Ecobodaa is a Kenyan e-mobility start-up with a mission to provide affordable, electric motorcycle taxis to riders in Nairobi on a lease-to-own payment plan.
With nearly 1.3 million petrol motorcycles on the road in Kenya, many of which are used commercially as motorcycle taxis known locally as ‘bodaboda’ the opportunity to grow the market for zero-emission two-wheeled vehicles is potentially huge.
Founded by Kim Chepkoit in 2020, in the company’s first 2 years, Ecobodaa tested a set of 10 electric motorcycles with riders from UberEats and other delivery and transport services in Kenya’s largest slum, Kibera. After more than 150,000 km travelled, Ecobodaa was able to gather valuable user feedback to improve the design of the product. Ecobodaa learned that a key for riders considering switching to electric motorcycle taxis is a lack of flexibility in power purchases at the company’s network of 20 swap stations, with many drivers reluctant to make full upfront payment for battery swaps. In response, the company developed a game- changing platform that enables micro pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) payments for energy purchases. As the technology allows drivers to make quick and easy energy payments on the go, it requires no major behavioural change from fuelling petrol motorcycles, thus reducing user adoption barriers. Given that riders are not required to purchase a full battery-worth of power at any given point, the PAYGO platform offers them more autonomy over the management of their cashflow and reduces digital transaction costs. Moreover, if a rider swaps out a battery with unused power, the value left from their token is transferred to the new battery, ensuring that the driver never loses out. With support from PREO in the form of a financial grant, the company will be able to trial the PAYGO technology and grow its fleet to up to 1,600 electric motorcycles.
Alongside the company’s aim of scaling its footprint and demonstrating its viability through a successful trial, Ecobodaa is also targeting long term benefits for the local economy, environment and community.
Displacing the incumbent petrol boda-bodas with electric alternatives has the potential to dramatically reduce greenhouse gas and particulate emissions in Nairobi. Ninety percent of grid electricity in Kenya is generated by renewable sources (predominantly hydroelectric) therefore charging the e-bike batteries using mains electricity results in far lower emissions than the use of fossil fuels. This will also bring enormous benefits for air quality in urban areas, by eliminating the output of harmful particulates from the exhaust pipe of the internal combustion engine.
Ecobodaa also intend to create jobs for local young people since 75% of boda-boda riders in Nairobi are currently between 23-35 years old. The company also wants to address the gender disparity among boda-boda riders, as women account for only 3% of the workforce. Working with boda-boda associations, Ecobodaa is targeting increasing the percentage of women riders to 10%. Furthermore, Ecobodaa aim to have all 20 charging/swap stations operated solely by women within 18 months, with women comprising 50% of the leadership positions within the company.
For more information on Ecobodaa, visit ecobodaa.bike