Established in 2015 by business partners Adetayo Bamiduro and Chinedu Azodoh, Metro Africa Xpress (MAX) has been positioning itself as a key player in Africa's mobility industry.
Using technology, MAX specialises in transporting both people and products. The company is also committed to ensuring that Africa's mobility challenges are solved in a sustainable manner. This it does by incorporating the use of electric vehicles.
Recently, the company raised $31 million, thus bringing its total equity and debt financing to $70 million. It has also announced a number of strategic partnerships, including one with ride-hailing giant Bolt to co-finance the purchase of 10, 000 low-emission cars for drivers in Nigeria.
We spoke to Chief Executive Officer, Adetayo Bamiduro, to learn more about these developments and the company's commitment to bringing the future of mobility to Africa now.
BI Africa: It’s been over two years since the ban on commercial motorbikes in Lagos dealt a serious blow to many Nigerian ride riding startups. Apparently, your company has since pivoted. Talk us through what has been happening ever since.
Adetayo Bamiduro: When my co-founder and I started MAX we had a vision of a future where, by empowering independent commercial drivers, we could transform the way Africa moves and unleash a wave of growth and prosperity on our continent. For this reason, our business has continually evolved - identifying the key pain points faced by independent commercial drivers and developing solutions for them.
When we launched MAX, we sought to address the challenge of predictable gig-flow to independent commercial drivers. This is why our first few products focused on using technology to enable drivers to tap into last-mile delivery and ride-hailing opportunities. These products helped us understand our customers better and highlighted what needed addressing.
One of the key insights we gleaned was that limited access to vehicle finance was really holding back independent commercial drivers. Our data showed that 96% of drivers were excluded from the formal financial system, leading to a reliance on unsafe and inefficient vehicles. This led us to develop our Vehicle Finance product - which now forms the core of our business. We have already disbursed over $5 million in responsible vehicle finance in the form of lease-to-own agreements, to over 7,000 drivers.
BI Africa: How would you describe your business model in its current form?
Adetayo Bamiduro: We are committed to building Africa’s largest mobility technology platform - unlocking value by empowering independent commercial drivers. We are already offering a selection of value-added services such as health and vehicle insurance, plus roadside assistance and licensing support to drivers. Our next focus area is to develop products helping independent commercial drivers (and others in their communities) save money more effectively when times are good, whilst providing responsible credit for adverse times.
We also recognise that whilst two and three-wheeler vehicles likely hold the key to unlocking the benefits of mobility in Africa, they also pose a significant environmental hurdle. For this reason, we’re investing in further increasing our lead in the electric vehicle space in Africa.
BI Africa: Late last year, it was announced that MAX and Bolt partnered to co-finance the purchase of 10,000 low-emission cars for drivers in Nigeria. How is that going so far?
Adetayo Bamiduro: Despite global supply chain constraints, we have already deployed the first batch of vehicles under the umbrella of this partnership. Even more importantly, Bolt has also agreed to become a key partner in MAX’s upcoming entry into the Ghana market.
BI Africa: As a company focused on solving Africa's mobility challenges, why do you believe it's so important to do this using electric vehicles?
Adetayo Bamiduro: At MAX, we believe electric vehicles are the future and core to enabling safe, affordable, and sustainable mobility.
They are the solution to the long-standing issue of CO2 emissions. At current rates, pollution from 2 and 3 wheelers in Africa is estimated to hit 1.7 Gigatonnes in annual CO2 emissions by 2030 – equivalent to the emissions from 2 million Boeing 737s every year.
Whilst it is essential we get people and goods to where they need to be, this cannot be at the expense of a sustainable future and the next generation. Hence, we are championing the transition to electric vehicles and believe it is the way forward.
BI Africa: Is Africa really ready for the transition to electric vehicles?
Adetayo Bamiduro: We believe it is. However, it is not as simple as merely replicating local vehicles and infrastructure developed for international markets. At MAX, we have built up a proven lead in this space, by directly owning the design process for our electric motorcycles and three-wheelers. Our technology is developed in Nigeria and informed by our understanding and insights of Africa’s unique needs and conditions.
This is why study after study has shown that MAX’s M3 (our latest electric motorcycle model) is as affordable and reliable as their internal combustion counterparts while producing a fraction of the emissions. The latest is a one year research study published by RMI and the Shell Foundation which leveraged MAX bikes for farmer use in Gbamu Gbamu, Ogun State.
BI Africa: Let's talk about MAX’s growth strategy. Where do you see the company headed in the next five years?
Adetayo Bamiduro: Our next steps are driven by our clarity of purpose – which is to transform Africa by building the continent’s largest mobility technology platform. We have an immediate goal to scale from our current 7,000 drivers to 100,000 by the end of 2023, and to grow our footprint to ten cities across Africa. We are also committed to adding to the services available on our technology platform - including more advanced financial services over the next year.
BI AFRICA: You recently raised $31 million. Tell us more about that funding round. Are there any more funding rounds on the horizon?
Adetayo Bamiduro: So far, MAX has raised over $70 million in equity and debt financing from international investors and trusted VCs.
In December 2021, we announced a successful $31 million fund raise – the first close of a Series B funding round. It was led by global private equity platform, Lightrock – their first investment in the African mobility space – and Global Ventures – the leading MEA-focused venture capital firm. The oversubscribed round included new investor venture debt from Proparco, the French development finance institution, via its Digital Africa Bridge Fund, and existing investor Novastar Ventures.
Investment has also been received from Goodwell Investments and Shell Foundation.
The diversity of our investors – in geography and focus – is a major endorsement of the strategy we have implemented to date, the uniqueness of our proposition and the scale of the opportunities we are harnessing.Read Full Story