A Nigerian transportation company has been accepted into the 2021 class of the Techstars Toronto accelerator program. The Lagos-based company, Plentywaka, is a bus-booking, “Uber-for-buses,” platform designed to connect commuters with busses via an app, according to TechCrunch.
Founders Onyeka Akumah, Johnny Ena, John Shaibu and Afolabi Oluseyi will join the accelerator program backed with new funding and a new focus. Plentywaka found success in its first year of operation in 2019, transporting an average of 1,500 passengers daily and over 100,000 rides within the first six month with hopes of expanding their operations even further by offering a car service.
When the pandemic forced the company to operate at 60 percent capacity, they received an external early-stage investment of $300,000 pre-seed from its parent company, EMFATO, and early-stage investors — Microtraction and Niche Capital — in August 2020. The company then decided to narrow the scope of their business on bus transportation and partnered with major bus companies across Nigeria.
Currently they have expanded their services to three cities — serving as an aggregator for commuters to choose from an option of bus companies, fares, and bookings, according to TechCrunch.
Co-founder Johnny Ena says they are focused on finding solutions to interstate travel in Nigeria.
“Plentywaka is getting to a point where we’re now becoming more like an aggregator as we onboard transportation companies on our platform,” Ena told TechCrunch. “Interstate travel in Nigeria is data insufficient, and we want to be the first company to solve this.”
The solutions this Nigerian startup creates will be able to be universally applied to urban transportation challenges, according to the managing director of Techstars Toronto, Sunil Sharma.
“We think that Plentywaka’s technology and approach in improving the lives of citizens and their daily commute needs can be brought over to cities in the West just as they are in Africa,” Sharma said.
Plentywaka is one of few Nigerian companies to make its way to Canada and, with the support of Techstars, will be carrying out their plans to expand.