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Home Startups Electric motorcycle startup Ecobodaa to launch in Nairobi with a rent-to-own model

Electric motorcycle startup Ecobodaa to launch in Nairobi with a rent-to-own model

by Sam Wakoba
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Ecobodaa, a Kenyan electric motorcycle taxi startup is set to launch in Nairobi, Kenya to enable the youth to obtain their own electric motorcycles to beat unemployment and poverty in Kenya’s informal settlements.

The startup is working on a lease-to-own model to help its riders own the electric-powered motorcycles on rent-to-own terms through daily or weekly payments via M-Pesa.

Ecobodaa, built by Kenyan engineers Kimosop Chepkoit and Stephen Juma, is currently rolling out battery swap stations in Kibera, Kenya’s largest slum in readiness for its October launch.

According to Kimosop, Ecobodaa CEO, “As a strategy to launch and serve the mobile under-served, we have shortlisted, vetted, and trained women bodaboda riders in Kibera who will then benefit from our initial batch of Ecobodaas.

“ We are proud to say that we have a product that we believe will start an e-mobility revolution in the most common mode of last mile transport in East Africa,” Says Kimosop, Founder and CEO.

Kimosop adds that the Ecobodaas are designed from data obtained from popular combustion engine motorcycles. The team aggregated data from sensors installed in over 50 combustion engine bodabodas for over a year. This enabled them to fully understand the behavior of motorcycle taxi riders as well as motorcycle usage.

Ecobodaa gathered data such as daily mileage, average speeds, fuel consumption, average distance per trip, and hours of operation. This enabled them to build their product from a point of knowledge.

Motorcycle taxis are the most common mode of last mile transport with over 200,000 motorcycle taxis in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital city. however, ownership is a challenge to many youths due to poverty and unemployment. Ecobodaa hopes its rent-to-own model will put bikes into many people’s hands.

“Our business model is unique since we not only provide the electric motorcycle to our riders, we also provide 100% financing for our riders,” said Kimosop, adding that this was influenced due to the fact that almost 70% of motorcycle taxi riders do not own the motorcycles, and are either employed or have them on lease.

Ecobodaa’s model aims to enable the riders to obtain the electric motorcycles on lease-to-own terms through daily or weekly payments for over a period of 18 months.

Ecobodaa aims to save its riders 60% on daily fuel spend and over 80% on repairs and servicing for over a period of 3 months. According to the firm, these are incredible savings considering that they used to spend over 25% of their daily income on fuel.

Motorcycle taxis are the most preferred mode of last-mile connectivity in East Africa. Unfortunately, motorcycle taxis in Africa’s urban cities are the main source of pollution, chaos, and most family expenses. By building a product that reduces the riders expenses in terms of maintenance, fueling and asset acquisition of the motorcycle taxis, Ecobodaa aims to build a more resilient and sustainable urban mobility solution.

Ecobodaa riders will only pay 10% deposit then pay the reminder through daily or weekly M-PESA remittances. This way the startup aims to solve the problem facing many youths and women; which is access to capital.

The startup is also building battery swap stations to address the battery range problem which hinders e-mobility adoption. Riders don’t have to wait for their batteries to charge, they only go to a swap station and pick a fully charged one at a fee less than the cost of a liter of petrol.

“Our product is developed with the typical motorcycle taxi rider in mind. We built the product in collaboration with motorcycle taxi riders in Nairobi, Kenya,” Kimosop said.

Motorcycle taxi riders in Kenya operate on predetermined routes and take shorter trips of between 2- 10km before returning back to the passenger picking points. This way, it is easy to address the battery range problem by building swap stations on these routes hence our choice for motorcycle taxis as opposed to private use where individuals have unpredictable behavior.

Ecobodaa is launching in Nairobi late October, a city that is estimated to have 200,000+ motorcycle taxis. Its initial clients, whom we have registered and trained on the use of the Ecobodaa are women motorcycle taxi riders from the Kibera slums.

Ecobodaa is not the first such startup in East Africa as Stimaboda has launched in Kenya to provide a charging service for electric moto-taxis in Kenya and enable moto-taxi drivers to switch to electric motorcycles, and benefit from lower fuel costs.

Ampersand plans to begin trials of its electric motorcycle taxi (e-Moto) services in Rwanda after 2.5 years of research and development. Uganda’s Zen.bo cannot be ignored. Bodawerk, a Ugandan based engineering and innovations company also aims to professionalize and commercialize existing prototypes to build innovations to problems for people at the ‘bottom of the pyramid’ in Uganda.

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