Kenyan startup Ecobodaa is launching the country’s first electric motorcycle taxis in a bid to help drivers spend money on fuel and servicing.
We have a prototype which we have circulated among the riders in Kibera, and we have an initial order of 20 ecobodaas on the way that we are launching in Kibera at the start of November,” said Kimosop Chepkoit, co-founder of the business alongside Stephen Juma.
“Our waiting list stands at 156. Our plan is to cover at least half of Nairobi in the next 18 months.”
Motorcycle taxis are a big deal, as they are the most common mode of last mile connectivity in East Africa. The region has over three million such bikes, while Nairobi alone has over 200,000.
Chepkoit knows a thing or two about the sector, having previously been chief executive officer (CEO) of BodaBoda Investments Company, which leased more than 75 motorcycle taxis to riders in a small town called Mlolongo, south of Nairobi.
“With my daily interactions with the riders I got to understand what they look for in motorcycle taxis, their livelihoods, as well as how much they spend on fuel and servicing,” he said.
Motorcycle taxi drivers spend more than 25 per cent of their daily income on fuel, and five days net income on servicing every 2,500 kilometres.
“I found this figure a bit exorbitant, considering these are people who earn slightly above US$10 per day,” Chepkoit said. “Being an innovator I thought of bringing them a better product, especially one that would save them money.”
That product is Ecobodaa, which Chepkoit said is ideally suited to this space as riders operate on predetermined routes with short trips of between two and 10 kilometres. The self-funded startup is in talks with a number of VC firms over speeding its rollout plans, and has various ways of making money.
“The ecobodaas are available on lease-to-own model where riders make daily payments plus loan interest via M-pesa,” said Chepkoit. “We also do battery swaps at a fee so as to save the rider from wasting time waiting for batteries to charge. Servicing and sale of spare parts is also one of the sources of revenue in our model.”