Lauren Thomas

Finalist 2011

Lauren Thomas

Mozambikes imports, assembles and sells high-quality bicycles at affordable prices to businesses and individuals in low-income markets.

In 2007, when Lauren Thomas was a successful young financier on Wall Street, she felt that something was missing from her life and left New York to do an international MBA in Spain. ‘I love crunching numbers and am passionate about finance but thought it was time to experience different cultures and languages and make more of an impact.’

She then applied for a programme in Latin America with Technoserve, an NGO fighting poverty through business, who instead offered her a four-month mission in Mozambique to raise capital for local ventures. On a road trip to visit the country with her now business partner, two things caught their eyes: the number of people walking along the roads due to a lack of bus transportation and the sheer quantities of goods piled onto the few bicycles that went by.

‘We wondered why more people didn’t just buy bicycles and found that they were not only sold at very high prices, especially in remote areas where retailers take high margins, but they were also poor quality and frequently buckled under the weight of all the goods piled on them,’ says Lauren.’ Three years later and Mozambikes, the business the two entrepreneurs decided to set up together, has just shipped its first container of 1,200 bicycles into the country.