The Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC), the US Government’s development finance institution, has provided a $5m loan to Mobius Motors Kenya, a vehicle manufacturer.
OPIC’s loan is part of a $11m financing, which also includes investment from the New York-based PanAfrican Investment Co.
Mobius, the only company manufacturing cars in Kenya, will use the OPIC loan to expand production.
The company, which has manufactured and sold 50 vehicles to date, will apply the loan proceeds to the development of a new manufacturing facility near Nairobi. Mobius aims to produce an additional 1,900 vehicles by 2019.
“Mobius has developed an innovative solution to the shortage of affordable transportation in Africa, which is one of the biggest hurdles to economic growth,” said Ray W. Washburne, OPIC president and CEO.
“By making transportation more affordable and convenient, these vehicles will improve overall mobility in East Africa, and expand access to education, healthcare, and employment,” he added.
Mobius describes its vehicle as a car Designed for Africa and Built in Africa.
Only about 5% of the population in Africa owns a car, many of the cars on the road are imported used cars that are not suitable for the challenging road conditions.
Public transportation in many regions is also limited and unreliable.
The Mobius vehicles add performance-critical features like rugged suspension, while eliminating nonessentials like parking sensors and automatic windows to keep prices low.
The vehicles rides well on unpaved roads and costs about half the price of a five-year-old SUV.
Several of the company’s early customers have been small businesses including a baker who needed a more durable vehicle to complete product deliveries to remote communities, and a tourism company operator who drives visitors through the Nairobi National Park.