December 3, 2023

After selling their hospitality tech startup Teranga in 2018, the Senegalese brothers Mustafa and Alion N’Doye As they considered their next move, they ventured into the trucking business. However, they quickly understood that fleet management was a major challenge and one that significantly impacted truck owners’ bottom line.

Some market research made them aware of the full extent of the inefficiencies in the trucking business, which especially limit the income of owner-operators. This is their logistics technology startup, Chargeborn in.

“We realized that there were so many inefficiencies and that the logistics sector in Senegal was very fragmented, but we thought technology could help. So we decided to be drivers for a few months to understand how the industry works, the real challenges and where the opportunity is, and then build,” Moustapha told TechCrunch.

Charge quietly emerged last year, pairing shippers with transporters, digitizing a process that was previously largely offline. The startup is taking off quickly, and now counts some of the world’s largest shipping companies, Maersk and Grimaldi, among its earliest customers.

In the next phase of growth, it is opening up its platform to more customers, since it only has access to 10 companies. Its exploration of new avenues for growth is backed by a $2.5 million seed round led by Logos Ventures. Ventures Platform, Foundation Botnar, DFS Labs, and Seedstars also participated in the round, which also included $500,000 in debt. The funding also includes $750,000 announced last year.

“This year we will open up the platform to more shippers in Senegal. We are also considering expanding to another French-speaking African country,” says Mustafa, who briefly worked as a senior product manager for business solutions at Senegalese unicorn Wave. explain.

Senegal-based logistics tech startup Chargel raises $2.5M in seed funding

Chargel plans to expand to another country within French-speaking Africa. Image credits: Charge

Charging vans operating in Senegal deliver goods to neighboring Mali, Guinea and Mauritania. Establishing a full-scale operation in another country will increase their regional coverage and solve many other challenges associated with road freight, Moustapha said.

“The demand is not just in Senegal; some of the clients we work with, like Maersk, serve nine countries outside of the Senegal office. Of course, they want us to be in those countries,” he said.

How Charge works

Chargel doesn’t just provide a platform, it also speeds up the entire shipping process because when it receives an online request from a customer like Maersk, it matches them with the most suitable suppliers (trucks and drivers) from its shipping network. Senders are able to track their shipment en route and receive notification when delivery is complete. The platform also brings together independent shippers, offering them new earning opportunities.

“We are effectively the middleman because the customer contracts with us and we take care of the shipment. Our goal is to make sure the shipment gets from point A to point B on time,” he said.

“We’re making sure shippers focus on their business, truck drivers focus on driving, and we take care of everything that happens in between,” Moustapha said, adding that the startup provides transporters with insurance and other services.

Moustapha said Chargel’s 2022 GMV exceeds $1.2 million, adding that they’re close to surpassing that number so far this year.

Charge is the fourth venture of the brothers after they finished their studies in the United States and returned to China. Their plan is to take advantage of Africa’s expected trade boom. Intra-African freight demand is expected to grow by 28% by the end of the century, driven by the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA), the world’s largest unrestricted trade area. As intra-African trade already relies on road freight, this growth will further increase the demand for trucking services.