This startup wants to reduce freight charges by digitizing “Ask for Transport”
At the height of COVID-19 pandemic more than two years ago, Charles Thuo was observing the crumbling logistics industry but pondering how to sew it back. Perhaps better than it was before the health pandemic struck.
Restricted movement of people at the time meant limited movement of goods and services, a scenario that left transport and logistics industry almost on its knees, albeit for a short while as businesses turned to technology to salvage the situation.
“Covid showed us how important logistics is because without logistics the economy would just shut down because it highlighted the vulnerabilities and it was a wakeup call,” says Thuo.
Amidst all this disruptions, Thuo, a former engineering student and the founder of Apexloads saw the need to create a marketplace for transporters and cargo owners.
“Cargo owners usually have the cargo but they don’t have trucks and transporters have the trucks but they do not have cargo,” he tells me.
“So they have to work together and that’s where we come. We are trying to streamline that process,” he adds as we chat.
Just like any other application, Apexloads users are required to sign up first in order to begin posting services they offer or cargo which needs to be transported. This takes the “Ask for transport” signs those seeking transport services are accustomed to online.
Depending on the amount and the type of cargo to be transported, cargo owners are able to see transporters available in their location and transporters on the other hand are able to get notifications about transport requests within a 50km radius.
“Our platform is strictly for the groups of professionals in logistics. Whenever you sign up as a cargo owner we give you key functionalities. You can post cargo and at the same time you can search for trucks and the transporters can search for loads and also post available trucks,” says Thuo.
According to Thuo, Apexloads is targeting to cut the high transport cost in the East African region which is 50pc higher when compared to the US and EU and reduce wastage especially on agricultural produce.
As a transporter himself in the United States where he undertook his studies, Thuo says, barriers such as lack of efficient linkages between cargo owners and transporters are to blame for high cost of goods in the region.
“The reason why transport cost is expensive in East Africa is because of those inefficiencies. If a transporter from Nairobi takes goods to Kampala they know they are coming back empty so they charge more, but if they know they are going to find a return load they are not going to charge more or if I find a transporter that is already going that way it’s going to be cheap and that’s how you bring the cost down by making it much more efficient,” he affirms.
The firm has set up operations in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kampala and Dar es Salaam with the aim of connecting transporters and cargo owners who could be shippers, freight forwarders or a brokers.
As opposed to the commission based payment ride hailing services, Apexloads uses subscription model where transporters and cargo owners pay up to Ksh 1200 ($10) per month and between 5 to 10pc of the invoice amount.
The Apexloads marketplace which is available on android and iOS also has a two-way rating system where transporters and cargo owners can rate each other in order to build their profile and credibility on the platform.
However, cargo owners will still need to conduct necessary paperwork and go through customs when dealing with transit cargo.
The platform currently has 2,200 subscriptions and targets to reach 10,000 by the end of this year and 100,000 by the end of next years in Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and DR Congo.