Nigerian startup Topship, launched last year at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and growing ever since, hopes to become the “Flexport for African SMEs, connecting merchants on the continent with the rest of the world.
Launched in June 2020 during the COVID-19 lockdowns with limited resources, Topship has gone from strength to strength. It has over 300 recurring merchants, is growing by 20 per cent month-on-month, has opened eight fulfilment centres in Nigeria, and has over 30 active partners in its global network.
“We are a shipping platform that connects African merchants and SMEs with the rest of the world with imports and exports fulfilled within three to five working days. Nigerian merchants are realising that there’s a huge market outside the country, and we’re working hard to bridge that gap and ensure that they can access new markets and new audiences, and do this as easily as possible,” said Moses Enenwali, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Topship.
The startup’s platform allows merchants to select from a wide range of shipping options, like express, basic, and cargo, based on a variety of factors, needs and criteria, such as price and delivery time.
“We’ve also made it incredibly easy to ship cargo internationally for merchants,” said Enenwali.
The need for such a solution was made all the more clear by the COVID-19 crisis.
“It was interesting to observe that as the global economy was slowing down due to the lockdowns, demand for international shipping was skyrocketing. The obvious demand, clear pain points and gap in the market strengthened our conviction, so we started building,” Enenwali said.
“We like to say we’re building Flexport for African SMEs. Our goal is to be the shipping platform for African businesses.”
Bootstrapped at launch, Topship raised an angel round of funding in March of this year to help it hit its next set of milestones. Growth has been consistent.
“We’re growing rapidly, and are very aggressive about growth. We’ve maintained an average of 20 per cent monthly growth since we launched, reception has been good, and demand remains strong, which continues to reinforce our faith in the industry,” said Enenwali.
“We’ve built a web app that makes it very easy for merchants to request shipments, get different prices for different shipping services and import goods from around the world.”
Topship, which charges fees on transactions made on its platform and also revenue-sharing agreements with partners, is currently focused on making it easier for Nigerian merchants to access global markets by shipping their goods easily from importing to their doorsteps from anywhere in the world.
“We are already operating in every state in Nigeria, with plans to open processing centres nationwide. With Nigeria opening up to the world and increasing exports to other countries, we’re currently getting on the wave. We believe that local manufacturers in places like Lagos, Ibadan and Kano would like to take advantage of this opportunity, and in the next couple of years we would establish a presence across the continent, as it is our mission to serve African merchants,” said Enenwali.
“In addition to focusing on growth, we’ve also been heavy on making money every day and generating revenue, so that has been happening since day one, and we would continue to push that upwards.”