Metro Africa Xpress (MAX) has raised $31 million in a Series B round. The new investment will be used to fund international expansion, deploy electric vehicles (EVs) and charging infrastructure, and provide credit and other financial products to over 100,000 drivers.

MAX is a mobility startup founded in 2015 by Adetayo Bamiduro (CEO) and Chinedu Azodoh (Chief Growth Officer). The two MIT Sloan alums started MAX when e-commerce was taking off in Nigeria to provide last-mile delivery service. Then, Tayo described MAX as a cross between Uber and UPS. Some years later, MAX added transportation of people to their bike-hailing service.

By 2019, MAX had raised $6 million in a Series A round and received $1 million in grants. "We intend to invest massively in our technology capabilities", MAX CFO Guy-Bertrand Njoya said at the time. "We’re piloting electric motorcycles in partnership with EV manufacturers and working with grid operators across Nigeria to deploy charging stations". The startup also planned to expand into 10 cities in West Africa — starting with Ghana and Ivory Coast — and add new vehicle classes including watercraft and three-wheeled taxis (AKA tuk-tuk or Keke).

Surprisingly, MAX still said it will use the $31 million to expand to Ghana and Egypt by the end of the first quarter of 2022, and Francophone, East and Southern Africa markets by the end of the year.

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The fresh funding will also be used to extend vehicle financing credit to over 100,000 drivers in the next two years. Last month, Bolt announced a partnership with MAX to expand its vehicle financing programme in Nigeria. The partnership enables Nigerian drivers working with Bolt to lease low-to-zero emission vehicles and pay in instalment until full ownership is secured. They would also have access to other value-added services such as licenses and permits, insurance, affordable health coverage and other financial products.

However, Bolt drivers have raised some concerns regarding the financing programme. The President of the National Union of Professional App-based Transport Workers, Comrade Ayoade Ibrahim, said, "The idea is welcomed and appreciated but what are the modalities involved in paying back the money? ₦8 million is not easy to gather in this economy".

MAX is not the only Nigerian mobility startup providing vehicle financing, there’s also Moove Africa. In July 2020, Uber announced a partnership with Moove to give its drivers access to affordable high-quality cars. This year, Moove raised a $23 million Series A funding, expanded into Kenya and partnered with Lori System and Sendy.

According to the statement released by MAX, this $31 million is the first close of its Series B round which was oversubscribed. Subsequent closes are expected in the next few weeks.

This Series B round was co-led by Lightrock, a global private equity platform making its first investment in African mobility space, and Global Ventures, a UAE-based international venture capital firm. Another new investor that participated in the round is the French development finance institution Proparco, through its Digital Africa Bridge Fund. Other existing investors Novastar Ventures and Yamaha also participated in the Series B round.

With this $31 million Series B funding, MAX has now raised a total of $40.4 million over eight funding rounds, according to Crunchbase.

"Novastar was an early supporter of MAX and we’ve been impressed by the tremendous growth the business has achieved in the last few years", Novastar Ventures West Africa Director, Brian Waswani Odhiambo, said. "We are excited to not only double down in this round but also to welcome new investors Global Ventures, Lightrock, and others to the journey. The team at MAX has built great solutions for mobility and we can’t wait to scale these into new markets in Africa and the rest of the world".

MAX currently has three product offerings: Drivers Services Platform — provides access to finance, vehicle ownership, licence, and insurance packages to drivers. Enterprise — this is MAX legacy logistics and delivery services. And Electric Mobility — provides electric and smart urban mobility that fit into Africa’s transport system.

And it currently serves 13,000+ drivers, with more than 60,000 drivers in the pipeline, according to the statement. Over 17 million trips have been completed on the platform using electric mobility and that has saved 22,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide.