B2B online supplier Sokowatch deploys use of electric three wheelers in delivery

EAST AFRICA – East African retail tech start-up, Sokowatch has commenced the use of electric tuk tuks in dispatching goods from its warehouses to micro retailers.

The Kenya based company has created a platform on which small retailers log orders of various goods to restock their shops. Once the orders are received, Sokowatch then dispatches the goods from its warehouses to the retailers.

The company which has been operating for four years, acts as a link between retailers and FMCG companies by negotiating big discounts with manufacturers, who deliver their goods to Sokowatch’s 40 warehouses across the region.

The firm is then able to leverage those discounts to supply the small shops at zero transport cost.

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The revamp of its logistic operations is aimed to slash fleet maintenance costs by more than 50% and operate in an environmentally friendly way by minimising its CO2 emissions, reports Reuters.

“We truly do believe that electric vehicles are the future of mobility specifically in Africa, when it comes to powering commerce or retail across the continent.”

Sokowatch Chief Executive – Daniel Yu

So far, the firm has deployed eight locally assembled electric tuk tuks in Uganda and is looking to launch an additional eight in Rwanda before rolling out the vehicles to Kenya and Tanzania.

The move is a potentially welcome effort in a region where cities are grappling with growing air pollution caused by exhaust from beat-up and poorly serviced vehicles and heavy traffic.

“We truly do believe that electric vehicles are the future of mobility specifically in Africa, when it comes to powering commerce or retail across the continent,” Daniel Yu, Sokowatch’s chief executive.

Sokowatch currently has 178 gasoline-powered tuk tuks, in addition to the eight electric vehicles in Uganda, that it uses to deliver goods from its warehouses to 17,000 micro retailers across nine cities in east Africa.

Yu said they were looking to expand elsewhere in Africa after their success in East Africa and capture more of the continent’s small retailers, who the firm estimates to be 10 million.

“We believe that our model can be successful in pretty much every country across the African continent. We are looking at expansion into Francophone West Africa likely in the next period of 2021.”

The expansion will be made possible thanks to the US$14 million it raised in Series A funding round earlier in the year.

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Quona Capital led the funding round joined by Amplo, Breyer Capital, Vertex Ventures, Timon Capital and repeat investor 4DX Ventures.

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