Senegal’s Paps wants to handle logistics for all French-speaking Africa

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Senegalese startup Paps, an urban logistics service for businesses and retailers, wants to become the biggest distribution service in French-speaking Africa having already expanded to Burkina Faso.

Launched in September 2016, Paps allows users to arrange pickup and delivery of documents and parcels via mobile app. They can then follow agents in real-time, all while saving money on other options.

“We have found that the distribution of documents and parcels in Africa is not easy because of the difficulties of addressing,” the startup’s chief executive officer (CEO) Bamba Lô told Disrupt Africa.

Paps began life as a customer-to-customer service, but has since changed approach and is now pursuing the business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) segments.

“In Africa in general, and particularly in Senegal, companies have a recurring problem related to the lack of addressing and the absence of efficient public transport. One of the most obvious solutions for companies is to internalise a function of couriers with the costs and management associated with it, without the courier or driver being involved in the value creation process of the company,” Lô said.

“Another solution, including the same limits, is to go through informal alternatives that guarantee no security, no transparency in the shipping process, and with uncertain availability of couriers.”

Paps solves this problem, making sure vetted couriers are always on hand. The startup targets multi-site companies with recurring collection or shipping needs, like banks, merchants and e-commerce, adopting a pay-per-use model based on distance and weight. It has already expanded into Burkina Faso, and makes over 300 deliveries per day.

Lô said the objective of Paps is to become the biggest local distribution service in French-speaking Africa by 2025, which it plans to do by also ensuring it is the most efficient, the least expensive and the most innovative.

“For this we are now focusing our efforts on the distribution of small, medium and large parcels at national level for retailers and businesses,” he said.

The startup has raised no funding, but does not seem too concerned, having seen 200 per cent growth in order volumes over the last year.

“We benefited from excellent word of mouth and the brand Paps becomes more and more known in Africa,” said Lô.

Now the goal is to build the most reliable logistics service in West Africa.

“We plan to develop a network of agencies in the largest cities of the region. This network will allow us to deliver in all these cities and create local agencies that can collect more easily,” Lô said.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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