The Bamboo Bike Project seeks to build a safe, reliable and multi-purpose bicycle suitable for African conditions
Bamboo Bike Project
using native bamboo while establishing the first bicycle production industry in Africa. We feel strongly that bam-
boo bikes have the potential to improve the lives of many Africans – not only by delivering a sustainable and af-
fordable form of transportation that satisfies local needs, but also by creating employment opportunities and,
eventually, bringing about needed economic growth.
The work of the Providing convenient transportation for far-
Bamboo Bike mers to carry goods to markets.
Project to date has Although ubiquitous, bicycles today are generally of
been largely com- poor quality, dangerous, costly to maintain and not
pleted with the highly adaptable to the road conditions typical in Afri-
help of volunteers ca. Designs have not improved in decades and are ap-
and a small amount propriate only for personal transport on good road
of seed funding conditions. In addition, despite the very real need for
from the Earth in- bicycles in sub-Saharan Africa, there are no local bi-
stitute, Columbia cycle manufacturers anywhere on the continent.
University. Now, the transition to an economical
model of mass production requires additional support.
To this end, an investment of $80,000 would help the
An Overview of the Bamboo Bike Project:
Bamboo Bike Project to establish a production facility To address the need for greater access to inexpensive,
employing 20 people and producing 20,000 bikes per multi-purpose transportation in poor, rural areas of
year. In return for this investment, we offer a number sub-Saharan Africa, the Earth Institute at Columbia
of attractive incentives, including access to bike tech- University initiated the Bamboo Bike project in 2007.
nology and technical advice on bike construction.
The main objectives of the project are twofold: (1) to
NOTE: Africa imports an estimated 30 million
Why Bicycles Matter in sub-Saharan Africa:
Virtually all forms of production and commerce rely
on efficient transportation infrastructure. However, in bikes per year, yet there are no bike manufactur-
sub-Saharan Africa, a lack of suitable transportation ers on the continent!
limits enterprise and access to social services. To this
end, bicycles can design and build a bike suitable for people in rural
fill an extremely Africa using native bamboo, and (2) to establish a bi-
important need by cycle production industry in Africa to satisfy local
providing an af- needs.
fordable form of
transportation at a A unique cargo bike was designed, built and tested in
relatively modest Ghana using bamboo for the bicycle frame, rather than
cost that substan- commonly used steel. Bamboo is grown locally in
tially improves many regions of Africa, and the manufacturing of bi-
mobility over walking. Bikes provide a number of cycle frames does not require costly infrastructure or
benefits, including: reliable electricity. Bamboo framed bicycles are lighter
• Helping reduce transportation time; and stronger than steel frames, adaptable to difficult
• Opening new markets for trade; road conditions and can be easily modified for differ-
• Improving access to social services, including ent needs, such as carrying farm loads, passengers,
healthcare and education;
food, water and medicine. They can also be made in a
design suitable for women.
Statement of Need:
The project is now reaching a critical stage. Our part-
Most importantly, the bikes are very affordable. In ners are establishing suitable manufacturing sites in
2008, KPMG analyzed the feasibility of bamboo bicycle Africa and our engineers in New York are creating the
production in Ghana and found that bikes can be pro- systems needed to go to full production. However, the
duced for less than $50, and sold for significantly less transition from prototype production to large-scale
than the existing market price of bikes imported from production is a critical step that will require new in-
China and India. The payback period is less than two vestment. An investment of up to $80,000 will go a
years when producing 20,000 bikes per annum. long way toward ensuring the feasibility and viability
of this project.
In addition to their
low cost, the manufac- The funding would be used primarily in four ways:
turing of bamboo bi- • Testing ($15,000) – to continue testing and
cycle frames will refining bike construction;
create employment, • Sourcing ($20,000) – to identify established
thereby helping sti- metal parts vendors from China or elsewhere,
mulate local enter- and secure quality parts (chains, cranks, han-
prise and economic dlebars, etc.) to establish an effective supply
development. Given chain;
the existing demand for affordable bikes and the sca- • Development ($30,000) – to create and re-
lability of this model to other cities in sub-Saharan fine tools that ensure bikes can be produced in
Africa, bamboo bikes have the potential to become a significant numbers and in a reasonable
viable business opportunity with significant social and amount of time; and
economic impact. • Training/Set-up ($15,000) – to transfer the
technology to Africa and train workers.
Next Steps for the Bamboo Bike Project:
The project is ready to scale-up to “factory-style” bike
production. Economies of scale can be created and
NOTE: Did you know Bamboo has a tensile strength
workers trained to perform skilled tasks in a coordi-
greater than steel?
nated and efficient way to meet the scale of the need.
Your investment would receive a number of benefits
A local investor in Kumasi, Ghana has committed to in return: (1) the no-cost provision of bamboo bikes
helping develop factory-scale production. A lease for a technology; (2) technical advice on bamboo bike con-
production facility has been obtained, and agreements struction techniques; and (3) an introduction to other
reached to harvest current and potential investors, to build effective re-
local bamboo. The gional and international networks, as well as positive
Bamboo Bike Project media exposure and publicity.
has also engaged in
discussions with in-
terested investors in
We welcome your support to
Kenya, as well as a
make this vision a reality!
number of prospec-
tive buyers, including
For more information, please contact the Bamboo
NGOs based in Africa and the United States. In addi-
Bike Project at email@example.com, or the Mil-
tion, recent innovations, coupled with new construc-
lennium Cities Initiative at firstname.lastname@example.org.
tion techniques, will allow bamboo bikes to be com-
Please visit: http://bamboobike.org or
pleted in less than two hours.