Rwandan Start-Up Ampersand Secures U.S.$9 Million to Expand E-mobility Footprint

Ampersand, a Rwandan startup, has secured a $9 million loan facility from the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) to help it expand its footprint in Rwanda and Kenya. 

The indigenous electric bike maker has built up a reputation in Rwanda after it rolled out electric motorbikes that run on a battery swap model. The investment is the first loan that DFC is granting for electric mobility and is aimed at increasing investor confidence in Africa’s e-mobility sector, which is on an upwards trend.

Ampersand’s official stated that the loan will enable the firm to scale up its number of electric motorcycles in Kenya and Rwanda to several thousand by the close of this year.  

In addition to this loan, Ampersand secured a $4 million Series A round in 2021, which was supported by Ecosystem Integrity Fund (EIF), a Silicon Valley investor, and TotalEnergies. 

The firm was officially launched in 2019 with a seed capital of $600,000 and had previously received funding from FactorE Ventures in 2018, USAID’s Development Innovation Ventures, the Rwanda Green Fund, the UK FCDO’s Frontier Technology Livestreaming fund, the New Zealand Government and a loan facility from Blue Haven Initiative’s Catalytic Fund.

“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, “Josh Whale, Founder and CEO of Ampersand, said.

With more than 45 employees, Ampersand has developed its proprietary technology, as well as the chips that are used in the battery packs. E-mobility is increasing in popularity across the world due to its non-environmental degradation traits along with its ability to cut costs in the long run. 

The growing popularity of electric mobility is a driving factor for Ampersand in the quest to raise capital, and this is buoyed by worldwide developments in the sector. 

“This is a new and exciting sector. “There is a lot of interest and investment around climate change and a firm belief that electric mobility is going to play a big part in the future and is commercially viable,” Whale said in a previous interview.

The startup has also expressed interest in getting into partnership with petrol station operators to establish battery swap stations at their premises. 

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