Kwik Delivery is a Nigerian startup, an on-demand, last-mile delivery platform that connects businesses to independent delivery riders dubbed Kwiksters. The firm recently raised about €1.7 million in its pre-series A financing round to expand into new markets. Founder and Chief Executive Officer, ROMAIN POIROT-LELLIG, in this interview with SODIQ OMOLAOAYE, says the firm is redefining Nigeria’s logistics industry by providing requisite
technology solutions to spur growth.
Kwik delivery began operation in Lagos in 2019. How have you fared?
KWIKis a technology company. We are not a logistics company but we provide technology for logistics companies.
Hence, we are purely technology-driven. We are creating a digital ecosystem for digital transformation of African commerce and as a firm, we strongly believe technology is a tool to empower entrepreneurs and businesses. We started our first service in Nigeria as a last-mile delivery technology and we are empowering and leveraging on existing Nigerian resources such as delivery partners, riders.
At Kwik, we use technology to connect them to customers that do not know how to find them or whether they are reliable or unreliable, available or unavailable, expensive or affordable and so on. We help the customers gather this information and help them connect in a way that is safe. We have been operating in Lagos but we are now in Abuja since the past two months. Currently, we have over 60,000 customers in Nigeria that are using our services.
We passed the 500 daily deliveries after only 15 months of operation.
Though it is still small, it is growing very fast.
We also have several very innovative additional services in the works that will take the same asset-light, market-organiser approach to warehousing and online payments. There are a number of innovative ways we can participate in that market. A lot of Fintech companies are doing great job in Nigeria like Paystack, Flutterwave, Paga and many others. We are, however, working at a solution to bring close to 100 percent uptime because a lot them lose customers when the customers cannot pay online.
How can you describe the startup ecosystem in Nigeria?
Coming from France, where we have a very lively tech ecosystem, I was particularly impressed by the dynamism and diversity of the Nigerian startup scene. It is really the leading ecosystem in Africa and it sets the standard in many ways.
Nigeria is at a very important moment because of its many startups, hence, there is an opportunity to be seized. We see that with Covid-19 pandemic and how perceptions have changed very much in terms of how economy should work
as a result of it. This is a moment that should be used to seize leadership on the African level in the digital economy, beyond the startup scene, strictly speaking.
The startups in Nigeria also have access to a lot of funding which is very critical. Also, with exits such as the acquisition of Paystack by US company, Stripe, it is very important for international investors to see that Nigerian companies can be acquired by a foreign company and this is important for the image of the country on the international level.
What this means is that Nigerian companies have attained a level which is very important and of course, it is the first market in Africa. So the ecosystem is very lively.
Nevertheless, it would be useful that there are better school for courses like software engineering, computer science because it seems young Nigerians are in demand of that, hence, the country should find a way to improve in that aspect. Financial and legal stability are also important aspects.
How is the firm contributing to job creation in Nigeria?
There are two levels. We are two French people in the company. All other staff is Nigerian. We have a lot of female staff. Overall, our staff strength is currently 60 and we grow by 10 per cent every month. We rely on Nigerian staff for all our operations and contribute by bringing some international standard processes. We learn from our Nigerian staff and they also learn from us. That way, we are able to maintain good relationship.
What are your expansion plans outside Lagos and Abuja?
We are looking at Ogun, Ibadan, Port Harcourt, Onitsha, Kaduna and even Ghana. And this would be done within the 12-18 months.
What have been the challenges so far?
My major challenge was the difficulty in convincing foreign investors two years ago at the beginning that Nigeria is a place worth investing into. I am happy that I was able to convince them and now we have reached a certain size. What I learnt is that it is all about determination and strength to push. We are
very ambitious as we aim for Kwik to be present in every African city between Dakar and Djibouti.
What are your views on Nigeria’s logistics industry?
I think there are many good operators in the sector and they are very specialised. Of course, like everything in Africa businesses, there are a lot of fragmentation and peculiarity. What this means is we have many operators but they are not integrated with one another. The key for logistics to bring growth is to have integration so every company can work with one another and interact. And this is what technology does by connecting companies that don’t have same criteria or process or same forms. Sometimes, it is even difficult to find phone numbers or addresses of some firms in Nigeria but with technology, you bring people to same level of information so people can collaborate and create efficiency. In Lawrence Lessig’swords, “computer code is law”, and laws organise markets.
That is what we do at Kwik. We connect the dots in the Nigeria’s logistics landscape. By connecting the dots, we empower them do their job effectively.
What kind of relationship do you have with Jumia presently?
Though we are in partnership with almost one thousand logistics firms, but we are not in partnership with Jumia. We are looking at Jumia very carefully because they are genuine pioneer in Nigeria as well as Africa. We have talked to them but we don’t work with them at the moment. Coopetition and interoperability are the key words in logistics and it means that everybody should work with everybody.
What is your assessment of government’s policies regarding startups in Nigeria?
Nigeria is a young democracy. A lot of people want to do good in the government. The startup ecosystem needs to be organised and to have a coherent representation in order to help the government foster the right environment. This is because government can not work in a vacuum. I used to be a successful lobbyist in France for the video games industry. I was participating at the forefront of creating a successful ecosystem in France for video games. I learned a lot by doing that. So, for government to make policy recommendations and implementation. They need somebody to interact with, therefore it is the responsibility of the Nigerian startup ecosystem to have a representative that is legitimate, professional and organised with clear vision. Thereafter, the government can position itself in response to that.
However, I think a lot is being done in that regard because the have a lot of talented Nigerians pushing for the reorganisation of the tech ecosystem. Nigerian entrepreneurs and pundits such as Aboyeji Iyinoluwa and Tomiwa Aladekomo are working very hard in that direction and I fully support them.
With this, the government would be more proactive once the ecosystem has decided what it wants.