How this Bengaluru-based company finances motorists to switch to electric three-wheelers


There are 12 million rickshaw drivers in India, and among them, 50% rent their vehicle. The financing currently available to rickshaw drivers has extremely high down payment and interest rates, making loans impossible for many drivers. Although electric 3-wheeler is more attractive to a driver due to lower total cost of ownership and higher profitability, due to lack of financing options, car drivers cannot switch to electric vehicles .

To meet their demands, Cedrick Tandong, an entrepreneur born and raised in Cameroon, Africa, founded “Three Wheels United” (TWU), along with Kevin Wervenbos and Apurv Mehra in 2017. The platform strives to promote a sustainable last mile connectivity by financing electric rickshaws and improving the incomes of these drivers.

Tandong first visited India in 2008 as a management consultant. He was then inspired to launch a platform that would help low and middle income groups in society.

Switching from conventional motors to electric vehicles

With its easy finance solutions, Three Wheels United helps drivers easily switch from conventional engines to electric vehicles, helping them generate more income and reduce air pollution.

The Bengaluru-based tech startup directly funds auto rickshaw drivers at a fair interest rate covering up to 100% of the cost of the vehicle without asking for any collateral.

Unlike traditional banks which collect IMEs at the end of the month in bulk, Three Wheels United collects money on a daily / weekly basis in small amounts. TWU is able to tap into drivers’ finances when they are actually making money and in a way that is aligned with their lifestyle.

The basic premise on which the platform was built is to leverage data to improve and support decision making for all stakeholders by providing relevant contextual information instead of automating it.

TWU interacts with the drivers on a daily basis, working closely with them to ensure that they have all the necessary tools to make a living and support them until the loan is repaid.

Last year, the company was one of 50 climate innovation startups, selected from over 600 applicants and over 60 countries as part of Third Derivative’s inaugural cohort.

“Since traditional banks cannot fund rickshaw drivers, they depend on NBFCs and alternative financiers, which are very expensive. The financing available for drivers of light vehicles has an extremely high down payment, which makes obtaining a loan impossible for many drivers. This is the problem that Three Wheels United is tackling, ”the company told The logical Indian.

“We offer loans that cover up to 100% of the cost of the vehicle at affordable interest rates, better than those offered by most other NBFCs. We finance drivers directly at a fair interest rate covering up to 100% of the cost of the vehicle without asking for any collateral, ”the company said.

According to a 2018 report published in The International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, auto rickshaws in Bangalore contributed 0.45 million tonnes of carbon dioxide, 1,445 tonnes of nitrogen oxide and 164 tonnes of particles 10.

Funded over 3000 auto rickshaws to date

So far, Three Wheels United has worked with over 30,000 drivers providing them with various products and services, funded over 3,000 auto rickshaws that have reduced 22,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and generated a additional income of $ 20 million for drivers. The company has also set up a buy-back program in association with major manufacturers to scrap auto rickshaws over 10 years old. In addition, it has funded more than 100 electric vehicles and struck a deal for the next 500 vehicles over the next two months.

“Since most drivers are not used to saving, TWU is able to tap into their finances when they are actually making money and in a way that fits their lifestyle,” said declared the company.

Three Wheels United was launched with the help and support of a program funded by the European Commission. They have raised $ 1million in equity from various investors including South British Capital, Techstars and angel investors. They are also supported by Microsoft. Recently, the platform was selected for Third Derivative’s first cohort of climate innovation startups. Three Wheels is one of 50 climate innovation startups, selected from over 600 applicants in over countries.

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