Automobile and logistics firm Bwala Africa has secured Sh10 million ($99,255.58) financing from Stanbic Bank to venture into last mile logistics.
Bwala Africa Group, a last mile logistics marketplace was launched early this year to solve challenges facing fleet owners on a daily basis has recorded over 6000 + deliveries in Nairobi and secured debt financing from South African-based bank CFC Stanbic to meet the rising demand for last mile fleet connectivity.
According to data from the firm, the Sh10m debt financing, Bwala Africa is rolling out 8 new trucks from ISUZU East Africa, four directly funded by CFC and the other 4 funded internally by Bwala, bringing the cost of total invest to Sh24,000,000 ($238,213.39). The terms of the debt financing were however not disclosed.
The firm has already partnered with Jumia Kenya, Copia and Naivas supermarket to deliver goods sold online.
“The financing will see the firm’s trucks hit eight in number and able to do more transactions.” Said Bwala Chief Executive and Founder Kennedy Nyabwala.
The move comes even as more retailers shift their business online.
Last year, Naivas Supermarket invested Sh180 million in an e – commerce platform seeking to reach tech survey shoppers while Uchumi supermarket is already working on its own platform.
Fashion retailer Deacons East Africa also announced plans to invest Sh10 million ($99,255.58) for an E- commerce platform that is part of a strategy to boost sales. In 2017, Jumia handled more than 8 million packages through the Jumia logistics platform. “Walk-in customers will significantly reduce as more customers will prefer to buying online, Convenience, affordability, accessibility, and confidentiality will be the key drivers and we hope to play fill the convenience gap, ” he notes.
Kennedy Nyabwala predicts that delivery time for every online store will reduce to conform to consumer needs.
“We are equipping ourselves to have the fastest deliveries in Kenya. Reduction in delivery time opens doors to more online shopping in the future,” he added.
Bwala is also piloting their escrow system dubbed BwalaPay, a technology that allows vendors to have cash collected on their behalf if a customer buying online is not comfortable paying upfront.
“We a doing collections, through BwalaPay, our escrow system. We have so far collected over Sh7 Million ($69,478.91) for our various last mile customers. BwalaPay allows customers to pay on delivery and the seller on the other will either get cash when the item is sold / return of the package, if not sold. This has solved a big pain on online fraud, and hence this gives us the confidence of sorting out safety issues of online transactions”
BwalaPay service will be extended to classifieds and other online business entities who are dealing with skeptical customers who are not sure if they will lose money through online fraud.
The firm is also working on its on-demand last mile retail logistics section for its B2B and B2C customers in e-commerce and distribution.
Though Bwala Africa is the first logistics platform and marketplace where logistics providers can meet mechanics, buy spares and insurance, the firm is also the first to offer an escrow payment service to its users building trust between the shipper and the receiver during the transaction.
Launched in Nairobi nine months ago, Bwala Africa’s growth has not been without challenges. Nyabwala says signing-up of truckers has proven to be a difficult and an expensive affair needing a lot of patience.
“We have managed to cover most parts of Nairobi and are expanding across counties in Kenya. We started with trucks but quickly realized that motorbike deliveries were on high demand due to to their speed and efficiency. We therefore integrated them,” added Nyabwala.