Uganda’s Zembo gets $3.4m investment to scale electric motorcycle business

Zembo, a Ugandan electric mobility startup, has obtained a $3.4 million investment grant to expand its electric motorcycle company in Kampala, Uganda.

The startup signed the funding agreement with InfraCo Africa, a private infrastructure development group (PIDG) company, along with a consortium that includes Dutch private equity firm DOB Equity and Toyota Tsusho’s venture capital facility Mobility 54.

The company provides low-cost electric motorcycles to African motorbike riders. The bikes are recharged at solar battery swap stations.

Zembo battery swap stations.

Additional 2,000 motorbikes

The funding will allow the company to increase the number of electric motorcycles on the road by almost 2,000 as well as increase its charging and battery swapping stations throughout the city.

The vehicles are either purchased or leased with a lease to own model.

Zembo Storm motorbikes is one of several companies emerging in African countries to provide e-mobility solutions as a cleaner mode of transportation.

According to the company, its concept has a lot of promise for replication in other African cities as part of the worldwide push to attain net zero emissions. 

This new funding pool will also help Zembo grow and entrench high health and safety, and business development standards while also allowing it to scale and attract further private sector investment in the future. 

Established in 2018 and co-founded by Daniel Dreher and Étienne Saint-Sernin, Zembo has sold or leased 200 electric “boda boda” motorcycle taxis in Kampala. It also has 20 charging stations and facilitates 10,000 battery swaps per month. 

Zembo electric motorcycles

Zembo’s model which is based on the pay-as-you-go (PayGo) model utilized in the African solar business, aims to make electric mobility affordable for drivers and passengers.

According to the company, the Zembo Electric Motorcycles project will make approximately 2,000 electric motorcycles by mid-2023 accessible for people to buy or lease, with significant development planned in the following years.

“Zembo is providing a low-emission and cost-effective mobility option to address the growing need for urban transit,” “DOB is thrilled to join with Zembo and work with InfraCo Africa and Mobility 54 to develop the electric mobility industry on the continent, with the objective of investing more in Uganda and in firms with a strong environmental aspect.”

Saskia van der Mast, co-CEO of DOB Equity.

In a media statement, Zembo co-founder Étienne Saint-Sernin said, “We’re pleased to join with impact-focused institutions like InfraCo Africa, DOB Equity, and Mobility 54 to continue developing electric boda bodas (motorcycle taxis) and charging stations for our consumers.”

“Our sponsors support Zembo’s objective of boosting earnings for Uganda’s boda boda riders while reducing air pollution, and that is the driving force behind our relationship.” We look forward to continuing to serve our customers and helping Uganda achieve sustainable mobility. “

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