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Founded in Kigali – Rwanda, Ampersand builds affordable electric motorcycles (e-motos) and charging systems to help Rwanda and Africa leapfrog towards a zero-carbon future. Ampersand offers local motorcycle taxis drivers a cost-convenient, more profitable and cleaner alternative to petrol motorcycles.

Josh Whale, Ampersand, CEO

“We’ve proven that we can put a motorbike on the road that’s better and cheaper, and just happens to be electric. Now we’re ready to grow. We’ve had 7000 Kigali motorbike taxi drivers get on our waiting list.”

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Ampersand’s model makes it cheaper to buy and operate an e-moto than a petrol motorcycle: instead of refilling their tanks, e-moto drivers can just swap the empty battery for a charged one at one of Ampersand’s battery charging stations. Reducing recharging times and costs, Ampersand’s vehicles deliver superior driving performance, emit 95% less carbon than petrol motorcycles with zero tailpipe emissions and put over $450 a year back into drivers’ pockets. 
Next to the e-motos and the batteries, Ampersand is at the forefront of battery fleet management with its own Amper-Ops online and mobile platforms, which allow seamless management of battery packs, customisable insights into ROI, smart maintenance and repairs-alert system. 

Achievements 

Ampersand’s model makes it cheaper to buy and operate an e-moto than a petrol motorcycle: instead of refilling their tanks, e-moto drivers can just swap the empty battery for a charged one at one of Ampersand’s battery charging stations. Reducing recharging times and costs, Ampersand’s vehicles emit 95% less carbon than petrol motorcycles with zero tailpipe emissions and save drivers around 35% compared to fuel and oil changes. Next to the e-motos and the batteries, Ampersand develops its battery fleet management with the AmperOps online and mobile platforms, which allow seamless management of battery packs, smart maintenance and repairs-alert system. 

Since Ampersand was founded in 2016 in Rwanda, Ampersand has grown its fleet to a current 1,350 vehicles, has expanded to Kenya, and now employs more than 300 staff. 

Ampersand
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Innovation

Through SOLUTIONSplus support, Ampersand focused on improving gender inclusion, providing 24 Ampersand electric motos to women having been trained and successfully passed the driving examination in 2022. The collaborative project involving the City of Kigali, UN-Habitat, the University of Rwanda, UEMI, the Wuppertal Institute, GIZ and Jali Finance, enabled an unprecedent success rate at the driving exam and the identification of key principles for gender-inclusive electric mobility projects. A second cohort was supported in 2024, integrating learnings gathered through the first cohort. 

Ampersand also distinguishes itself with its R&D to develop a locally designed and assembled battery. The SOLUTIONSplus pilot supported this critical dimension with technical support on the battery design and the company’s industrialization strategy.

Ampersand Women

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Gender-inclusive Electric Mobility

E-mobility as a possible driver for gender-inclusive change

E-mobility is not a silver bullet but a potential for change. The proactive design of e-mobility is being used to reshape and increase women’s participation in transport.

It all depends how you design it: Learnings from Safa Temple in Nepal 

The project includes small pilots with access to finance and rapid reimbursement loans. A free training for women drivers and
entrepreneurs took place, where half of the drivers were women. 

Gender-inclusion issues in East Africa

Women in transport provision are under-represented in East Africa. There are high harassment rates and violence towards women, including sexual violence.

Supporting women to become moto-taxi drivers in Kigali

The joining forces: SOLUTIONSplus partners (UN-Habitat, UEMI, DLR), Ampersand, GIZ, Jali trained 35 women 68.57% to obtain a driving license and handing 24 e-motos over to women in November 2022. 

5 Principles have been developed:

# 1 Understanding

# 2 Training

# 3 Retaining

# 4 Evaluating

# 5 Disseminating

Principle #1 Understanding

#1 Do a baseline assessment to understand previous gender-inclusive
projects, their success or failure factors

Application in the project in Kigali
• Identification of previous gender-inclusive projects
• Finding: failed gender-inclusive projects

Issues identified

Training

• Selected driving school unable to deliver quality training

• Training too distant
• Meals & transport costs insufficiently covered
• Situations of harassment

Exam

• Uneasy exam conditions done in public; crowd gathering

Some proactive recommendations for the joint project

Pre- training

Competitively bidding & minimum quality standards for outsourcing the training to driving schools

 

Training

Close physical proximity to training venues and providing adequate transport reimbursement where necessary
Providing incentives like meals, stationery and certificates to facilitate or motivate trainees
Develop or enforce anti-sexual harassment policies for adoption by government agencies and public transport service providers

Exam

Collaborating with key partners like the Government to facilitate the acquisition of driving licenses

Revenues

Continuous project monitoring and ability to promptly make

adjustments to the project

#2 Conducive training conditions: create a protected environment

Selection

• Much smaller cohort of women

• Selection of a driving school with clear training conditions,
experience in training women, and female trainers


Training

• Financial support; readjustment of allowances
• Thorough monitoring of the driving training
• Raise awareness of the driving school on harassment
• Training with an electric motorcycle following the ICE one


Exam

• Police enabling a driving exam with the same requirements but for female applicants only

For future projects
• Small is beautiful until you find scalable partners & model
• Design pace and cohort size appropriate to the capacity of driving schools
• Carefully select a driving school

Principle #2 Training

Principle #3 Retaining

#3 Ensuring conditions for women to use vehicles in real-life conditions

Pre-training

• Clarity at recruitment about the implications of driving a moto-taxi (vehicle weight, physical involvement, possible challenges) to limit post-training unexpected limitations
• Embed family members at key milestones

 

Subsequent employment

• Motorcycle cooperative
• Consideration of both passenger and delivery services

• Monitoring to understand needs and challenges
• Safe spaces to discussion, e.g. women-led focus group; third parties

 

Empowerment

• Training modules to women on their rights

• Training modules implemented in Kigali, e.g. language, map navigation, customer services, self-defence, etc.

#4 Understanding perceptions of the trained women and of the wider female population in the city

• Study with trained women on perceptions of ICE and e-motos,
barriers and motivations to become a driver

• Ongoing broader study with the female population in Kigali
about perceptions and barriers (>300 answers)

Principle #4 Evaluating

Principle #5 Disseminating

#5 Peer learning and replication at various scales

• City level: exchange between other projects, e.g. Safiride, under an umbrella such as the City of Kigali; Ministry of gender and family promotion
• Regional level: peer learning in the East African Community
• Learn from the experts and networks, e.g. Flone Initiative

Full Industry Approach to Gender in E-Mobility

A wholistic focus on gender – customers, passengers, employees


Provide every advantage for customers
• Work with regulators and authorities
• Ease financial burdens where possible
• Provide safe work opportunities
• Build a community of support


Ensure passenger comfort and safety
• Educate male transport providers on harassment and safeguarding
• Ensure mechanisms in place for feedback
• Design with women in mind


Make diversity an organizational focus
• Ampersand 30% women globally, 50% of assembly and swap attendants
• Focus on STEM
• Train Internally

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