Some of the AltGen team got to attend the Kigali Sustainable Energy for All Forum this past May. While there, we got to engage with some amazing, innovative tech start-up pioneers and entrepreneurs making waves on the fronts on renewable energy and sustainable business, one that stood out, in particular, being a new market disruptor on the fronts of e-vehicles and e-mobility.
It took emptying their personal savings and moving to Rwanda for Tony Adesina and business partner Agenor J. Jean-Louis to get GURARIDE up and running, but four years later they have reaped what they sowed. GURARIDE, and its sister company S.U.L E-Mobility, are the leaders in electric and micro-mobility in Africa.
Introducing GURARIDE (guraride.com); a public bike-share transport company committed to the sustainability of micro-mobility in Africa starting with Rwanda. The company’s main aim is to facilitate the transition from fossil fuel based mobility to other non-pollutant transport alternatives. Initially, GURARIDE launched a pilot bike-share system in Kigali with 30 dockets and 100 smart bikes. Based on a successful launch campaign, the company is now deploying over 300 geared bikes, 100 electric bikes, 50 kick scooters, and almost 15 mopeds spread across Musanze, Rubayu, and Huye with the aim of providing a nationwide non-motorized transport scheme. Having recently launched another pilot for Cairo University in Egypt, the start-up’s goal is to spread micro-mobility across cities in Africa.
Electric vehicles and NMTs are important for sustainable development, which is why AltGen was thrilled to be able to sit down and find out more about what inspired them and how this venture was established.
The two Americans credit their success to their passion for Africa and their hands-on experience and approaches to providing their best results.
“My passion and love for the continent of Africa drove me to explore the potentials and endless opportunities in the clean energy/EV sector starting with Rwanda, a country known for its favorable policies on electric mobility.” Tony B. Adesina, C.E.O, GURARIDE, S.U.L E-Mobility
The company has R&D departments in multiple countries overseas but claims to do its best research in Rwanda. They have been through five models of bikes. ‘If you can get a product to work in Rwanda,’ says Adesina, ‘you can get it to work anywhere.’ The designs, solid in theory, are sent to Rwanda for assembly and testing. The bike must be robust enough to weather the Rwandan climate and hilly landscape. GURARIDE bike-share system operates in a way that allows commuters to access bicycles across various docking stations strategically deployed throughout the city. The model works in a way that users are able to locate a nearby docking station, scan off a bike, ride to a given destination, and park conveniently.
In partnership with the City of Kigali, GURARIDE is starting its operations in two Kigali city corridors and will gradually expand to all city corners as cycling infrastructure/road safety measures are put in place by authorities. GURARIDE has set up partnerships with different government institution and relevant agencies such as the ministry of infrastructure, ministry of environment, the city of Kigali, and different districts’ offices in the country to allow the expansion and scale of its operations.
On the other hand, GURARIDE operates in tandem with its sister company S.U.L E-Mobility legally registered as SAFI Universal Link Ltd in Rwanda. S.U.L E-Mobility is an electric mobility solutions provider offering a complete value chain for green transport and logistics solutions in Africa starting with Rwanda. It’s value chain ranges from manufacturing of electric vehicles, assembling, maintenance & repairs, leasing management software, on-demand ride hailing, e-commerce & last mile logistics, capacity building, and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. With 5 years expertise and proven systems across the continent, the company built on its series of success stories in the e-mobility industry to spur the electric mobility uptake in some of Africa’s key markets like Rwanda, DRC, and Ethiopia.
Under S.U.L E-Mobility, subsidiary companies have been established with the aim of providing a more robust green electric mobility business model that caters to the entire transport and logistics ecosystem. The companies include:
SAFIRIDE founded 2018, is an on-demand e-mobility ride-hailing company committed to the sustainability of the environment through the use of electric motorcycle. It uses cutting-edge technology to provide on-demand ride request services, products for mobile app solutions, cashless easy to use payment systems, transport services for Corporate Businesses and Organizations.
MISSION – To disrupt the transportation sector by innovating and re-inventing mobility in Africa alongside providing a sense of belonging, comfort, and safety to all consumers while enjoying their ride.
SAFIRUN Logistics Ltd founded in 2018 is an all-in-one Eco-Friendly product delivery & logistics technology company that connects people with the best local merchants/stores in their cities via convenient delivery, pick & drop, and catering.
The company offers cost effective logistic solutions to local businesses, government and non-government organizations, and home delivery companies all over Kigali. The start-up’s approach allows it to assume our partners’ logistic operation workload by reassigning all fleet management responsibilities to its staff while generating new revenue streams for their partners’ businesses.
MISSION – To make life easier for consumers with lightning-fast eco-friendly delivery while protecting the environment by cutting down carbon-emissions.
EVPLUGIN is one of the leading EV charging station network in Africa, with focus on aiding the transition to electric mobility while creating worldwide awareness on the importance of e-mobility to our environment and providing the best charging experience to all its users.
MISSION – To lead the evolution of e-mobility by promoting green transport, zero carbon emission vehicles, and by providing a reliable charging network across Africa.
The aforementioned innovations are not their only home-grown solutions. The organization has internal IT, accounts, HR, customer service, design, media, operations, repairs and maintenance and training departments, all consisting of individuals who have been recruited and trained locally in Rwanda and elsewhere on the continent, including the SAFIRIDE riders knowns as ‘Captains’ or SAFIRUN delivery staff known as ‘runners’. The organization’s founders see it as illogical to hire internationals permanently instead of giving the residents of Rwanda and Africans in general the opportunity to be trained, and thus empowering the local economy while creating a feasible business structure. Their approach to recruitment is not founded on resumes or first impressions, but on the employee’s response to the company culture. Tony Adesina, the C.E.O himself, is a Pennsylvania State University Engineering Alumni who decided to turn a blind eye on white collar jobs in pursuit of becoming a serial entrepreneur, founder, investor, innovator and philanthropist. Today, he is the founder of GURARIDE, SAFIRIDE, SAFIRUN, EVPLUGIN, and SUL MOBILITY, companies all operating in the green transport/e-mobility sector. Tony Adesina and his fellow cofounders believe anyone can be trained and enabled to the extent of unlocking unprecedented life-changing opportunities.
GURARIDE and S.U.L E-Mobility organizations is founded on an impact driven set of innovations that reflect the company’s community-centric business model and youth empowerment initiatives. One issue they’ve dedicated themselves to tackling is sexual inequality, which is particularly present in male-dominated spaces such as the transport and logistics industry in Rwanda and Africa. In their efforts to upskill the labour pool, they have trained 300 women and 2150 youth to work in their assembly line. Their goal is not only to employ these skilled workers, but to equip them with the tools to begin their own businesses and ventures, and to essentially create a skilful and financially independent community. As of June 2022, S.U.L E-Mobility launched the ‘Women Empowerment in Entrepreneurship’ (W.E.I.E) initiative under its E-Mobility Academy with the purpose of training 120 women in Kigali and further equipping them with electric motorcycles, work kits, and electronic gadgets. The initiative is set to generate a daily revenue of 12 to 15 US Dollars per day to each beneficiary that has successfully graduated from the initiative’s training program. November 2022, predicting an increase to around 400 trainees, the organization’s commitment and dedication to sustainability also goes one step further than its innovations and solutions in the electric mobility space. In an effort to ensure an authentic transition from ICE motorcycles to electric motorbikes, S.U.L E-Mobility has partnered with ENVIROSERVE which a local authorized recycling and E-waste management company. The partnership is set to trigger the recycling and repurposing of electric motorcycle batteries that have reached their end of life while retrieving ICE motorcycles engine parts such as exhaust pipes from operators in order to scrap them.
The organization’s founders came up with strategic approaches to generate funding for these large-scale programmes. Such approaches including, but not limited to, GURARIDE sponsored bike-share programs that allows businesses and big corporate brands to place their adverts on bicycles, partnerships with financing institutions to offer leasing system to operators interested in acquiring EVs, and fund sourcing from international sponsors and donors who take heart in spurring change in this world through the organization’s different initiatives. S.U.L E-Mobility and GURARIDE own the entire system, allowing total control over the brand. All on-ground solutions and assets are a long-term investment; the founders are not in the business for quick money. Instead, they view their innovations as ‘social solutions’ with the purpose of uplifting the community. Their advice to cleantech entrepreneurs is commitment to the ideas, when you have a truly feasible and unique idea it’s worth investing in. Don’t worry about the money at first; it will come. First you must solidify your idea and be committed, and if you don’t believe in what you’re selling, don’t sell it. Look at everything as a lesson to do better next time.
These insights are so valuable in the entrepreneurial and tech start-up space. AltGen has the privilege of engaging with and learning from some seriously innovative individuals and companies in the renewable energy and sustainability sector, and truly believe that the lessons from Tony Adesina and Jean-Louis on backing your ideas, taking the risk and investing in your venture, and strive for socio-economic betterment through your business, then you are on the right path!
We hope you have found our second instalment of #disruptorsden insightful and inspiring. Are you or anyone you know doing amazing things and making waves in their field to totally change certain economic and social paths? We really want to know more, so send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to fill out this form telling us more!