Ugandan Startup, Zembo raise $3.4M from Toyota, DOB Equity and InfraCo Africa

Ugandan Startup, Zembo raise $3.4M from Toyota, DOB Equity and InfraCo Africa

Zembo, a French startup with operations in Uganda, has raised $3.4 million to help grow its electric motorcycle business in Kampala, Uganda.

Mobility 54 Investment SAS, a corporate venture capital subsidiary of Toyota Tsusho Corporation and CFAO group, DOB Equity and InfraCo Africa all participated in the investment deal.

This financing will enable the startup to increase the number of electric motorcycles on the road by about 2,000 and assist the development of more than 60 Zembo charging and battery swapping stations across the city. The increased funding is expected to help Zembo expand while also instilling high health and safety and commercial growth standards, allowing the company to grow and attract more private sector investment.

Zembo is a mobility startup that provides low-cost electric motorcycles to African motorbike drivers, which are recharged at solar battery swap stations. As part of the global push to achieve net-zero emissions, Zembo’s proposal holds great potential for replication in other African cities.

“We’re delighted to continue creating electric boda bodas and charging stations for our consumers in collaboration with impact-focused institutions like InfraCo Africa, DOB Equity, and Mobility 54,” Zembo’s co-founder Étienne Saint-Sermin stated

“Our donors support Zembo’s objective to boost earnings for Uganda’s ‘boda boda’ riders while also reducing air pollution, which is a driving reason for this relationship. We look forward to serving our consumers and making sustainable mobility a reality in Uganda.” he further commented.

Zembo is an exciting transaction for InfraCo Africa, according to Gilles Vaes, CEO of InfraCo Africa. The investors are excited to add their experience in the e-mobility sector to co-developing Zembo’s product in Uganda, having invested in an all-electric taxi-hailing business in Nairobi.

He claims that Zembo has a proven track record of bringing electric two-wheeler vehicles to market and that the company’s ability to reduce urban air pollution, create jobs, and promote economic development in Kampala will be enhanced by its collaboration with DOB Equity and Mobility 54 to expand and develop the business.

The startup’s model doubles the number of electric motorcycle taxis on the road in Kampala and also eliminates the need for drivers to buy or own batteries or wait for them to be charged. They just swap a discharged battery for a fully charged one at the swap stations. The inclusion of off-grid solar PV charging stations will further ensure that autos are genuinely decreasing emissions.

In addition, the projects are in line with global efforts to enhance air quality and attain net-zero emissions.

In support of this, Saskia van der Mast, Co-CEO of DOB Equity, a Dutch private equity firm, revealed that the startup is offering a low-emission and cheaper transportation alternative to meet the increasing demands for urban transportation, with an aspiration to invest more in Uganda as well as in companies with a strong environmental angle.

“It’s excellent to have InfraCo Africa on board as an anchor investor and co-developer committed to Zembo’s growth in Uganda,” said Takeshi Watanabe of Mobility 54, a Toyota Tsusho Corporation Corporate Venture Capital facility.

We believe that the startup’s zero-emission motorbikes and carbon-free charging switch stations are making a significant contribution to Uganda’s carbon neutrality, where air pollution is considered to be among the worst in Africa.

Zembo’s e-motorcycles also help boda-boda drivers earn more money by saving them money on gasoline and maintenance compared to traditional combustion engines.

According to him, Mobility 54 is committed to collaborating with Zembo under the slogan “With Africa, For Africa” in order to address the continent’s social and industrial concerns.