Rwandan electric motorcycle startup Ampersand, has received a $9 million loan from the United States’ International Development Finance Corporation (DFC). The funding is to enable the expansion of the startup’s operations in Rwanda and Kenya.
Launched commercially in May 2019 by Josh Whale, Ampersand is headquartered in Kigali, Rwanda. The goal of the startup is to help the world reach a critical tipping point in the fight against climate change. Ampersand stands as the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle. It is less expensive to buy, maintain, and run than a gasoline vehicle.
Ampersand’s main core for business is the network of battery swap stations and also the fleet of batteries on which the platform operates. This system allows drivers to swap batteries faster. Much better than refilling a tank with petrol. Also, it shields vehicle buyers from the high upfront cost of a lithium battery pack. Since its launch, Ampersand’s team has performed over 50,000 battery swaps. This has powered Ampersand’s fleet of 56 drivers for over 2 million kilometres.
DFC’s $9 million loan will allow the Rwandan electric motorcycle startup Ampersand to increase its number of electric bikes across Rwanda and Kenya. The loan is part of DFC’s Portfolio for Impact and Innovation (PI²) initiative, which supports the U.S Energy Compact and DFC’s goal of addressing climate change with one-third of its investments by 2023.
“We’re thrilled to have DFC on board with this historic investment, which is building momentum to electrify all of East Africa’s 5 million motorcycle taxis by 2030. DFC’s support underlines the viability and investability of electric two-wheelers for mass-market customers in the Global South, and the importance of this market to reaching net zero. On the eve of COP26 in Glasgow we believe more bold, fast-moving and innovative funds like PI² are urgently needed,” says Josh Whale, Founder and CEO of Ampersand.
“DFC is proud to support Ampersand in their important and innovative work bringing e-mobility and electric motorcycles to Rwanda and Kenya,” said DFC’s Chief Climate Officer Jake Levine.
Levine also adds how the United States DFC is committed to making meaningful investments in developing countries. This will help communities progress and grow while also building resilience and prosperity for a clean energy future. This investment, as well as Ampersand’s incredible market growth, represents a significant step in that direction.
The story of African female pilots is one of resilience, ambition, and breaking new ground…