Rwandan e-bike startup Ampersand has successfully raised a substantial $19.5 million in a funding round, signaling a significant stride in its mission to revolutionize electric transport in East Africa. The Kigali-based company, established in 2016, focuses on assembling and financing electric motorcycles designed to outperform traditional petrol motorcycle taxis in both cost efficiency and performance.
Transforming East African Transport
Ampersand's innovative approach aims to address the challenges posed by the five million petrol motorcycle taxis prevalent in East Africa. By providing electric motorcycles that are not only cost-effective but also superior in performance, the startup is reshaping the landscape of urban transportation.
Fleet Expansion and Growth
Since its commercial launch in May 2019, Ampersand has experienced substantial growth, with its fleet expanding to over 1,000 motorcycles. The company has ambitious plans to surpass 10,000 motorcycles by late 2024, solidifying its position as a key player in the electric mobility sector.
The $19.5 million funding round was led by the Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF) and saw participation from Acumen, Hard Edged Hope Fund, Alphamundi VC, Societe Petrolieres du Rwanda, TotalEnergies, EIF, and Beyond Capital Ventures. Notably, the funding includes a $7.5 million debt facility from Cygnum Capital's Africa Go Green Fund.
Ampersand's CEO and founder, Josh Whale, expressed confidence in the company's trajectory, emphasizing the continuous advancement of their made-in-Africa battery fleet. The technology not only leads globally in cost per kilometer but also boasts impressive uptime for light-electric vehicles. With the evolving landscape of government e-mobility policies across Africa and the gradual elimination of fuel subsidies, Ampersand anticipates a growing addressable market.
Future Electric Mobility Prospects
Whale highlighted the significance of the funding in supporting the company's mission to deliver thousands more electric motorcycles in the coming months. The funds will play a pivotal role in scaling operations, enhancing technology, and meeting the escalating demand for electric mobility on the continent.
Investor Confidence and Commitment
Despite the challenges posed by the current fundraising environment, Ampersand's funding round received strong support from both existing and new investors. This backing underscores confidence in the business model, technological innovation, customer-centric approach, robust unit economics, and competitive advantage of Ampersand.
Ecosystem Integrity Fund's Perspective
James Everett, Managing Partner of Ecosystem Integrity Fund, expressed delight in continuing to support Ampersand as it transitions to a growth-stage company. He emphasized the pivotal role Ampersand plays in leading the development of electric transportation in East Africa.