Nigerian startup OnePort 365 is a digital freight forwarding platform that makes it easier to move cargo to, from and within Africa.
Formed in 2019, OnePort 365 has developed a freight forwarding platform that enables traders to efficiently and conveniently move cargo, providing complete transparency, visibility and control, minimising cost inefficiencies and eliminating time and effort inefficiencies resulting from traditional supply chain management methods.
“We are building an operating system for cross-border trade in Africa, helping traders to manage their freight processes through a digital platform that enables seamless freight forwarding and other value-added services. We believe managing freights should be as easy as booking a flight or ordering a ride-hailing service and we are building the operating system to make this possible,” said Hio Sola-Usidame, CEO and founder of OnePort 365.
Before launching OnePort 365, Sola-Usidame ran a traditional freight management company, meaning he was very familiar with many of the challenges that face traders across the continent.
“Traders were taking up to 14 days just to get rates from different freight services and the process was heavily paper-based, which presented a wide range of efficiency and productivity challenges,” he said.
With OnePort 365, traders no longer have to wait up to two weeks to compare the best rates from different service providers. With pre-negotiated rates, they can explore competitive offers on the platform, and book freights in 30 seconds or less. Traders can also connect with shipping and inland transportation vendors, and manage the entire process – from booking to payment – on one single platform.
Traders get GPS-enabled, real-time visibility of their shipments and they can view all documents relating to the shipment via the platform, eliminating the laborious process of physically retrieving these documents from offices or shipping line centres.
An innovative idea, but it was the COVID-19 pandemic that proved a catalyst for OnePort365.
“Traders needed to explore other options for managing their freights and cargo that didn’t need them to be present in person. I remember in the middle of the global pandemic when social distancing was the norm across the world that people were still queuing outside shipping lines centres trying to get bills of lading documents for their freights to verify their cargo. In other parts of the world, these processes have been digitised, and we believe this should be the same in Africa as well,” said Sola-Usidame.
OnePort 365 is doing just that, and has already expanded operations to neighbouring Ghana, with plans to move into additional markets. Those plans were bolstered by a US$5 million seed round raised earlier this year, led by Mobility 54, the venture capital arm of Toyota Tsusho and CFAO Group.
“We are also exploring some opportunities in Kenya, with a view to setting up operations in that market. The status quo across several African markets are quite similar, and we are passionate about using our solutions to unlock opportunities for traders and other stakeholders across the continent,” Sola-Usidame said.
Africa contributes an increasingly significant amount to global maritime trade, with a reported 12 per cent of the 811 million containers handled at ports worldwide. Africa’s clearing and forwarding market is also growing, with latest figures suggesting a market size of US$4.2 billion and a projected 12.5 per cent growth with new services emerging.
“However, a wide range of challenges including congestion at ports, difficulty with accessing effective service providers and complex payment systems have resulted in increased costs, inefficiencies and many missed opportunities for traders,” Sola-Usidame said.
OnePort365’s aim is to solve those challenges, and in doing so build out its business. The startup makes money by charging booking fees and providing other value added services.
“Our revenue has grown 420 percent since we started operations in 2019,” said Sola-Usidame.