Asambe & Kuva’s Partnership Shows the Potential of Fintech, E-Commerce, & Electric Mobility to Transform Africa

Environment

Asambe, an all-electric transportation and end-to-end logistics service, is scaling up operations building on its initial pilot and several partnerships for delivery services. Asambe already has 3rd party last-mile delivery agreements with:

  • FedEx, Zimbabwe (parcel deliveries)
  • Baines Avenue Pharmacy, Zimbabwe (medical supplies)
  • Munch, Zimbabwe (food delivery)
  • UberEats, South Africa (food delivery)

Asambe is actively seeking additional 3rd party last-mile delivery agreements in Zimbabwe and South Africa initially, riding on the strong value proposition of electric bicycles in the last-mile delivery space. Electric vehicles have lower operational costs relative to petrol motorbikes due to significantly lower fuel and maintenance costs, allowing them to offer competitive delivery rates.

The bicycles are charged using solar, which is affordable, reliable, locally available, and environmentally friendly, allowing them to offer uninterrupted services in a market hit hard by loadshedding. This is another example showing the beauty of PV and EVs.

Asambe is focused on the electric bicycle delivery niche as the mode of choice for all deliveries <20 km and packages <40 kg, and has also started to incorporate small passenger hybrid electric vehicles in its deliveries. The electric bicycles have a 0.84 Wh battery pack, a top speed of 40 km/h, a range of 60 km, and can be charged in about 5 hours.

The Asambe electric bicycle actually tells a good story of a Southern African collaboration that is great for regional trade between Zimbabwe and Namibia. The bicycles are made by e-Bikes for Africa, based in Namibia, and have swappable batteries. “The battery swapping model results in reduced vehicle downtime, alleviating range anxiety and allowing us to go further,” says Kumbirai Makanza, Founder of Asambe. The Asambe ream also includes Frederick Kufa, Head Of Operations, and Fungai Dube, Creative Director. “Electric bicycles do not require a licence, nor do they pay vehicle tax. This widens the pool of applicable delivery employees. In addition, electric bicycles are agile and faster in dense urban traffic (i.e., rush hour), allowing us employ youth and to get there faster!”

Asambe recently partnered with Kuva Local, an e-commerce platform geared towards tapping the diaspora market. Kuva is best known for its fintech product Kuva Cash. Kuva also has a beverage business called Koovha Beverages that includes beer, cider, and sparkling wine. Kuva aims to use at least 30% solar energy in the production of Koovha Beers and is in the process of eliminating use of plastic packaging. The partnership with Asambe is very much aligned with their sustainability values. “As Asambe, we do all their deliveries across Harare with a combination of e-bikes and hybrid vehicles. We have also started our own e-commerce platform, Asambe shop. The platform aims to be the first all-electric delivery e-commerce site on the continent.” Asambe completed its Seed Capital Round earlier this year that attracted investment from Power Ventures Africa amongst others.

Asambe is developing a series of delivery-only shared kitchens and warehouses across Zimbabwe. Benefits for merchants which participate in the spaces include and are not limited to:

  • Exclusive access to the Asambe e-commerce platform
  • Reduced space rental cost
  • Low-cost, efficient business scaling
  • Access to a wide range of kitchen equipment and appliances
  • Access to the Asambe procurement system (which provides economies of scale and reduces input costs)
  • Access to marketing through Asambe platforms
  • Preferred access to Asambe Food Markets

And most importantly:

  • Access to a good vibe learning and sharing environment (ecosystem)

“We are able to deliver more effectively as we use a system of shared kitchens and shared warehouses. This ensures orders come from a central location which covers certain high traffic zones. We have a property in Avondale and a second in Helensvale. We will begin our pilot in the Avondale location this coming week.”

Asambe’s shared kitchen and warehouse model will lower the barriers to entry for young entrepreneurs looking to get into this industry. Innovations in the fintech and e-commerce space are empowering businesses across Africa. The addition of energy-efficient and low-cost electric bicycles in this ecosystem looks set to unlock more value and catalyse economic growth in these markets.

We are starting to see a lot more delivery companies using electric bicycles and motorcycles. We hope to see more of these across the continent. The transition to electric mobility is well underway in the major automobile markets, such as China, the USA, and Europe. The synergies between fintech, e-commerce, PV, and EVs could catalyse adoption in Africa, especially in the electric motorcycle and bicycle markets.

All images courtesy of Asambe and Kuva.

 



 


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