After a $2.5 million seed raise and an expansion into Cote d’Ivoire, Chargel, a Senegalese logistics startup that connects truck drivers with shippers, wants to change how goods move through Francophone Africa.
Senegalese brothers Moustapha and Alioune Ndoye sold their last business, Teranga—a hospitality tech startup—in 2018, and were advised to use the proceeds to set up a trucking business on the side for extra revenue. This led to them understanding all the problems that the trucking business faced in Senegal and how technology could solve them. “We bought the trucks, and we had to think about how to get businesses and how to get paid. We saw so many operational inefficiencies and some gaps in financing the trucks. We felt technology could change that, so we decided to launch Chargel,” Moustapha told TechCabal over a call.
Chargel is a logistics company that connects shippers with trucking companies, digitising Francophone Africa’s road freight transport network. Shippers can also track their goods with GPS on Chargel’s platform and receive notifications once they are delivered.
Startups like Chargel that connect truckers with demand operate in a fragmented logistics sector that could be worth $80 billion with a 4.5% annual growth rate. The inefficiencies in the sector are estimated to add about 40%-60% to the prices of imported goods.
Chargel has made deliveries into five Francophone countries; Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, and Guinea. However, it has only expanded its base into Cote d’Ivoire for now. Moustapha said this was because most of its Senegalese customers are also in Cote d’Ivoire and the port of Abidjan is one of the biggest in Francophone Africa.
Earlier this year, in April, Chargel announced that it had raised a $2.5 million seed round with participation from investors like Logos Ventures, Ventures Platform, Foundation Botnar, DFS Labs, and Seedstars. According to Moustapha, Chargel raised the funds because the brothers convinced investors that they could leverage their experience to solve the trucking problem in Francophone Africa.
Moustapha told TechCabal that Chargel makes money from the margin it gets from negotiating prices with transporters like Maersk and Grimaldi and selling transportation from its pool of independent truck drivers to them. Although he refused to disclose how much revenue the startup generates, Moustapha told TechCabal that the startup had made seven figures in USD this year. (Chargel made over $1.2 million in GMV in 2022).
In Senegal, the startup has secured over 3,000 trucks on its platform. Moustapha told TechCabal that this resulted from the operational efficiency that the drivers experienced with Chargel. The startup is also in the final stages of a deal with a Senegalese insurtech that will allow all the drivers on its platform to access accidental insurance and life insurance.
Chargel also insures every good that passes through its platform for the shippers. “When it comes to insurance, the way we look at it is very simple. When you come to Chargel, we insure that your goods are transported from point A to point B on time. So if something happens between those two points, it’s on us,” Moustapha said.
Last month, the Senegalese government shut down the internet to prevent disturbances to public order. This was the second time the government shut down the internet in two months. Moustapha called the shutdowns “unfortunate” and told TechCabal that they erode trust in the country’s startup ecosystem. “We hope that the government can find ways to deal with their issues without having to shut down the internet because it affects everything, like mobile money and GPS tracking,” he added.
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