Rwandan Electric Motorcycle Startup Ampersand Secures $9m Debt Facility

Rwandan Electric Motorcycle Startup Ampersand Secures $9m Debt Facility

Rwanda-based mobility startup Ampersand has secured $9m loan facility from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to expand its operations in Rwanda and Kenya.

The loan is part of DFC’s Portfolio for Impact and Innovation (PI²) initiative and contributes to its commitment to the US Energy Compact and its target to address climate change with one third of its investments by 2023.

Ampersand was launched in 2019 by Josh Whale, the startup aims at increasing drivers’ income and leapfrog Africa towards a zero-carbon future by offering drivers motorcycles and energy that cost less to acquire and operate, outperform their current setup in every way, and are electric-powered.

Ampersand assembles and finances electric motorcycles that cost less, using its network of battery swap stations and fleet of batteries to help drivers swap batteries faster than refilling a tank with petrol and shields vehicle buyers from the high upfront cost of a lithium battery pack.

Josh Whale, founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of Ampersand speaking on the funding said that the support from DFC underlines Ampersand’s viability.

“We’re thrilled to have DFC on board with this historic investment, which is building momentum to electrify all of East Africa’s five 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 bolder, fast-moving and innovative funds like PI² are urgently needed,” said Whale.

“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. “DFC is focused on making impactful investments in developing countries that will help communities progress and grow while simultaneously building resilience and prosperity for a clean energy future — this investment and the incredible growth that Ampersand has demonstrated in the market represents a great step in that direction.”

Since its launch in May 2019, Ampersand’s claims to have performed over 50,000 battery swaps, powering its fleet of 56 drivers for over two million kilometres. The new funding will be used to help the startup’s scaling process.