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Rwanda’s SafeMotos Changes Name To CanGo, Expands To DR Congo After Raising Funding

Rwandan on-demand transport startup SafeMotos has rebranded to CanGo and expanded operations into the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) after securing its largest funding round yet earlier this year.

Founded in Kigali in 2014, SafeMotos uses on-demand and vehicle telematics technology to connect users with vetted motorcycle taxi drivers through its mobile app.

After more than 500,000 trips completed in what it now says was its pilot market, SafeMotos has now expanded to Kinshasa, the capital of the DRC, and rebranded as CanGo Africa. Co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) Barrett Nash told Disrupt Africa the startup had already completed 1,000 trips in Kinshasa.

He said he believed Kinshasa was among the most exciting places to launch a startup in Africa.

“Imagine getting into Lagos before Jumia, or Nairobi before Uber. This is where Kinshasa is today. A super city of 10-15 million people with great 3G/4G and a completely open competitive playing field,” he said.

“We see Kinshasa as an incredible opportunity unique in Africa. If we can just work fast enough we believe we can be a dominant super-app that leapfrogs the crowded ecosystems of Lagos and Nairobi in a way that locks in Kinshasa, the DRC and then Central Africa. For us anything that can move on a motorcycle seems logical to be accessed via a single smartphone application, and we see moving from taxi services into supermarket delivery, Amazon-style purchases, professional Yellow Pages-style services, and of course payments, as exciting opportunities on the horizon.”

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With this expansion of the scope of the app, Nash said a rebrand made sense, with the CanGo identity fitting the startup “like a glove”. Kigali, meanwhile, will now become the startup’s “innovation lab”, where it will build and test new products.

“Right now we are excited to be testing e-bikes with Ampersand and even more excited to have launched CanGo Rwanda On Demand, a new feature influenced by Glovo and Rapii where you can “order whatever you want that fits on a bike” via WhatsApp for business,” said Nash.

“The goal of Kigali is to experiment with new products, master them, then bring them into Kinshasa and other future markets. We have been on the record for years saying Kigali is the test kitchen of Africa and are proud that our actions reflect our words.”

CanGo earlier this year completed its largest equity funding round to date to enable it to launch aggressively in Kinshasa. The seven-figure round came from an international consortium that includes investors from Silicon Valley, Europe, Dubai and Australia, and Nash said more investment was on the horizon.

“We’re looking forward to raising more funds over 2020 after getting our sea legs in operations in Kinshasa so that we can quickly roll our additional on demand services and target other geographical markets in Central Africa,” he said.

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