About six years ago, Peter Kariuki and Barrett Nash set forth to tackle the rising challenge of traffic jam development in the busy areas of Kigali, Rwanda’s capital with their innovative startup, Safemotos. Developing on the Uber model which they operated, they re-branded Safemotos as CanGo Africa last year after securing $1.1M in funding while also expanding to Kinshasa, the capital of the Democratic Republic of Congo(DRC). A development that saw their startup change from a simple ride-hailing app operating in Kigali to a superapp, where within the same mobile application customers can choose between several different on-demand services. A model which they termed as “profitable” in one of their articles.
After more that 6 years and 600,000 trips , the duo decided to call it quits. They had claimed to be on a path to more funding, with the goal being to close a $1M SAFE round by the end of December, 2019 to give it a push for larger Series A round in 2020. The plan had however failed to materialize, despite investor’s enthusiasm and interests being speculated as high. The team was only able to record a $180,000 commitment to the SAFE which, according to the co-founders, were not sufficient to bring a healthy Series A without an “irresponsible risk to the investors willing to put that money in”
“CanGo had a choice to change strategy: fire everyone and bootstrap with a brand new pivot, or close. We tried the bootstrap strategy in Rwanda: while we achieved positive unit economics, we weren’t able to tell a story of traction to leverage more funds,” the co-founder said
“Kinshasa is among the most hostile environments on earth, it needs proper capital to make a company successful here. This is not a shoestring environment. We’ve decided to make the challenging decision to stop while there is still enough money in the bank to pay our employees what we owe them.”