Who Invested In Mobius, The Made-In-Kenya Car Company?
From HowWeMadeItInAfrica. Story by Dinfin Mulupi.
In 1986 the Kenyan government pursued an ambitious plan to develop the country’s first locally-made vehicle. However, the Nyayo Car, as it was named, never hit the market.
But that dream to produce a Kenyan-made car has come true, championed by entrepreneur Joel Jackson, 30, with the backing of domestic and international investors. At a plant in Thika, a town outside Nairobi, Mobius Motors is building a mass market vehicle, specifically designed for the poor road conditions in Kenya.
The start-up auto firm has received the backing of U.S. billionaire Ronald Lauder through his New York-headquartered PanAfrican Investment Co., LLC.
One of the local investors behind Mobius Motors is the Chandaria Group, a Kenyan diversified group of companies. The investment is led by Darshan Chandaria, CEO of the Chandaria Group.
Chandaria says he invested in Mobius Motors because of the automaker’s potential to expedite the growth of early stage businesses, and to “enhance affordable mobility for budding entrepreneurs at the bottom of the pyramid”.
“It’s an opportunity for them to own a cost-effective, reliable and functional vehicle which will definitely enable them to run their businesses more efficiently,” says Chandaria. “In rural Kenya today we are using second hand imported vehicles which are not suited to the poor road conditions. We are custom building a vehicle to suit the Kenyan road conditions.”
Mobius Motors was established by Joel Jackson, a British computer science graduate who was inspired by his experiences in rural Kenya. In 2009 Jackson was working with a start-up forestry venture and noticed that one of the biggest hurdles communities faced was immobility. So he embarked on building a car for the poor road conditions in Kenya.
In late 2014 the automaker’s Mobius II model hit the showrooms. The eight-seater vehicle features no frills such as air conditioning, but it scores high on key functionality and is fit for travelling and carrying goods over long distances on bumpy dirt roads. At US$11,000 it is the lowest-priced new vehicle in Kenya.
One of Mobius Motors’s customers is Kenya’s president Uhuru Kenyatta who reportedly placed an order after a test drive at an exhibition.
But even with its lower price compared to other new cars, Chandaria notes that Mobius Motors is indeed an ambitious project.
“It’s high risk… but (Mobius Motors) has the ability to positively transform the economies of African countries. It is an opportunity to have a massive social impact on the lives of Kenyans and Africans as we grow the business.”
Read more at HowWeMadeItInAfrica.