Kenya’s BNPL startup for motorcycle taxi riders secures $623K from Japanese companies

Image credit: Unchorlight Kenya Limited

Unchorlight Kenya Limited (UKL) is offering a BNPL (Buy Now, Pay Later) service called Zaribee, exclusively for “boda boda” motorcycle taxi riders in the Eastern African country. The company announced on Friday that it has secured 90 million yen (about $623,000 US) from Honda Trading and Skylight Consulting. Honda Trading is a trading company under one of Japan’s major automobile/motorcycle manufacturers while Skylight Consulting is a consulting firm affiliated with Tokyo-based IT outsourcing giant Transcosmos.

UKL is a local subsidiary in Kenya of a joint venture established in 2021 by Skylight Consulting and Africa-focused seed-stage VC Uncovered Fund.

In Africa, financial services are underdeveloped, making it hard for people to obtain unsecured loans. Cab drivers are particularly unrewarded despite their harsh working environment. UKL provides a Rent-to-Own motorcycle sales service to self-employed motorcycle taxi riders. The service lets several riders form a group, which encourages them to repay on a community-trust basis leveraging the visibility of credit. The rider can own their motorcycle after completing installment payments for 18 months.

Since its launched back in September of 2021, UKL has sold motorcycles to more than 250 in the first nine months. The company also sells insurance to riders, introduces mobility service jobs including motorbike taxi as well as conducts educational activities on safe driving.

In this particular niche, Kenya-based Japanese startup Hakki Africa is offering a credit scoring-based finance for used cars for cab drivers, which announces 220 million yen ($1.9 million US in the exchange rate at the time) in a series A round funding back in March. Another startup Moove, offering automobile financing for self-employed workers in sub-Saharan Africa, secured $105 million US in a series A2 round from multiple investors including Japan’s Mitsubishi UFJ Innovation Partners in the same month.