From VC to logistics, Nigeria’s Uche Ogboi becomes CEO of Kenya’s Lori Systems


Logistics startup, Lori Systems, has appointed Uche Ogboi as its new Chief Executive Officer. She will resume her role from June 1 while Joshua Sandler, the startup’s founder and CEO will now be the Executive Chairman of the board.

Uche joined the logistics startup in 2019, more than 2 years after it was launched in Nairobi. Coming from a venture capital and banking background, she became the trucking startup’s chief operating officer. Her appointment coincided with that of Efayomi Carr, who was appointed as the head of strategic finance.

From VC to logistics, meet Uche Ogboi, newly appointed CEO of Kenya's Lori Systems

Ogboi finished from the University of Birmingham in 2006 with a Bachelor’s degree in accounting and finance. With her degree, she joined Edirol Europe Ltd and worked as an accountant for 2 years before moving to investment banking with Citi in 2009.

With the experience she gathered from Citi by working on deals totalling $8 billion and spreading across various regions including Sub-Saharan Africa amongst others, Uche joined EchoVC as an associate principal.

She became a principal with the VC firm in October 2018 and worked with others to diversify the firm’s portfolio to include startups in healthtech, logistics, fintech, agriculture and other sectors. One of the notable investments by the firm in 2018 was a $2.5 million round in Kenya’s edtech startup, Kukua.

Her move to Lori signalled a major shift in her career as she pivoted from investments into logistics. She still continues in her volunteer role as the Investment Lead for RisingTide Africa, a women-focused VC network and is passionate about mentoring founders in Africa’s tech ecosystem.

The decision to hand over the executive reins to the formidable Uche Ogboi was not altogether easy, according to Lori’s founder, Joshua Sandler. He admits that this is “because being Lori’s CEO has been such a core part of my identity.”

Joshua Sandler
Source: EchoVC Partners

However, Ogboi’s “structured systems-level approach” as well as empathetic leadership and dogged passion for making things happen has shown the team that she is the right person to lead the company at this time.

Recounting some of her achievements, Sandler began from the Nigeria side of Lori’s business where Uche grew the business to 10 times larger than it was in less than a year. The impact was felt beyond Nigeria, as the loading times and border crossings improved to 6 hours in East Africa instead of the 72 and 48 hours that it was respectively when the company started.

As draining as the covid-19 pandemic was for most businesses in 2020, Lori’s margins increased to almost double, according to Sandler. Under Uche’s leadership, the company had a 40% reduction in cost and was able to weather the tough economic condition without being the worse for wear.

As she takes on her new role, Uche will be spearheading Lori Systems into its next level of growth. The company hinted at expanding into new African markets to bring the total number to 20. Ensuring a smooth expansion as well as keeping Lori ahead of its competitors, one of which is Kobo360, will be part of the immediate goals.

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