The startup, which was founded in July 2018, is the latest on the African continent to go after solving the logistics and last mile delivery problem. The technology company, which is committed to bringing some fluidity and reliability to the transportation of goods, people and services in large cities of sub-Saharan Africa commenced operations in Lagos.
Speaking to The Guardian, the founder and CEO of the company, Romain Poirot-Lellig said the company’s focus is on business-to-business-to-customers (B2B2C) and business-to-business (B2B) customers, who are facing uphill battle in their quest to ensure proper transportation of their documents or parcels, which are often clogged by traffic.
He said, “We have been working for over a year and half on launching of our services in sub-Saharan Africa cities, starting with Lagos. Nigeria and Lagos in particular are blessed with large companies and even medium size industries, all which need exchange of documents or parcels internally within their companies or between themselves or their customers (wholesalers and retailers).
“At the moment, these companies solve this problem in two distinct ways. The first way is using their own fleet or last-mile documents and parcel transportation unit. There is a team of motorcycle riders or cargo Keke and so on. They try as much as possible to manage this internal fleet to achieve their business goals. This is actually a costly and not so efficient distraction from their core business activities.”
Poirot-Lellig explained that the country’s poor infrastructure, population density and traffic in Lagos have constrained growth in the logistics industry. He added that time delays, poor tracking and tracing capabilities, poor logistics quality and competence are some of factors that weigh on growth prospects for the business.
Nigeria ranked poorly on all these factors on the Logistics Performance Index 2012, and has lost significant ground since the 2010 rating. Adding to this are burdensome customs procedures, which are still a major stumbling block in the effective functioning of the Nigerian logistics system and add to business costs and risk for transport and logistics services providers.
“Our model is quite different from existing companies: we are an asset-light company and we enroll the Kwiksters – our delivery partners – much like Uber is enrolling drivers. Our job is to select very strictly these Kwiksters and to create an environment in which they can thrive and enhance their standard of living. We provide them with equipment, training, financial services, technology and incentives – as well as with a clear set of rules that we strictly enforce,” he added.
As a result, Poirot-Lellig stated that Kwik is talking with clients and big companies in the pharmaceutical and automotive business. He noted that these companies most times send a delivery van on a route at 8:00am and it comes back at 8 or 9:00pm due to traffic in the city.
According to him, what this simply means is that any document or parcel that is not picked up after the van has left in the morning is lost for the day. “So it is a real business problem for people and companies that sell goods to wholesalers in small quantities to small stores in neigbhourhoods and so on,” he stated.
Poirot-Lellig continues: “Our approach, which is point-to-point delivery service, is not unique because it has been experimented by a lot of delivery companies in other countries and cities of the world. But what we are bringing into the market with this approach is the power of technology. We also want to contribute to the very dynamic Nigerian ecosystem by partnering with companies such as Paga and Paystack
“We have an application that we use to track our fleet of riders. The technology also helps our customers to track their documents or parcels just the same way they use Uber or Bolt. All they need is to download the app-Kwik. There is individual account and corporate account. For example, if you are a corporate customer, you can route many parcels and opt for right away or later. Also you choose if it is one-off or recurrent.”
A 2018 Logistics and Supply Chain Industry report released by the African Centre for Supply Chain in March this year, put the value of the logistics sub-sector of the economy at N250 billion (US $700 million). The report pointed out that logistics is the fastest growing industry in the world and urged the government to assist in growing the sub-sector in Nigeria.
Commenting on the B2B2C, which is expanding e-commerce to business-to-business-to-consumer, Poirot-Lellig said Kwik’s focus is lean delivery service on demand business, adding that Lagos has equilibrium economy.
He further explained that it could have better potential if people, goods and service inside the city are transported more efficiently. “So, this is the general approach we are bringing into the market,” he said.