Blockchain for governance, Sendbox’s $1.8 million seed, Uber’s ride-sharing service

by | Oct 19, 2021

This post is a delayed version of Techpoint Digest, a week-daily newsletter that rounds up major happenings in African tech. You can start receiving it hours before everyone else if you subscribe now

Good day, 

What I’m discussing:

  • Blockchain for governance
  • Sendbox’s $1.8 million seed
  • Uber’s ride-sharing service

Blockchain for governance

ballot boxbitcoin

When we hear of blockchain, Bitcoin most likely comes to mind. But new trends such as non-fungible tokens (NFT) prove that blockchain is capable of so much more. 

Even becoming a system of government.

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A system of government? Well, kind of. A  Decentralised Autonomous Organisation (DAO) is a blockchain innovation where organisations exist as computer code, and all operations are automated.

How does it work? It uses something called smart contracts. They’re regular contracts but drawn up by a programmer instead of a lawyer. 

These smart contracts ensure all parties hold up their end of the bargain when predetermined conditions have been met.

Still don’t get it? Our reporter, Bolu Abiodun, talks about Africa’s first DAO, bnugDAO and what it all means.

Just click this: DAO: A blockchain innovation that promises businesses and governments where everyone’s the leader

Sendbox’s $1.8 million seed

Emotu Balogun and Olusegun Afolahan Sendbox
Emotu Balogun and Olusegun Afolahan. Source: TechCrunch

On Monday, October 18, 2021, Nigerian eCommerce startup, Sendbox announced its $1.8 million seed round from 4DX Ventures, Enza Capital, Flexport, Y Combinator, FJ Labs, and Golden Palm Investments.

The idea for the Y Combinator portfolio company came to Emotu Balogun, Sendbox’s Founder, from challenges he faced while running his previous startup, Traclist. He discovered that merchants struggled with fulfilling orders, so he started building Sendbox with Olusegun Afolahan in 2016. 

The startup launched two years later in 2018 to provide African merchants with an efficient way to fulfil orders. Sendbox caters to different merchant classes and individuals looking to send items. Small merchants enjoy some discounts, saving up to 30% on delivery costs while eliminating the need for several logistics providers.

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Currently, Sendbox offers local deliveries in Nigeria and international deliveries to up to 200 countries, including the US, the UK, and Canada. With this latest funding, the startup plans to offer finance and payments offerings to users and expand to East and West Africa.

eCommerce startups in Africa have not always hit the heights expected of them for various reasons. However, activities seem to have picked up in the last year, with several startups in Nigeria, Kenya, and Egypt, the recipients of substantial investment rounds. 

With most of them focused on serving B2B clients, the African eCommerce landscape looks quite promising.

Uber is testing its ride-sharing service in Kenya

uber africa

Ride-hailing company, Uber, is reportedly testing a new ride-sharing option, Pool Chance. Per TechCrunch, the service was discovered while trying to book a cab in Nairobi. Confirming this, an Uber spokesperson revealed the option could soon be available to users in Nigeria and Ghana.

This is the first time the service has been introduced by the startup in Africa and is similar to UberPool. With Pool Chance, users can get a discount if the driver picks up another rider. In Nairobi, the option is available on the Chap Chap service, while it will be available on the UberX category in Nigeria and Ghana.

Lorraine Ondoru, Uber’s Head of Communications for East and West Africa, speaking to TechCrunch, disclosed that the service would cut costs for riders. “We are currently trialling a new Uber ride, Pool Chance, which will cut costs for riders in Nairobi (Kenya) when they share their ride with others heading in the same direction. 

“We use this approach when introducing something new, and we want to ensure the marketplace remains healthy and balanced. We will share more details once this has been officially launched.”

Assuming Uber’s plans for Pool Chance succeed, more users could sign up to use the service, thus increasing competition with Bolt, its biggest rival in Africa. In August, the latter closed a $600 million round, increasing its valuation to $4 billion and providing more resources to match Uber. So, you can expect to see a counteroffer from Bolt to users.

What I’m reading 

  • In Venezuela, a Rum Maker Offers Gangsters a Life Outside of Crime. Read here
  • Sitting too much drags down your mental health. Here’s how to get moving. Read here
  • Built on the bodies of slaves: how Africa was erased from the history of the modern world. Read here

Opportunities

  • Varsity Tutors is looking for a senior user-centered experience designer. Apply here
  • Here’s an amazing newsletter for remote jobs. Check it out here

Have a great day!

Accidental writer, covering Africa's startup landscape and its heroes.

Looking to transition into tech? Learn how to code in 1 year with AltSchool Africa. Earn a diploma in software engineering at $0. Apply Here.

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