The company sells quality Chinese-import bicycles made to stringent standards at a price up to six times lower than their lesser counterparts. The bikes have been specially reinforced to meet the needs of the local market, such as stronger tyres to deal with difficult road surfaces and extended back plates on which to stock goods and wares. To manage maintenance, quality control and the customisation process on which the business model hinges, Mozambikes has established a local factory, where workers first assemble the parts and verify that each one matches the quality requirements adapted to a rugged terrain. As one of the few for-profit businesses in the country working towards development, providing jobs to the community is an aspect about which the company is adamant. ‘Many outside investors bring their own workforce from Asia, which in my book doesn’t go far enough,’ says Lauren.
To keep this quality at a decent price, the business model is based on customising the bikes to make them into an advertising platform. ‘Branding the bicycles subsidises the cost and reaches consumers in low-income regions, both in terms of heightened penetration for brands and purchasing ability for the people. It’s a win-win scenario,’ says Lauren. Businesses too are interested in buying fleets of vehicles sporting their name for their employees and individuals gain affordable access to a means of transport that will enhance their lives: research in countries such as Tanzania and Uganda shows that bicycle use improves income by up to 55% for the poorest populations. Not only does it shave transport time by two to three hours, it increases the amount of land a farmer can work on, intensifies cultivation, and ups the amount of non-agricultural and market trade people can pursue.