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  • Jabulile Sonya Ngwenya

Eazy Chain Blazes A Trail As An African Logistics Leader Within Francophone Africa


PIC CAPTION: Eazy Chain co-founder and CEO Sandon Wilfried Dabire built Eazy Chain, a user-friendly all-in-one digital platform that uses advanced tracking systems to monitor shipments and provide real-time updates to customers from the ground up. Image: Supplied / Eazy Chain


Eazy Chain, a Togo-based logistics startup specialises in the transportation and delivery of technology-related products through a user-friendly all-in-one digital platform that uses advanced tracking systems to monitor shipments and provide real-time updates to customers, helping African SMEs to thrive in the global marketplace. Eazy Chain co-founder and CEO Sandon Wilfried Dabire tells AfricArena’s Jabulile Sonya Ngwenya that building a digital platform aimed at simplifying shipping within Francophone Africa is no mean feat. 


While the world seemed to come to a standstill in 2020, during the covid pandemic, Dabire was frustrated with the process of building an import/export business within Cote d’Ivoire and throughout West Africa, particularly given the nature of the region’s fragmented logistics industry. Something had to be done and the global logistics industry was feeling the squeaky wheels of change. 


“I experienced firsthand the complexities and high costs associated with international trade for African SMEs. These challenges stifled my own entrepreneurial journey and limited the growth potential of countless businesses across the continent.” 

 

Fuelled by a desire to break down these barriers, Dabire initially started Eazy Chain in November 2020 as a solo founder and encountered interesting challenges and unexpected opportunities in this unique economic landscape where businesses had to pivot in order to thrive. 


Dabire recalls that the challenges he encountered included “disruptions in global supply chains due to lockdowns and restrictions which made it difficult to secure partnerships with logistics providers, particularly as the overall economic slowdown at the time made investors more cautious.” 


He notes that investors are cautious when investing in Africa, particularly with the current funding winter which has forced startups to make use of lean operations management strategies. 


The unexpected opportunities came through the pandemic-induced climate which drove people into the digital economy, driving the e-commerce industry forward. Dabire says, “The pandemic-driven surge in e-commerce highlighted the need for efficient international trade solutions for African SMEs. Increased internet adoption during lockdowns might have presented a receptive audience for a user-friendly online platform like Eazy Chain.”


“By focusing on the opportunities created by the changing landscape and demonstrating how Eazy Chain can streamline trade processes even amidst disruptions, the team has navigated the initial challenges and positioned itself for growth,” says Dabire. 


Two years later after starting Eazy Chain, Dabire attended a startup event in Dakar, Senegal when destiny intervened and he met Aymane Lbaze, a talented tech entrepreneur who understood Dabire’s frustrations with the status quo within Africa’s logistics industry. “Aymane recognized the immense potential for a tech-driven solution and he was instantly on board,” Dabire says. “This chance meeting between two individuals passionate about fostering change within Africa’s logistics landscape and who had complementary skill sets laid the foundation for Eazy Chain.”


Lbaze’s expertise in building user-friendly tech platforms complemented Dabire’s deep understanding of the African business landscape and when these skill sets melded, it enabled the two entrepreneurs to, in Dabire’s words, “empower African SMEs by simplifying international trade and unlocking a new era of growth and prosperity on the African continent.” 


Lbaze came on board as a co-founder and CTO and together, the two co-founders took Eazy Chain to another level, positioning it as a logistics leader within the African and global marketplace. “This shift reflects a strategic decision to build a stronger team for sustainable growth,” Dabire notes.


Dabire shares that what makes Eazy Chain so successful and unique within the African market, particularly in Francophone Africa is that “Eazy Chain stands out by offering a user-friendly, all-in-one platform for African SMEs. We go beyond simple logistics, providing features like payments, documentation, and data-driven insights. Our deep understanding of the African market allows us to tailor our approach and empower businesses to thrive in international trade. This unique combination positions us to become a game-changer for SMEs across the continent.” 


It was not easy building a tech-driven logistics solution Dabire emphasizes. He says he used $25,000 from his personal savings to bootstrap Eazy Chain’s initial operations. “When the Baobab Network recognized our venture’s potential, they invested a $50,000 pre-seed ticket last year, providing vital capital to fuel further development. This combination of personal investment and early-stage funding allowed Eazy Chain to take off and establish a strong foundation for future growth.” 


“Bootstrapping and maximizing resource efficiency to minimize reliance on external funding”, Dabire says, is an essential skill founders need to have in their arsenal to be able to steer their startups through during the funding winter. Another one is to “explore alternative funding avenues like debt financing or revenue-based financing and to be able to demonstrate a clear path to profitability with strong unit economics to become more attractive to investors.”


Dabire says that to date, the $50,000 pre-seed investment they received from the Baobab Network was Eazy Chain's largest funding to date. “These funds were strategically allocated to fuel critical aspects of growth: developing a user-friendly mobile application, recruiting talent to strengthen the team, and implementing targeted marketing campaigns to reach African SMEs.”


Eazy Chain showcased its innovative platform to investors attending the AfricArena Dakar FinTech, Mobility & Logistics Summit in Dakar, Senegal in 2023 and received attention. “Receiving recognition from a respected organization like AfricArena adds credibility to Eazy Chain's business model and its potential for success,” Dabire smiles, acknowledging the impact AfricArena has had on creating visibility and exposure for Eazy Chain’s operations.


“This validation can be invaluable when attracting investors and customers. Moreover, the award ceremony likely presented opportunities to connect with important figures in the African startup ecosystem, including investors, mentors, and potential collaborators. These connections can be crucial for future fundraising and growth.”


Dabire says that for the year 2024, “Eazy Chain is seeking $500,000 in funding to accelerate our growth and solidify our position as a leading force in simplifying international trade for African SMEs. These funds will be strategically deployed to the following areas: Fuel user acquisition to expand our marketing reach and partnerships to significantly increase our active user base across Africa; enhance platform functionality to integrate features like mobile money payments for seamless transactions and potentially explore AI-powered tools for optimized shipping; geographical expansion to enter between two to three new African countries, tailoring the platform to address regional variations and regulations and to bolster our team through recruiting additional talent in key areas like software development, business development, and marketing to support our expansion plans.”


Dabire’s passion for creating a better Africa for all through seamless logistics operations shines through. “I am passionate about Eazy Chain's mission because it dismantles barriers for African entrepreneurs. Simplifying international trade empowers them to compete globally, fueling economic growth and creating jobs across the continent. Seeing businesses flourish and African economies thrive is what drives me and the Eazy Chain team every day.”


No two days in Dabire’s daily routine are the same, and he shares that one of the best pieces of advice he received from a mentor was to “pursue a path that aligns with your long-term goals and interests.” This, he says, has kept him focused and humble.  


“As the CEO and founder of Eazy Chain, I spend my day overseeing daily shipping operations, ensuring smooth logistics processes, and managing the team and I also dedicate time to strategic planning, seeking funding opportunities, and exploring programs that can accelerate the company's growth.” He adds that finding time to collaborate with his team to innovate and improve the platform is important to ensure that it “continuously meets the evolving needs of customers at any given time.” 


Leading a logistics startup is not for the faint of heart, as one needs stoutness to navigate the complex world of logistics and agility to handle unexpected curve balls. Being agile, Dabire says, is an essential ingredient for any founder interested in building a logistics startup to succeed. “Never give up and be agile to pivot when necessary.”


The biggest challenges that the Eazy Chain team has faced in their startup journey of building the platform so far are multi-faceted, says Dabire. “One significant challenge was establishing credibility in the logistics industry, especially as a new player. To address this, we focused on building strong relationships with clients and partners, delivering excellent service, and leveraging technology to optimize operations. Another challenge was securing funding to scale the business. We overcame this hurdle by participating in accelerator programs, pitching to investors, and continuously refining the business model to demonstrate growth potential and attract investment.”


Through resilience, strategic decision-making, and a customer-centric approach, Dabire and his team skilfully navigated these challenges and positioned Eazy Chain for success in the competitive logistics landscape.


Looking toward the future, Dabire says Eazy Chain’s future plans include “expanding to new markets like Benin and Côte d'Ivoire, enhancing the platform's features based on user feedback, forming strategic partnerships with key players in the logistics industry, and continuing to innovate to stay ahead of the competition.”


For more information about AfricArena and our upcoming events, visit our website at www.africarena.com




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