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Six-thousand moto-taxi drivers in Togo and Benin can now access vehicle financing after the West African super app Gozem and the International Finance Corporation (IFC) signed a $10-million partnership.
This enables moto-taxi drivers to purchase or rent electric bikes with the ultimate goal of increasing their take-home income. In this region, petrol motorcycles are the main mode of transport. With the Gozem and IFC partnership, drivers will also learn about the benefits of electric bikes which can significantly reduce carbon emissions.
According to a media release issued by Gozem, there are about 12 million moto-taxi drivers in West and Central Africa’s informal economy. Most of the drivers do not have access to traditional banks and micro-finance institutions to finance their vehicles. Instead, they rely on money lenders that charge higher interest rates, often above 70% annually.
Gozem, a super app that provides a host of services, including transport, e-commerce and financial services, has launched many programmes in in Francophone Africa to help drivers increase their income, decrease their cost of operation and access education.
It began providing vehicle financing to its drivers merely 14 months ago, and has already helped more than 2 000 drivers to acquire vehicles with affordable financing.
Through the new partnership, Gozem and IFC will finance new vehicles for a further 6 000 drivers with “millions more” said to be in the pipeline. Over the next year, Gozem and IFC will also test electric bikes in moto-taxi operating conditions and build a green battery swapping station network in Togo and Benin to demonstrate electric bikes can save drivers money.
“Gozem has truly changed my life,” says Yaotse Francis Eteh, a moto-taxi driver in Lomé, Togo. “With their app, they have allowed me to better manage my finances which allowed me to finish building my house.
“They have trusted me like no one else before by lending me money to buy two bikes, and they have given my wife the opportunity to participate in their entrepreneurship programme for women.”
Moto-taxi drivers in West and Central Africa are estimated to need access to $3 billion of credit facilities annually to finance the replacement of their vehicles, says Gozem co-CEO and co-founder Gregory Costamagna. “We are excited that IFC is placing their trust in Gozem to be at the forefront of providing affordable financing solutions to these underserved communities.”
“By working with Gozem, we will increase affordable and green financing solutions for moto-taxi drivers to shift to electric bikes. We hope IFC’s investment for these underserved communities will encourage other investors and accelerate the reduction of poverty and greenhouse gasses emissions in these markets,” adds Aliou Maiga, IFC’s regional director for West and Central Africa.
Gozem is widely known as Francophone Africa’s leading super app. It currently operates in 13 cities across Togo, Benin, Gabon, and Cameroon with a million registered users that have completed 10 million trips since its launch in November 2018.
The IFC – a member of the World Bank Group – is the largest global development institution focused on the private sector in emerging markets. It works in more than 100 countries, and last year committed a record $31.5 billion to private companies and financial institutions in developing countries.