How an online logistics hub stands to revolutionize trade in Africa. Let’s meet Bifasor.
It started out as an ordinary day at the port of San Pedro, Ivory Coast, for Zakaria Dabone. Then a warehouse full of fertilizer changed everything.
With no dump truck available to transport the much needed fertilizer, the farmer who had paid for it ended up not only missing the planting season, but having to pay to store the fertilizer. Mr. Dabone felt that there had to be a better way.
Originally from landlocked Burkina Faso and with experience in his family’s 45-year-old freight transport business, Mr. Dabone is familiar with the logistics difficulties that arise in some parts of Africa. He began to think of a platform connecting every part of the transport network, from the mechanic who repairs the trucks to the shippers, carriers, freight forwarders and warehouse operators that send, move and deliver freight.
In Ghana, Mr. Dabone met Steven Silverstein, an expert in international government policy, and French marketing specialist Rym Soussi. Together, they decided to turn the idea into a business. They formed Bifasor and applied for the French Tech Ticket Global Startup competition.
Bifasor is one of the 21 winning startups, out of a total of 1,400 applicants worldwide, who received support from the French Tech Ticket. Their idea has evolved into a platform that brings formality to what is still an informal marketplace in many countries. The three founders credit French seed funding and mentoring for helping their early stage company get off the ground.
Bifasor brings small and medium-sized logistics companies online through a social network that provides information, connects them with one another and facilitates their interactions. This includes importers, exporters, manufacturers, distributors, shippers, warehouse owners, freight forwarders, freight agents, and custom brokers, among many others.
Subscribers can market, message and make deals from a single control panel. The search engine allows members to find new opportunities with reliable companies and individuals through a system that brings transparency to an otherwise tedious, time-consuming process.
Membership is free, and recruitment teams are in place on the ground in Ghana, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso. Bifasor has 200 subscribers – many of them members of the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations – and is looking for investors to commercialize the platform.
The company vision is to create new economic opportunities for Africa by helping improve supply chain efficiency, which will in turn facilitate intra-continental trade.
Bifasor is currently available in English and French, with Portuguese and Arabic to follow soon.
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