Miishe Addy is the co-founder and CEO of shipping logistics firm Jetstream Africa. She founded the company after identifying so many opportunities in the shipping industry while on a teaching fellowship for an NGO in Ghana in 2017.
Her family is Ghanaian but she was born in the U.S., grew up in Texas, and obtained her first degree from the prestigious Harvard University. While in Ghana, she saw a challenge in the global supply chain and came up with a solution through a mixture of technology and human skills.
Across Africa, many small and medium-sized businesses struggle with their paperwork, processes, and investment needed to ship their goods across international borders. Jetstream Africa seeks to leverage technology to allow African businesses to own their cross-border supply chains.
The logistics startups are considered as part of a “third wave” of Africa’s tech revolution attracting investors due to access to high-profile customers and profitability. And with the coming into force of the Continental Free Trade Agreement, the sector is expected to be more profitable.
For Addy, the logistics sector is central to Africa’s development and there could be no better time to venture into it via Jetstream than now.
“Most businesses in Africa make and sell physical things, and you can’t sell what you can’t move. So logistics is really a centerpiece of the entire commerce equation,” Addy said at a virtual Africa Tech Summit Connects.
“And we’ve seen so much momentum in the fintech world, and there are so many e-commerce websites that are coming up to allow SMEs and everyone else to sell products, but it is the people who are running the cargo on the ground who are solving one of the trickiest bottlenecks.”
Jetstream offers two major services: Jetstream Freight Forwarding Company helps shippers import or export goods from Ghana and Nigeria. The company also developed a digital platform that helps shippers to pay for and track their cargo.
After three years of operations, Jetstream is becoming one of the household names in the shipping industry. To Addy, following her intuition has paid off for her.
She told CNN that she is gratified by the fact that her career in tech entrepreneurship is not only having an impact, but it is rewarding. “Technology is like nothing else in the sense that a relatively small team of people who build a technology platform that’s relevant to the market can impact hundreds, thousands, even millions of people within a relatively short timeframe — and (have) the ability to create things that are of value to other people and scale those things across countries, across geographical boundaries, across cultures,” she said. “That’s incredibly rewarding.”
Although COVID-19 has affected businesses across the globe and in particular, the supply chain, the digitization of the operations of Jetstream has been beneficial to the company. According to Addy, her firm tripled its revenues and customer base in 2020.
“[And] this year we saw over 1,000 sign-ups for our mobile technology by logistics vendors who, two years ago, would not use their mobile phones for anything other than WhatsApp and phone calls,” she told CNN.
Addy drives her inspiration from both her parents. Her dad is an inventor, investor, and entrepreneur who is credited with developing a pioneering sterilization device for Johnson & Johnson in the 1990s. Her mom is an economist who consults for manufacturing and logistics companies in Ghana.
For young entrepreneurs who want to be like her, Addy said they should have the notion of coming to solve problems. She added that they should not wait for a perfect time to start a business.