Gokada, the Nigerian delivery and transport firm, has appointed a permanent chief executive following the murder of its co-founder and CEO last July in Manhattan.
The firm has appointed Nikhil Goel as CEO as it moves away from motorcycle ride-hailing, which has faced significant regulatory hurdles in Nigeria, towards food, parcel and “last mile” deliveries.
Goel, who previously held roles at Indian food delivery startup Zomato and Kenyan motorcycle taxi app SafeBoda, has led Gokada since the death of co-founder and CEO Fahim Saleh in July. The 33-year old was found dead in his luxury Manhattan apartment in July in a case that made international news headlines.
In October, Tyrese Haspil, Saleh’s former executive assistant, pleaded not guilty to charges of first-degree murder via Skype before a state court judge in Manhattan.
Gokada, co-founded by Saleh, began as one of several popular motorcycle ride-hailing services in Nigeria that allows users to summon rides using an app. Quick and inexpensive motorcycle taxis are a favoured mode of transport in the congested cities of Nigeria.
However, the Nigerian ride-hailing business has been dogged by regulatory uncertainty. In February 2020, the city of Lagos imposed a ban on the operations of commercial motorbikes and three-wheeled rickshaws, cutting off access to the majority of the city’s business districts and economic hubs.
A week after the restriction of motorbike taxis, tech-industry focused news platform Techpoint Africa reported that Gokada had dismissed up to 70% of its workforce.
Such uncertainty led Gokada to diversify its operations by embracing deliveries. The firm now says it has a fleet of over 1000 pilots and plans to expand across other states in Nigeria this year. The firm claims to have experienced a tenfold increase in revenues and a hundred-fold increase in delivery order volume during Goel’s leadership, which has coincided with the Covid-19 pandemic.
Fahim Saleh‘s elder sister, Ruby Saleh, a Gokada board member, welcomed Goel’s permanent appointment.
“Nikhil is a natural successor to Fahim as they worked so closely together to set the direction of the company’s current trajectory. Nikhil really understands Fahim’s mission in founding Gokada and I am fully confident in his ability to lead the company to great success. Fahim had a passion for technology being used to scale access and create lasting impact and his brilliance lives on in Gokada. Nikhil has done an incredible job leading the company since Fahim’s passing and we believe he’ll continue to take Gokada forward, just the way Fahim envisioned.”
Goel paid tribute to his predecessor and pledged to continue his legacy.
“It is a real honour to continue Fahim’s legacy as CEO of Gokada. Fahim’s passion for entrepreneurship in Nigeria was infectious and inspiring. I was fortunate to have worked very closely with him. Together with Fahim’s family and Gokada’s investors, our incredible team here in Nigeria will continue to build the vision Fahim created to make a great impact on businesses and lives in Nigeria and beyond.”