It’s rare for me to get floored by something new or unexpected these days. It’s all the more reason why I love the serendipity of simply scanning my Twitter timeline when I discover something totally fresh and new. As was the case last night, I found out about a Mombasa based company called Mobius Motors. Mobius Motors is something of an oddity from a Pan-African perspective. This is a company that plans to build cars for rural Africa in the form of a social enterprise.
Now, much has been said about the “real” needs of Africa and more often than not this seems to be the basics of food, water, healthcare and education. However, I am certainly in love with the idea of a company that is based in Mombasa (of all places in Kenya? and not Nairobi for a change?) that is developing cars for the African continent! I feel a certain level of pride that is hard to describe when everyone thinks Mombasa is a sleepy and laid back city where nothing really innovative happens and that its “raha” (fun) all the time!
So, back to Mobius Motors. The company has been founded by Joel Jackson who is also its CEO. Joel was inspired to start Mobius Motors while working for an international social enterprise at the Kenya Coast. In the process, he came to understand how families suffer tremendously from a lack of appropriate transport. This sort of insight is especially poignant since a good number of people in rural Africa would tell you the same story.
Getting around rural Africa or having reliable and safe transport is often a pipe dream except in the cities and towns. It is often for this very reason that farm produce cannot reach market on time or people needing urgent medical attention often die or suffer needlessly due to transportation challenges. It can be a very bleak picture. This is why I am so jazzed by Mobius Motors – they are doing something with great social purpose and at the same time focusing on a commercial agenda. Whereas their target market may not be able to buy their vehicles, there are many businesses and entrepreneurs who could use financing to get started and operate viably.
As I look at Mobius Motors, I cannot help but feel inspired by the audacity of their vision. Although their vehicles are still work in progress, and they are only now at the prototype testing stage, it’s very possible that this could be a successful and fantastic business going forward. It’s also interesting to note that Tata Motors of India have also come up with a low-cost car called the Nano but one can see that this is more of an urban initiative rather than one that will serve the rural masses in India. The Nano comes across as more of a city commuter rather than a workhorse that the Mobius Motors cars will be.
Mobius Motors’ cars, the Mobius One and Mobius Two, are both rugged workhorses designed to stand the rigors of travel in rural Africa where roads have deep crevasses and often get washed away by rain. It’s often that roads in rural Kenya can be rendered impassable for a normal car and even four-wheel drive “trucks” are challenged when driven on them. The Mobius Motors cars are being designed to withstand punishing conditions to get people from point A to point B in rural Africa. However, the whole business approach is world-class and I wish them success. You can find out more about Mobius Motors and can even donate to their business by going to their web site here>
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