Abidjan-based digital transportation startup, Moja Ride, has secured an undisclosed amount of funding from Toyota Tsusho Corporation (“Toyota Tsusho”) and its group company CFAO SAS (“CFAO”). Investment in Moja Ride came as a result of the awarding of Mobility54 Special Prize to Moja Ride at the Startups in AFRICA — the grand final of NINJA business plan competition, hosted by Nikkei Inc. (“Nikkei”) and Japan International Cooperation Agency (“JICA”) on February 26, 2021.
The investment which came from Toyota Tsusho’s newly launched $45 million Mobility 54 Investment SAS (“Mobility54”) fund– a corporate venture capital subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho group, was made through the underwriting of convertible notes. Under convertible notes investment, bonds can be converted into shares of the issuing company under certain conditions. This was the style of investment recently used by the VC when it invested in Kenyan bus management startup, Data Integrated.
Moja Ride had previously obtained a Grand Challenges grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in November 2015 to work on a solution that would help small merchants in Africa embrace digital payments.
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Why The Investor Invested
“The reasons for the company’s selection for the special award and for the investment are in the hope of enhancing the quality of public transport services in West Africa, by supporting the deployment of services by Moja Ride, which target public transport operators,” noted Toyota Tsusho about the latest investment in Moja Ride.
The “Startups in AFRICA” event hosted by Nikkei and JICA on November 5, 2020 has the aim of promoting investment in the African tech startup market by Japanese companies.
In the competition final round, 10 African startups chosen by JICA gave business presentations, based upon which the audience selected top 3 companies and special prizes were awarded by Mobility54 and other private firms.
For several years, approximately 35,000 share-taxis (“Woro-Woro”) and 8,000 minibuses (“Gbaka”) have served the transportation needs of Abidjan residents in Côte d’Ivoire. Taxi or minibus owners run the companies separately, hiring drivers to provide their services. As a result, each taxi or minibus’s service details and pricing mechanisms are not fully transparent and integrated. Each time they use such a service, passengers must check the operating schedule and destination before negotiating the price. Fares are usually charged in cash, and drivers are in charge of regular collections. This is what Moja Ride intends to resolve.
Through Mobility54, Toyota Tsusho Group is accelerating its investment in startups with innovative mobility technologies and services for Africa. The fund, which was launched in 2019. had previously invested in Kenyan data platform, Data Analytics; as well as Uganda’s Tugende.
Founded in 2017, after a major renaming from Moja Wallet, by Jean-Claude Gouesse, Moja Ride provides a reservation and cashless payment system spanning multiple transport services, centered on the city of Abidjan, currently including over 1,200 taxis and buses.
Moja Ride’s system is expanding to coordinate service and passenger information, in an effort to improve passenger convenience and operating efficiency for business owners. It is hoped that this will lead to greater quality of the country’s public transport.
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