to Partech Ventures Africa.
Digital startups in Africa are driving innovation in fast-growing sectors, including fintech, health tech, media and entertainment, e-commerce, e-mobility, and e-logistics, contributing to Africa’s growing Internet gross domestic product (iGDP) — defined as the Internet’s contribution to the GDP.
In a related story, Google announced the disbursement of $10 million to support the economic recovery of small and medium enterprises across Kenya, South Africa, Ghana, and Nigeria during their virtual Google Kenya event.
A non-profit organisation, Kiva, will oversee the disbursement of the low-interest loans to help the SMEs get through the economic hardship created by COVID-19.
This was also part of the investment announced by Google.
The funding is expected to focus on enabling fast, affordable internet access for more Africans; building helpful products; supporting entrepreneurship and small business; and helping non-profits to improve lives across Africa.
“KIVA has engaged two local financial service providers who are going to be disbursing the loans in Kenya in the next few weeks. Together with those partners, we shall be sharing modalities of how to apply for the loans,” Agnes Gathaiya, Country Director, Google Eastern Africa.