CanGo: The First Super App in Central Africa

Addressing the problem of environment and movement in a dense area, CanGo, an app-based platform offering cab-hailing/pooling, bus-hailing, and bike-hailing services has launched.

It might be true that the ride-hailing app reduced the challenges associated with the movement for large cities in South, West, and East African countries, but for those in Central Africa, it is not the case. This is what inspired Barrett Nash and Peter Kariuki to establish an on-demand bike-hailing platform in 2014 which has progressed into CanGo.

CanGo was first operated first in Kigali, Rwanda. Following a successful outing there, they decided to scale into the largest city in Central Africa, Kinshasa.

“What we’re doing is providing a safe, convenient, and affordable transportation solution. We allow you to move around the city with ease and also bring the best of the city’s services to you,” Nash said.

CanGo operates ride-hailing and on-demand logistics services. The startup’s model has riders register their bikes on the platform, get onboard after verification, and then linked with customers through the mobile application. Similar to other ride-hailing platforms, CanGo riders pay a commission on every trip.

Although the company bootstrapped in its early days, the inexistence in funding stalled the startup’s growth. CanGo is operating within an untapped ecosystem in the region. Entering the SOSV accelerator program in Ireland in its first year mainly made the business on the right track. It has survived on revenue and funds from VCs since.

In this early 2019, CanGo raised a $1.1million funding, led by Battery Road Digital Holdings, Trucks (Silicon Valley VC), SOSV, Hala (Dubai-based firm),  Zephyr Acorn, and PAN Group.

CanGo’s initial plan is to design an app-based motorcycle taxi model, but considering best practices in larger markets, it aims at a bigger plan.

The platform currently boasts of 165 riders and 12,000 registered users, 1,250 of which actively engage rides and other logistics services weekly, according to Nash.

Despite the country’s strong bureaucratic system which could inhibit startup growth and people’s slow culture of transiting to new innovations, he hopes that tech penetration will soon be higher than the current condition.

“Over another year, we’re working to scale in Kinshasa, by growing 20 to 30 times over what our current volume is. We’ll also include around eight new service verticals on the app,” Nash said.

The geographical expansion should follow, as he believes that at that stage, CanGo would have grown strong enough to withstand competition in Kinshasa. This will include additional cities in DRC (Lubumbashi and Goma) and other Central African nations (Angola and Rwanda).

It is expected that CanGo’s advantage as a first-comer would make it scale fast while the region is still adopting the technology.


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