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Pivoted Ghanaian Startup Swoove Helps SMEs Access Logistics Services

Startups

Nov. 30, 2021, 10:32 a.m.

A startup founded by university friends pivoted away from its initial model to find product-market fit in the logistics space to the extent it has been accepted into renowned accelerator programmes. Ghana’s Swoove has quite the story.

Swoove connects businesses with network logistics services to enable them to reach customers across the continent. The startup aims to create technology to standardise and democratise logistics services for all businesses at the most affordable price.

The team started working together straight out of university in 2018 and has been bootstrapping and freelancing to keep the business alive. Its original product, Curiashops, was a website-builder platform that aimed to help any small business set up a free website within five minutes, with just a phone number.

“After a year of working on it, we realised that a major problem for our customers was delivery – it was expensive and not easily accessible, making the platform incredibly difficult to grow. Just like how e-commerce sites require payments, we realised the e-commerce sector also needs logistics – seamless ease of access to affordable delivery, which was missing from the market,” said Kwaku Tabiri, Swoove’s CEO.

“Moreover, in the wake of the pandemic, the e-commerce space became increasingly competitive, propagating the need for logistics. More people fled to online commerce, and that’s when we saw the opportunity. Nobody was solving the delivery problem.”

Thus, Swoove was born.

“In Africa, the cost of delivery is 35 per cent to 55 per cent of the cost of the product, pressured by issues such as weak infrastructure, limited delivery options and poor supply chain analytics. In Ghana, available third party delivery services are decentralised, and thus operate inefficiently due to lack of knowledge and technology,” Tabiri said. “This can be prohibitive when you are trying to make sales online, leading to lost sales. This is where we come in.”

Swoove’s platform connects delivery companies via the web, app USSD and API, with e-commerce businesses. Using batching and routing algorithms, customers can schedule ahead and pay up to 50 per cent less for deliveries, which Tabiri said gives it an edge in the market.

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“Our technology also enables the delivery companies to be efficient and do more deliveries on the go, while businesses get more affordable deliveries. Everyone wins,” said Tabiri.

So far, Swoove has served more than 1,500 small businesses and delivered more than 15,000 packages. This kind of traction has made it a popular startup with accelerators, if not yet equity investors. It took part in the MEST Express early-stage accelerator, coming first and winning a US$15,000 grant and then banked another US$120,000 in grant capital from Catalyst Fund. With the startup only operating in Accra for now, this cash will expand to 15 other regions of Ghana by the first quarter of next year.

“We currently run a commission model and take a percentage of every delivery we make. We’ve done about US$30,000 in revenue since we began,” Tabiri said.

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