Small automobile dealerships litter the roads from Berger to Ajah in the city of Lagos and other major cities in Nigeria and Africa. Compared to its population of over a billion, the continent has a rather poor automotive industry. “The motorization rate on the continent is only 44 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants. This is far below the global average of 180 vehicles per 1,000 inhabitants”. A huge number of the cars on the market are resold second-hand automobiles, sold by unstructured car dealers without a fleet of cars or even a car lot. Think of how many times you’ve seen a WhatsApp or Facebook ad selling a used car. These automobile dealers are small independent dealers and small businesses make up a large percentage of businesses worldwide, with sub-Saharan Africa alone having 44 million micro, small and medium enterprises These numbers mean that a large portion of the African economy is held up by small businesses and for these businesses to thrive, they need financing.
Typically, banks tend to focus on bigger businesses and loan stipulations are often restrictive, with high-interest rates that make it difficult for auto dealers and other businesses to access much-needed financing. The COVID-19 pandemic also impacted this fledgling industry, and in 2019, the sales of new vehicles in Africa decreased by 4% to 1.17 million units, compared to 1.22 million units in 2018. With these obstacles along the way, auto dealers are left with inadequate financing and small unsustainable businesses.
Helping to solve this problem is Shekel Mobility, a simplified financing and operating system for car dealers in Africa.
Shekel Mobility is a platform that offers a simpler, smarter, and faster way to launch and grow your car dealership locally or virtually. They help emerging businesses reach their full potential by digitising their financial processes and providing them with access to credit. With the help of Shekel Mobility, business owners can sustain and scale their businesses. The aim with Shekel is to build the largest auto dealership ecosystem powering $10 billion by the year 2025, and it’s on its way to doing this with a recent Y Combinator co-sign. It is already financing 1,000 car dealers in its network.
How it works
To access credit from Shekel Mobility, dealers have to apply and be approved. Pre-approved dealers are required to provide at least 30% of the value of the vehicle they intend to purchase, and Shekel Mobility provides the remaining 70% of financing after vetting and validating the corresponding documents. Once the vehicle is purchased, it is housed in an approved car lot—the company also intends to own its car lot(s) in the coming months. After the dealer sells the car, they can repay the loan to Shekel and continue to grow their business.
Shekel Mobility also provides dealers with assistance when they are unable to meet up with the stipulated time for selling a vehicle. It helps dealers sell to consumers or other dealers on its network.
According to company data, Shekel Mobility dealers have been able to triple their sales so far by growing their inventory through access to this affordable financing.
The journey so far
Founded by Benjamen Oladokun, the Chief business officer (CBO), Sanmi Olukanmi (CEO), and Valentine Mayaki (CTO), Shekel Mobility’s leadership shares over 15 years of friendship and 10+ years of experience in mobility and technology.
Since its launch, Shekel Mobility has added 1,000 car dealers to its network and has actively financed about 3,500 vehicles worth $20 million —powering over $2 million in transactions monthly.
“Due to our credit model, we have a 0% default rate,” Benjamen says. “This is because we do not just offer credit but have built an operating system for the dealers to run their transactions.”
This traction, along with the viability of the business solution, has led to their selection for the Y Combinator Winter 2023 Batch.
In Q1 2023, the company wants to grow its transactions from 20% to 100%, month-on-month. “Limited access to credit from financial institutions is one of our major challenges,” Sanmi says, “Most of our funding comes from non-traditional institutions and VCs. However, we are seeing a future where these financial institutions will be willing to partner with us.”
Although Shekel Mobility still leverages its equity funding, the company is now prioritizing getting more debt funding to push its business model across the continent and other emerging markets.
According to Benjamen, “Our goal is to ensure that every auto dealer in Africa and other emerging markets is able to access the right kind of capital to maximize the opportunities available. As it stands, we have enabled local dealerships to grow their businesses 3x and we are pumped with a passion to see this grow exponentially,’’
Shekel Mobility also raised $1,950,000 in a pre-seed round that was oversubscribed. Ventures Platform led the investment round, with participation from other strategic investors such as Y Combinator, Voltron Capital, Zedcrest, and other angel investors.
Get access to Shekel Mobility Here