Electric tri-cycles initiative empowers rural women

Electric tri-cycles initiative empowers rural women
December 09 12:16 2022
By Amanda Ellen Nicola Jojo

Rural women in Africa are key agents of sustainable development in their communities. They play crucial roles in agriculture, food provision, health and the general well-being of their families. However, their efforts in improving the livelihoods of their families are usually impeded by lack of resources and infrastructure.

To empower rural women, Mobility for Africa, a social enterprise introduced clean energy solar powered electric tricycles known locally as Hambas that are helping women to save time, better sell their goods at the market, take their children to the clinic and school, collect water, as well as improve their economic opportunities within the households and local communities.

“The good thing about Hamba is we’re not just limited to using it for agricultural activities. We use it for household chores like fetching water and firewood and for example, we can use it in case of emergencies to take each other to hospital, or even if our neighbours encounter problems like a snake bite, even at midnight, we can and will assist.

“Before Hamba we would have gone on foot everywhere. Now, we save time and even our produce can get to market when it’s still fresh. The market is at least 12-13 km away so before Hamba we would put produce in a basket and on our head but with walking that far in the heat of the sun, by the time we reach the market the vegetables would lose their freshness and we’d not be able to sell as much, “explained an elated Adefi one of the tricycles users.

Mobility for Africa’s e-tricycles are optimised for local conditions and can carry up to 400 kg, which improves access to markets and services for smallholder farmers and entrepreneurs. The vehicles run on bespoke long-life batteries charged by renewable energy.

The social enterprise is a grantee of the EEP Africa Portfolio. In a briefing EEP Africa noted that this project will scale up an e-mobility pilot in Zimbabwe providing electric three-wheeled vehicles to rural customers, mainly women, on a rent-to-own and lease basis.

“EEP Africa financing will enable Mobility for Africa to establish two solar-powered charging stations and set up a fleet management system with small scale dairy farmers in Chipinge District and with egg producers in Goromonzi District.

“The project will establish two charging stations for participating vehicle owners and roll out 150 e-tricycles,” read the briefing.

Recently Mobility for Africa signed an agreement with the Private Infrastructure Development Group (PIDG), committing US$2 million to scale up their operations.

Commenting on the investment, Mobility for Africa’s Director and CEO, Shantha Bloemen said they greatly appreciate InfraCo Africa’s investment and their vote of confidence.

“It will allow us to demonstrate how our fleet management system can be replicated to many rural communities. But it also signals that a rural woman, our primary customer, should no longer be ignored and acknowledges the critical role they play in agricultural and economic development. Mobility for Africa knows that by providing green shared mobility solutions to rural communities, especially women, we can have a catalytic impact on local economic activity, reduce gender inequality and contribute to building resilience against climate change,” said Bloemen.

InfraCo Africa’s Business Development Manager, Beatrice Muthoni echoed the same sentiments, “As the first African off-road e-tricycle, ‘Hambas’ will transform access to affordable, clean transport enabling people to reach employment, education and healthcare as well as to transport goods to market and to support domestic labour. InfraCo Africa brings expertise to the project from our electric mobility investments in Kenya and Uganda. This is our first investment in Zimbabwe and we look forward to partnering with Mobility for Africa to scale its solution to addressing rural transport needs in the country.”

Commenting on the partnership, the British Ambassador to Zimbabwe, H.E Melanie Robinson said, “ I am delighted by news of this InfraCo Africa investment in Mobility for Africa, a woman-led start-up doing a great job providing climate-friendly transport to small scale Zimbabwean farmers, many of them women. Mobility for Africa’s Hamba electric tricycles are designed with women users in mind – I can testify to that as I’ve had a chance to ride one! We’d love to see much more green finance investing in Zimbabwe’s private sector.”

InfraCo Africa’s investment will finance four hundred new Hambas, six hundred batteries and eight new charging stations at strategic locations across eastern Zimbabwe.

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