Gozem, a Togolese startup whose app provides on-demand transportation, food delivery and courier services, is acquiring Moneex, a two-year-old fintech enterprise in neighboring Benin.
The deal’s value is undisclosed but will see Moneex’s founders take an equity stake, Gozem’s chief executive Raphael Dana told Semafor Africa. It will see Moneex’s founders join Gozem’s team to build out a mobile wallet service that will enable Gozem to obtain a license to offer a financial service it will call ‘Gozem Money’ to customers in Togo and Benin, Dana said.
Gozem bills itself as a super app, aspiring towards the ubiquity and usage of leading Chinese apps like WeChat and AliPay. It has 160,000 unique customers across four countries including Cameroon and Gabon, according to Dana. Its app offers motorcycle, tricycle and car rides, positioning as French-speaking West Africa’s answer to Uber. Gozem has raised $46.6 million from the World Bank’s International Finance Corporation and other investors, according to data tracker Pitchbook.
Moneex, which is based in Benin’s economic hub Cotonou, started off aiming to enable remittances between Europe and Benin through cryptocurrencies but changed direction in 2022 to provide multi-currency accounts to businesses and individuals. It was looking to raise money but rather than be a strategic investor, Gozem offered to buy the company and integrate it to serve Gozem’s existing services, Dana said.
It marks Gozem’s second acquisition since its launch in 2018, coming after its purchase of Delivroum, a food delivery outfit in Togo, in 2020 for an undisclosed amount.
Super app fever is considerably lower in Africa these days compared to half a decade ago when Chinese-backed startup OPay took Nigeria by storm with its roll out of food delivery, motorcycle-hailing, quick loans and online payments services in one app. OPay doesn’t call itself a super app anymore, focusing instead on being the most-used app for money transfers in a direct challenge to traditional banks.
But if OPay shelved its super app ambition after the Lagos government’s 2020 ban on commercial motorcycles, Gozem has no such inhibition and so powers on.
Motorcycles remain a crucial means of transportation in Lome and Cotonou, providing the underlying pillar for services like food delivery and courier services. Unlike in Lagos where regulators cited safety and security as risks associated with commercial motorcycles, directives on wearing helmets are enforced and diligently followed in the countries Gozem operates in, Dana said. It is the assurance that sees them stay on a super app vision.
Layering value-added services, like credit to enable 6,000 users to buy cars, is how Gozem hopes to draw more people into the app. But bringing a payments company in-house to build ‘Gozem Money’ is part of growth plans that include launching in other countries in the CFA currency region and prospecting for other acquisition opportunities, Dana said.
“We started in Togo and wanted to be in the Francophone region because currency stability was an attraction,” the CEO told Semafor Africa. “We wanted a country that was not too big, where we could learn without intense competition like in Nigeria.” It is proving a good bet so far, he said, as on-demand transportation remains a massive, daily basic need.
- South African telecoms major MTN said Ayoba, its super app candidate, has 30 million monthly active users. The app added 5 million users between May and September after adding Kenya and Tanzania to a base dominated by Nigeria, Ghana, and Côte d’Ivoire, the company said.