Transportation

Africa’s first electric motorcycle company, Ampersand, lands $3.5 mn investment from EIF

Rwandan motorcycle company, Ampersand has landed a $3.5 mn investment from the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF).

The deal is the largest ever e-mobility investment by a venture capital fund in sub-Saharan Africa and marks a turning point in global electric transport. The fact that the electric motorcycle industry in east Africa is starting to attract significant amounts of investment shows that the industry is now moving to the next level after a period of pilots across east Africa from several startups.

Read also: Airtel Africa’s mobile money business platform secures $100mn from Mastercard

“This investment shows that E-mobility in 2021 is just as much about motorbike taxi drivers in east Africa as it is about the launch of the large electric SUVs, pickups, and sedans around the world,” says Josh Wale,  Ampersand’s CEO. Headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles (‘emotos’ or ‘e-bodas’) that are cheaper, cleaner, and better performing than the 5 million petrol motorcycle taxis in use across east Africa. Ampersand also builds and operates a network of battery swap stations, allowing drivers to change batteries faster than refilling a tank with petrol. The motorcycles are imported as parts from several suppliers and assembled in Rwanda. “We design and build the battery packs ourselves. Our fleet of connected batteries, vehicles and network of swap stations is also run on a proprietary software platform, which we created ourselves in Rwanda.” Josh Wale,  Ampersand’s CEO Headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda, stated.


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“We’re thrilled to have EIF on board for this historic investment. We now have the momentum to scale our operations to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million taxi motorcycles by 2030. EIF’s support further dispels the myth that electric transport will happen in rich nations first and trickle down to developing countries later, second-hand,” says Josh Whale, Founder/CEO of Ampersand.

“We have confidence in the Ampersand team, and we believe the time is right,” said James Everett, Managing Partner of EIF. “We are very excited to partner with Ampersand as the company scales in Rwanda and expands across East Africa. We believe that electrifying 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles in developing countries represents one of the low hanging fruits for climate change mitigation globally, and can have a profound positive impact on urban air quality.”

Since its commercial launch in May 2019, Ampersand’s fleet of 35 drivers and e-motos have covered over 1.3 million kilometers and over 7000 drivers are on its waiting list. EIF’s investment builds on the startup’s acceleration through StartupBootcamp, early-stage funding from FactorE Ventures in 2018, generous support from the Rwanda Green Fund, USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, Shell Foundation, the UK FCDO’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming fund, the New Zealand Government, and a loan from Blue Haven Initiative’s Catalytic Fund. Ampersand is now starting up its business in neighboring countries, starting with Kenya where there is a large addressable market.

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