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Lori Systems, a logistics startup headed by SA man, nets ‘undisclosed’ Series-A round


Lori Systems — a Nairobi-based logistics startup started by a South African, Kenyan and Togolese — has secured a Series-A round led by Asian private equity firm Hillhouse Capital and Beijing-based Crystal Stream Capital.

Lori System’s tech-enabled and operations-driven marketplace connects transport to cargo.

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The startup was founded in 2016 by Josh Sandler (pictured above) who is also the company’s CEO, Jean-Claude Homawoo and Ernest Gichini Ngaruiya — who are from South Africa, Togo and Kenya, respectively.

Several VCs and angel investors including DST, EchoVC, Timon Capital, Raba, Flexport CEO Ryan Peterson, Flutterwave and Andela founder Iyinoluwa Aboyeji and Endeavor also participated in the round.

Singapore-based news and intelligence platform Deal Street Asia said in an article last Friday (8 November) that the Series-A round amounted to nearly $30-million.

Lori Systems was founded in 2016 by Josh Sandler, Jean-Claude Homawoo and Ernest Gichini Ngaruiya

However Lori Systems maintained in a statement issued later that same day on Medium that the deal’s amount remains undisclosed.

“Earlier today, a press release was issued in Mandarin by a Lori investor in regards to our fundraising activities.

“Subsequent unofficial translations of the release into English mischaracterised our Series A raise, so we wanted to take the opportunity to clarify. Lori concluded a (to date unannounced) Series A raise for an undisclosed amount,” Lori Systems said in the post on Medium.

Lori Systems’ Homawoo commented on the fundraising and the figure in a TechCrunch article also published on 8 November. “Lori has never released fundraising details as we feel it is a vanity metric that distracts from what matters most: our mission of lowering the cost of goods in frontier markets,” he said.

Ventureburn sought comment from Lori Systems on details of the round and what the funding will be used for but had not received a response at the time of publication.

Company CEO from Johannesburg

Sandler, who is the company’s CEO, is a former investment banker who is originally from South Africa and studied at UCT and Harvard according to his LinkedIn profile. His Facebook page lists him as being from Johannesburg, but living in Nairobi.

Homawoo is from Togo and Ngaruiya is from Kenya, according to a Financial Times article and Digest Africa story, respectively.

Digest Africa reported in the same story, in December last year, that Lori Systems raised $6.2-million collectively in 2018.

The 2019 AppsAfrica Innovation Awards Best Mobility Solution winner last month announced in a statement on Medium that it had expanded to Nigeria. The startup also has operations in Uganda, Ethiopia.

Editor’s note (18 November 2019): Hillhouse communication assistant Amanda Hou told Ventureburn that Hillhouse prefers to be called an “Asian private equity firm”. The firm was initially founded in Hong Kong and also has offices in Beijing and Singapore. It draws most of its investment capital from investors in North America.

Featured image: Lori Systems CEO and co-founder Josh Sander (Facebook)

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