Google has announced its first investment from the Africa Investment Fund launched by Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, at Google for Africa in October. This first investment is in SafeBoda in Uganda and Nigeria, a venture-backed company with investors including GoVentures (GoJek), Allianz X, Unbound, Beenext and Justin Kan.
The SafeBoda app was launched in 2017 to connect passengers to their community of safer and trusted drivers. Since then, SafeBoda has grown to serve over 1 million customers, expanding its transportation-led super app offering rides, parcel delivery, food and shop, payments, savings and other financial services.
Commenting on Google’s investment, Ricky Rapa Thomson, SafeBoda co-founders said, “SafeBoda welcomes Google to their community and are excited to continue to drive innovation in informal transportation and payments in the boda boda (motorcycle taxi driver in East Africa) or okada (West Africa) industry. As a former boda driver in Kampala, I know that we are the lifeblood of Africa’s cities, and we power economic development. SafeBoda is thrilled that leading global companies such as Google see the importance of backing start-ups working towards these goals.”
Nitin Gajria, Managing Director for Google in Africa added, “I am thrilled about our first investment from the $50M Africa Investment Fund that we announced two months ago . This is part of our ongoing commitment to tech startups in Africa. I am of the firm belief that no one is better placed to solve Africa’s biggest problems than Africa’s young developers and entrepreneurs. We look forward to announcing subsequent investments in other startups.”
The Africa Investment Fund is part of a broader plan to invest Ksh. 113 billion (USD 1 billion) over 5 years to support digital transformation in Africa. Through this fund, Google will invest Ksh. 5.6 billion (USD 50 million) in startups and provide them with access to Google’s employees, network, and technologies to help them build impactful products for their communities. Currently, digital startups in Africa are driving innovation in fast-growing sectors, including fintech, healthtech, media and entertainment, e-commerce, e-mobility, and e-logistics. This contributes to Africa’s growing Internet gross domestic product (iGDP), defined as the Internet’s contribution to the GDP.