The Innovative Business Model: ZEMBO – A Pioneering and Sustainable African Mobility Solution

Motorcycle taxis, known locally as boda bodas, are widely used in Kampala and other cities in East Africa. Zembo is creating a new market for e-mobility in Kampala by selling electric motorcycles on a lease-to-own model and building a network of solar charging stations.

The Zembo Storm motorcycle is low cost to operate and durable enough for Uganda’s roads. The bike parts are sourced from China but assembled in Kampala. This has improved local technical skills and ensures high quality on-site maintenance and repairs. The motorcycles are lowering both fine particles and CO2 emissions, as well as noise pollution, across the city.

Drivers lease the motorcycles with a payment period of two years to reach full ownership. Affordable weekly fees, free maintenance services, and battery recharging rates lower than regular fuel costs are significantly increasing the drivers’ revenue and demonstrating the value of the product.

By focusing on a PAYG battery-as-a-service model, Zembo reduces the investment cost and risk of the user while optimising battery quality, lifetime, second life and recycling. The battery swap services also reduce opportunity costs (no waiting time during charging) and provide flexible infrastructure for power generation and energy storage capacity.

In addition to revolutionizing the mobility sector, Zembo is also introducing a progressive management style to Uganda. Many companies have a hierarchical structure that limits innovation, and this can be negatively reinforced in companies with a combination of international and local staff. The French and German co-founders of Zembo both had extensive experience working in Africa and were determined to develop a management culture that emphasizes equality, efficiency and individual initiative.

Zembo operates as a Teal organization based on the principle of self-management. All aspects of the business (including financial management) are fully transparent and each employee has their own role. Staff members consult with each other but there is no boss; each person is the decision-maker in their particular area of work and cannot be overruled, even by the company founders. The goal of this is to demonstrate trust and empower all members of staff to be responsible managers.

Excerpt of: The Innovative Business Model: ZEMBO – A Pioneering and Sustainable African Mobility Solution

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