Ghanaian logistics startup Swiftly has bootstrapped its way to a solid market presence in its home market since its launch, but is now seeking capital to help it expand internationally.
Founded in 2016, Swiftly allows users to compare quotes from its network of freight forwarders, make bookings, and receive expert customs and regulatory advice. It allows users to arrange everything from a local courier all the way through to air freight services.
“Shipping rates directly affect everything we use, and so price is important to businesses. International shipping is mostly expensive and cumbersome due to low-tech, outmoded processes, five times more so for Africa trade lanes,” CEO Edem Dotse told Disrupt Africa. 
“There is no efficiency in moving sea freight as every year 100 million containers are shipped worldwide almost empty.”
In addressing this issue, Swiftly is going up against the likes of Kobo360, OnePort 365 and Lori Systems, but compared to those companies it is relatively uncapitalised. Swiftly raised pre-seed funding from DraperDarkFlow – now Draper VC – in 2016, but since then has been funded by revenues. Nonetheless, growth has been solid, especially in the last two years.
“At the beginning, we were shipping 100kg for a whole year, but now we are doing over 500 metric tonnes per month,” Dotse said.
With such growth in Ghana, Swiftly is now planning expansion into new markets, and for that it is seeking further funding.
“We already move goods from all over the world between countries like Ghana, South Africa,  Burkina Faso, Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria and the UK, US, Canada, Australia, and China. Now we want to have a physical presence in French West Africa, and East Africa,” said Dotse.
The startup also has plans to expand its product suite. 
“We want to Introduce our unique shared shipping model to the US, China and Europe, and launch a collective purchasing service to allow importers to Africa to negotiate in groups and enjoy associated price benefits and logistics benefits,” Dotse said.
Swiftly monetises by placing a markup on overhead costs including the fees it pays to airlines, shipping lines and truck owners to place its freight on their vessels.
“Our margins are in the range of 25 per cent of overhead costs,” Dotse said. “However our prices are still very good for our end customers due to the discounted contract rates we have with carriers like Maersk, DHL, Fedex, and UPS.”
Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent’s most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.
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