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London Tech Week

This founder quit his UK job, returned to Nigeria and raised $5M to digitise cross-border trade in Africa 

OnePort 365
Image credits: OnePort 365

A digital freight forwarding company, OnePort 365, which makes it easier to move cargo to, from and within Africa, has picked up $5 million in seed funding. The financing round was led by Mobility 54 (the Venture Capital arm of Toyota Tsusho and CFAO Group) alongside participation from SBI Investment, Flexport that recently invested in Oware, ODX, a Singaporean syndicate fund and other strategic angel investors. Also, existing investor Samurai Incubate participated in the round.

OnePort 365 will use the proceeds of this round to further improve efficiency and lower overheads in cross-border trading across the continent, and deliver a wide range of new services that will increase profitability across the board. The startup aims to drive the end-to-end digitisation of freight management in Africa and support its expansion into new markets across the continent. Already, it is actively operating in Nigeria and Ghana.

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”.

Enables cross-border trade!

Africa contributes an increasingly significant amount to global maritime trade. 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. OnePort 365 provides digital freight solutions that enhance Africa’s participation in global trade.

Hio Sola-Usidame, who founded OnePort 365 in 2019, moved to England as a teenager and graduated from Warwick business school. Later, he worked in logistics in the energy sector for years in the UK and travelled to the US too for work. He then moved to Nigeria, where he founded OnePort 365.

The startup is building an operating system for cross-border trade in Africa. It helps traders to manage their freight processes through a digital platform that enables seamless freight forwarding and other value-added services. With this platform, traders need not wait for up to two weeks to compare the prices offered by various service providers.

They can explore competitive offers on the platform and book freights in less than 30 seconds. Also, traders can connect with shipping and inland transportation vendors and manage the entire process from booking to payment on one single platform. What’s more, traders get GPS-enabled, real-time visibility of their shipments and can view all documents related to the shipment via the platform, thereby eliminating the laborious process of physically retrieving these documents from offices or shipping line centres.

Furthermore, the platform leverages advancements in payment technology and the Pan-African Payment and Settlement System (PAPSS) to power instant payments.

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