Mozambikes is a for-profit social venture based in Maputo, Mozambique. Founded by Lauren Thomas and Rui Mesquita, the initiative develops affordable bicycles to be used in rural areas where no other form of transport is available.
They make use of an innovative business model where advertisers can effectively buy advertising space on the bikes, subsidizing the cost for low income consumers. Mozambikes started as an idea during a road trip across Mozambique in March of 2009, when Rui Mesquita, the co-founder of Mozambikes, and Lauren Thomas encountered person after person walking with massive containers of water or bundles of firewood on their heads.
Given the scarcity of public transportation in rural regions, these people often have no alternatives. Even where the system of mini-buses exists, many people must walk kilometers to and from stops and are subjected to dangerous overcrowding during their rides. Bicycles were an obvious solution, yet they found few providers and none with prices affordable to people who truly need them. Then they began to discuss how they would design a bicycle business.
Mozambique is an agriculture-based nation, with nearly 90% of the population engaged in small-scale farming in the informal sector. These are the people living on less than $2 per day, as they face numerous obstacles in finding employment, reaching markets and carrying product, among others. Mozambikes was started to provide these Mozambicans with a form of efficient transportation: the bicycle.
The company procures everything locally that they can and purchase all paints, branding materials, tolls and labor from Mozambique. Unfortunately, there is not a component manufacturing facility in Southern Africa and so they do import components. This is a potential exciting expansion opportunity for Mozambikes in the future as well.
The bikes are assembled locally by Mozambike employees, who also work on bicycle-related innovations such as an accompanying trailer and a bicycle ambulance.
Another model allows the bikes to be purchased directly by an organization who can brand it with their logo and colours. The organization then distributes the bikes independently, usually as a form of corporate social responsibility (CSR) or promotional marketing.
Both models allow the bikes to become a form of mobile advertising, penetrating hard-to-reach rural markets.All bicycles are assembled by hand, and therefore energy and water usage are nearly nonexistent. The bicycles are higher quality than similar bicycles on the market and have features important to a developmental mission, such as a carrying structure on the back, reflectors and front light.Mozambikes assembles and customizes our bicycles locally with a phenomenal team and also contribute to the economy with labor, regional sourcing and taxes.