In Tunisia, for every three deliveries, two trucks return empty to their cities of origin. When he found out about this fact and the inefficiency as well as environmental and traffic issues that go along with it, Maher Chakroun developed a unique, sustainable concept that has the potential to revolutionize the African transport system. He founded the tech startup Optimalogistic. We have accompanied them on their journey and got to know their inspiring story.
Transport and logistics contribute significantly to global CO2 production, but the sector has also a lot of potential to create job opportunities and to become more efficient and sustainable through digital innovation. Especially in Africa, with its catalytic power of innovation and digital technologies for green and inclusive development, there are many starting points.
Maher Chakroun has taken up this challenge of the transport sector with his Tunisian tech startup Optimalogistics. His idea: to make economically effective use of empty truck return journeys and thereby actively save CO2, secure jobs, and create beneficial and equal opportunities for all stakeholder – small transport companies as well as companies in need of transportation.
An innovation starts with listening
Optimalogistics founding story starts in Chakroun’s student days, when he worked part-time at a car wash facility. There, he met hauliers and truck owners and listened to their daily challenges. They told him how they have to secure recurring deliveries every month and then fill their empty return journey. It became clear to Chakroun that the traditional way of booking a truck and managing its route is not sustainable and logistically inefficient, and that it also leads to another problem: congestion of intercity roads and in urban areas.
He realized, the freight industry in Africa needs to embrace digitalization. Only optimal digital workflows can help increase the efficiency of the transportation industry and promote sustainability.
The smart revolution of logistics
Optimalogistic offers a transport management system and a platform that digitally brings together all supply chain participants. “We help transport companies to fill their empty journey by matching them with a sender's needs in the back journey. Using the empty return journey reduces the delivery cost and the product cost accordingly”, Chakroun explains. This optimization of the wasted capacity of trucks on the road can reduce the number of unused trucks as well as traffic congestion, with a positive impact on the environment: Optimalogistic has already saved more than 1,500 million grams of CO2.
Transport service providers – small and big – can use the system to manage their daily operations. Optimalogistics also helps them to convert their fleet to connected vehicles with the necessary hardware and software like GPS, a mobile app, and access to a freight marketplace where they can offer their services. There, B2B stakeholders can book the trucks, compare prices, manage their deliveries online, optimize delivery costs, and increase their efficiency accordingly.
The future is in disruption
Chakroun has a vision: “We want to disrupt the goods transportation logistical challenges to optimize the cost and duration of goods transport transactions within African countries and between Africa and abroad.”
To this end, Optimalogistic wants to offer a wider range of services to meet the challenge of Industry 4.0, including AI and automation, as well as providing IoT devices for smart delivery. Networking with other African tech startups helps Optimalogistic to identify new opportunities for scaling and innovation – just like they did at our bootcamp in Kigali.
Pan-African collaboration and networking
As part of our Smart Cities Innovation Programme (SCIP) the 1 week live bootcamp took place in Kigali between 22th and 26th November 2021. SCIP is an accelerator programme run by the Rwandan Ministry of ICT and Innovation and the GIZ´s Invest for Jobs initiative, aimed at supporting African startups in the fields of FinTech, Mobility, CleanTech and Smart Housing. With our partners, we brought Optimalogistic together with 30 other selected startups, experts from various fields and investors such as Volkswagen, Siemens, Viktoria Ventures, and the African Business Angels Network (ABAN) for individual mentoring and training as well as intensive networking and matchmaking.
Knowing a reliable innovation ecosystem is important for their startup's growth, Maher Chakroun and his colleagues saw our networking and mentoring event as a great opportunity. They met tech startups from the region and discussed their challenges in Africa, sharing their experiences and learning from each other. Besides the networking aspect, the mentoring sessions with experts were also significant for Chakroun to get to know the East African market – especially as a startup from Tunisia.
The journey continues
We have been fortunate to accompany Optimalogistic on this part of their journey, bringing them one step closer to further scaling the company internationally and realizing Chakroun's vision:
“Optimalogistic is the Airbnb of goods transportation in Africa. We want to help international companies manage their deliveries in real time, anywhere in the world, from an all-in-one platform.”