- Electric motorbike company Ampersand Rwanda Ltd has secured a $3.5 million investment, the largest ever venture capital fund investment from Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) into sub-Saharan Africa.
The deal marks a turning point in global electric transport. Ampersand founder/CEO Josh Whale: “EIF’s support further dispelled the myth that electric transport will happen in rich nations first and trickle down to developing countries later, second-hand.”
San Francisco-based Ecosystem Integrity Fund is a sustainability-focused venture capital company, which invests in companies which reduce or ameliorate threats to ecosystem integrity.
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’s motorbikes produce at least 75% less carbon than petrol motorcycles and zero tailpipe emissions. Ampersand also builds and operates a network of battery swap station. This allowing drivers to change batteries faster than refilling a tank with petrol.
EIF’s historic $3,5 million investment will allow Ampersand to rapidly scale up its electric motorcycle and swap station network in Rwanda. This will put hundreds more e-motos onto the road and create dozens more battery swapping stations.
The investment will also enable Ampersand’s expansion beyond Rwanda’s borders and and fuel the company’s research and development arm. This financial boost puts Ampersand on track to electrify East Africa’s motorcycle taxi fleet by 2030.
Introducing e-mobility to Africa one electric motorbike at a time
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 7,000 drivers are on their 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 CEO Josh Whale, commented: “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.”
James Everett, Managing Partner at EIF said they are 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.”
Author: Theresa Smith