Terminal Africa is a digital network redefining the Nigerian business space by providing efficient means for Africans to ship and receive products worldwide. Since its inception in 2021, business owners have leveraged its full suite of features to move their goods in a smart, secure and easy way to different regions globally.
Terminal Africa combines top-tier logistic solutions through strategic partnerships with industry-leading logistic companies such as Kwik, GIG Logistics, DHL, GoKada, and others.
2022 may go down in most people’s memories as the year of the Winter World Cup, but it was a defining year for Terminal Africa as it grew in leaps and bounds within the year. According to Nnamdi Okoh, the co-founder and CEO, the past year has seen him and the rest of the team develop exponentially personally and professionally.
Technext chatted with Nnamdi in December 2022, and he explained Terminal Africa’s journey, goals, impact since its existence and plans to scale operations across Africa in the coming years.
As the CEO, he admits that managing the team to provide the services they offer to thousands of customers efficiently has not been an easy ride, especially in this defining year. There are days when issues that affect a growing business arise. Thankfully, the team is well-equipped to find solutions and keep building.
Many founders believe that the growth phase of a business is the toughest. However, time will allow the internal operations to run more smoothly, enabling them to focus on other things such as scaling, adding new products, and more. Nnamdi Okoh agrees, but he believes that Terminal Africa is still in its growing phase as they seek to expand its services beyond the shores of Nigeria.
Terminal Africa’s journey
The Okoh brothers did not set out to venture into logistics. Nnamdi Okoh explains that they had worked with several e-commerce platforms and were looking to build a payment platform to help these businesses improve their operations.
“We did not set out to build a logistics platform. We were working with e-commerce businesses in the space. Of course, as things grew, we listened to customers and realised that logistics was a big challenge.”
Considering the numerous adverts of logistics platforms that consumers see in media and on the streets, it takes innovators like the Okoh brothers to realise that more solutions are required to make business operations even better for many entrepreneurs.
At the start of the year, only three people made up the Terminal Africa team, but nine (9) months later, the team has grown to almost 30 individuals who are proud of the impact they have made on Small and Medium Enterprises(SMEs) in Nigeria.
“We have grown significantly over the last few months since we launched. At the moment, we are doing a lot. When it comes to shipping, we are up there with the popular performers in the space.”
Numbers don’t lie
“We currently serve 8000 customers in Nigeria alone. Regarding parcel delivery, by the end of this year, we will have shipped over 50000 parcels worth more than three billion Naira. For context, we had not shipped up to a thousand parcels in March 2022, so this is to give you an insight into how the last 8 or 9 months have been. It has been pretty chaotic since January. However, when I hear stories from our team members and customers about how Terminal has impacted their lives and businesses, it makes it all worth it.”
Plans to expand to other African countries
As the business settles in the Nigerian business space, Nnamdi Okoh is keen to spread Terminal Africa’s impact to other African nations. Considering the impressive growth rate in Nigeria over the last few months, Terminal Africa now has experience on its side; the lessons learnt in 2022 will be an advantage as they seek to keep integrating more local and international couriers as they expand into other countries.
“Expansion is not going to be the same way that we have started here, we have learned a lot, and we have grown to a point. Over the next year, we are thinking of three markets, in particular, Kenya, Ghana and South Africa,” he explained.
As Terminal Africa continues to establish itself as a force to reckon with in the Nigerian business industry, research and analysis on how to bring the business to potential customers in other nations are already underway.
“We are currently doing the groundwork, talking to stakeholders in these markets to understand how the customers interact with partners traditionally, how they run deliveries in these regions. We are also using that research to understand what we need to change and adapt from a value standpoint to offering our services in these markets. And also from a compliance side, making sure that everything is done appropriately.”
Terminal understands the value of partnerships and has valuable relationships with international logistics companies. The firm has partnered with DHL and FedEx, to mention a few, and is looking to use those relationships in the markets they hope to expand to.
“The cordial relationships that we have with the global partners such as DHL, and FedEx, in Nigeria, cuts across these markets as well, so we are going to leverage the existing relationships that we have to connect us with their colleagues in those markets. But we are always looking for more partners because it’s a big value proposition for us that when customers come to Terminal, they have a wide range of choices. This has been the case in Nigeria, and we want the same in these other markets. So we are looking to establish relationships with the local delivery services in Kenya and the other countries we hope to expand to.”
”Initially, we faced some challenges with our partners when we started here because we did not understand how they wanted to work with us. But we are already engaging them on these terms upfront before we begin operations in those countries. By the end of next year, we hope to be operational in at least two of those markets.”
What it is like to be CEO and founder
Nnamdi Okoh is no stranger to being a founder in the ever-growing Nigerian tech ecosystem. However, being the Chief Executive Officer of a firm that has grown in size and impact by more than 900% in 9 months cannot be easy.
“It has been an emotional rollercoaster, really. Initially, I used to be in control of my time, but as things grow, that control vanishes, and you start to realise that you have to do like ten things at once. It can be emotionally draining, but you have to fight to get control of your own time.”
“I mean, there is the attention and credit that you get from the public and your customers for establishing a platform that provides solutions to their business problems, and that is very nice and all, but it is a lot of work. You get to deal with customers, investors, issues with the platform, manage your team, and do everything to ensure that business runs effectively.”
While Nnamdi Okoh is the CEO, his brother and co-founder, Udi Okoh, is the CMO who ensures that the pressure of being founders is shared equally. According to Nnamdi, having his brother in the management team has been a blessing.
“My brother and I have pretty much done everything together since we were kids. We went to the same high school, and graduated from the same university; we are now co-founders at Terminal Africa. Of course, we have our disagreements and keep each other grounded, but we share common core values, which is very important if you co-found anything with anyone.
When Terminal Africa reaches its maximum potential, perhaps we could see more collaborations from the Okoh brothers as they hope to keep providing multiple solutions to business problems through tech.
“Oh, yeah. We talk about other things but the focus now is building Terminal and returning value to the people that have helped us reach the stage we currently are. We have individual ideas that we would like to work on but we would like to channel all our focus on Terminal for now.”
Terminal Africa and empowering women
One of the core missions of Terminal Africa is to empower women-led organisations and women in the tech space. While this is a noble gesture considering the gender inequality that plagues the world, especially the tech ecosystem, the execution has not been seamless for many individuals who set out to do it.
Nnamdi Okoh explains Terminal Africa’s policies to empower women in tech and the women-led businesses that Terminal Africa serves.
“If you are a traditional business, you can have the initiative to help women but if you look at our client base, 65% are women, probably because of the sector that we are in. Most of our customers are small business owners who require shipping their products and increasing consumer growth.
If you look at our key customers who ship a lot, the percentage is probably closer to 80. By default, for Terminal to succeed, we need to make our platform work in a way that serves these women-led businesses efficiently. “
Proudest moment as a founder
Artists are proud of their projects, architects are proud of their building designs, and all creators are proud of their creations. Pressed to reveal his proudest moments as a founder, Nnamdi Okoh finds it difficult to pick a specific moment because there is a lot to be proud of.
“There have been a lot of proud moments. I am proud of the Terminal Africa team that we have built. Earlier this year (2022), only three people made up the Terminal Africa team, and now we are twenty-seven. Looking around and seeing the team we have assembled makes me very proud.
However, one of my proudest moments as a founder has to be the moment our first customer closed out a sale when we were trying to do the e-commerce thing. The experience of putting someone’s business online and helping someone’s business product get noticed and sold on a platform you built is amazing.
I remember where I was and what I was doing, probably what I was wearing when that transaction went through. That memory is etched in my mind because I was like, wow! We actually helped someone do this, and it was the moment we realised we could do these things we dream about. The transaction was worth like N30000, but it is the foundation of everything we do now.”
Founders that inspire you
Many startups and companies are doing great work to provide solutions to many problems. However, picking a founder that inspires any individual depends on the said individual’s personality. Nnamdi Okoh, is inspired by the great work of certain startups, but he is very impressed with what Paystack has done for the African market.
“From a product perspective, what they (Ezra Olubi and Sola Akintade) have built at Paystack is exceptional by any standards. The impact it has had on the ecosystem and the opportunities it has created for other startups including ours is noteworthy. It is something I hope Terminal can do for other businesses. I tried to work there, and that’s how inspiring I find their work/product”
Advice to upcoming founders or other ones
“Focus. It is important not to get distracted by the buzz around the business. For instance, when people realise what we have built at Terminal Africa or start to realise more about what Terminal does they may think it happened within the space of a year. Founders should stay true to what they are building, delivering value, and staying true to their customers by giving them what they will enjoy. “
Finally, Terminal Africa has helped thousands of SMEs and entrepreneurs solve some of the predominant challenges they encounter while attempting to scale up their businesses. Current customers have detailed Terminal’s impact on their businesses, and there is room for more customers to scale their business via the platform.
Terminal Africa is social! Follow on Instagram @terminal_africa, LinkedIn on @Terminal Africa Inc., and Twitter @terminal_africa. Visit the company’s website at www.terminal.africa to learn more about Terminal Africa.
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