Treepz founder Onyeka Akumah on how to succeed in transportation tech • TechCrunch

In sub-Saharan AfricaAccording to UN statistics, only 33% of the urban population have access to public transport, compared to 75% in Europe and North America. That means most of the continent faces challenges when it comes to finding new job opportunities, going to school, accessing health care, and just spending a night on the town.

This lack of access to transportation stands in stark contrast to other upside metrics across the African continent, such as growing access to equitable education and health care. In fact, Africa has the highest returns on education of any continent, with each school year increasing earnings by 11% for boys and 14% for girls. The combination of an increasingly educated workforce and still tenuous public transport means the way people move is ripe for disruption. Treepz, the Nigerian startup expanding its bus service across the continent, could be one of the main reasons for this disruption.

“We cannot continue to complain about the downturn. I would say it helps us become more resilient.” Treepz CEO Onyeka Akumah

Since founding Treepz, formerly Plentywaka, in Lagos in 2019, the startup has expanded west into Ghana and east into Uganda. Co-founder and CEO Onyeka Akumah said these locations will serve as launch pads for further expansion in the sub-Saharan region.

We caught up with Akumah, who we first interviewed a year ago, to catch up on Treepz’s progress and discuss why a conservative funding environment makes for better business, how the African startup scene is maturing and what it is needs to be successful in transportation technology.

The following interview, part of an ongoing series featuring founders building transportation companies, has been edited for length and clarity.

TechCrunch: You last closed a $2.8 million seed round in November. I assume you are currently collecting for your Series A. How are you finding the funding environment amid the economic downturn?

Onyeka Akumah: We are preparing to raise our Serie A and we are already interested. Some of our current investors want to invest but they are waiting for us to go public. We were about to enter the market before the economic downturn hit.

The financing environment has certainly changed with the downturn. The funding cycle used to take about six months to complete a round, and now we’re seeing it take 12 to 18 months to complete. You see that investors are taking a lot more time for due diligence.

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