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Startup Story

Faster shipping, no go-betweens. Amitruck overhauls East African shipping

Mark Mwangi founder of Amitruck

In Africa’s largest free trade area, a Kenyan logistics startup builds trust and transparency

With over 8,000 delivery trucks now moving across Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania, logistics startup Amitruck flourishes in the East African shipping market by cutting costs, red tape, and go-betweens. “We can get customers a delivery vehicle on-site in as little as an hour,” says Mark Mwangi, who founded Amitruck in 2018. “By matching cargo owners with trucking logistics professionals through a digital competitive bidding process, Amitruck brings trust and transparency into the African logistics sector.”

Logistics startups like Amitruck will play an outsized role in the newly debuted African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCTA), the world’s largest free-trade area by size, including 54 participating African countries with 1.2 billion people and $3 trillion in GDP. Through its technology-enabled platform, Amitruck connects cargo owners and transporters in Kenya and neighboring nations, bringing some measure of efficiency, trust, and transparency to a disorganized sector.

Logistics startups benefit from renewed focus on $200 billion intra-African transport market

“Amitruck is tapping into the $200 billion African transport market by reducing the need for middlemen, vetting delivery vehicle drivers, and offering an insurance service for shipped goods,” says Mwangi. “We are cutting shipping costs by 40% and making the logistics process more cost-effective.”

In 2021, logistics startups recovered from a funding slump and raised $86m, a 132% increase from the $37m raised in 2020. Although there is renewed interest and growing confidence in the sector, movement of goods and cargo is still expensive within Africa, as it costs five times more than in other regions, due to infrastructural and institutional gaps in the value chain. According to the World Bank, the African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) agreement is estimated to improve exports within the continent by 81%, and by 19% for exports outside the continent, within the next 15 years. This positive outlook will benefit startups like Amitruck that are well placed to diversify supply chain options for the continent.

Earlier this year, Amitruck announced a $4 million seed funding round, led by Better Tomorrow Ventures, bringing their total funds raised to date to $5 million. “We will use the funds to expand hiring, as we become the regional go-to platform for shippers and transporters doing in-country and cross-border business,” says Mwagni. “We can expand on our core value to businesses and customers. You can monitor where your vehicle is live on the app at all times. You don’t need to deal with multiple people to ensure a safe shipment, and each transaction is covered by insurance.”

Truckers can play their days, retailers can satisfy their customers’ shipping demands

After downloading the Amitruck app, users’ delivery needs are matched with truck drivers who fit their requirements. This allows for healthy competition among drivers on the platform, as opposed to a standardized pricing model for users.

Photo of Mark, the founder of Amitruck, a Black man wearing a blue shirt with a lion on it. Mark is standing next to an employee of Amitruck, a Black woman with a yellow blazer who is smiling.

Amitruck's founder, Mark Mwangi, stands next to an Amitruck employee.

Participating in Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa

Amitruck was selected out of over 1,000 applicants to join the sixth cohort of Google for Startups Accelerator: Africa. In 2021, the logistics startup received an equity-free cash award from the Google for Startups Black Founders Fund, which helps Black-led startups in Africa, Brazil, Europe, and the United States secure funding, strengthen communities, and create generational change. During the Accelerator program, the Amitruck team gained technical knowledge to improve the speed and accuracy of their app and ensure cargo trucks efficiently carry full loads.

Amitruck’s platform tools manage the driver fleet and track the overall usage of a truck by distance traveled. These tools are powered by Firebase to improve customer experience; Google Maps for routing drivers and tracking deliveries; and Android, on which the platform is built. Two years post-Accelerator, Amitruck has increased its fleet size by over 5,000 trucks and expanded routes internationally to neighboring Uganda, Rwanda, and Tanzania. “We really benefited from the access to experts, the networking with other founders and the Technical AI/ML mentors,” says Mwagni. “The program team for the Black Founders Fund were also very helpful with introducing us to investors who believed in our solution.”

Amitruck plays key role in transport partnerships as continent looks to smooth movement of goods

Amitruck’s platform has a wide range of users, from individual customers to companies like Moko and Living, a household retailer based in Nairobi that was able to expand its next-day delivery service through Amitruck’s platform. Along with boosting sales, this partnership has freed up Moko and Living’s time to focus more on their core business operations and designing furniture.

Amitruck recently partnered with Sanergy, a sanitation and recycling company that tackles waste management challenges within low-income areas of Nairobi. Using Amitruck’s platform, Sanergy operates sanitary units within the city’s informal settlements, promotes recycling, and conducts sustainable waste management. By partnering with Amitruck’s fleet Sanergy recycled 12,000 tons of waste, resulting in end products like organic fertilizer, animal feed, and clean fuel—without having to purchase new trucks of their own.

As AfCTA expands the scope and speed of intra-African delivery, trade, and transport, Amitruck is poised to play a key role in reducing the shipping costs of the continent's retailers. By embracing a digital platform and competitive bidding process, the logistics startup brings a new level of transparency and tracking to the emergent free trade zone in East Africa and points further.

Learn more about Amitruck