November 19, 2014
Bikes grow on trees in Uganda through a new bamboo bike business
contributor: Rob Goodier
There’s nothing quite like the feeling of growing your own bicycle, and a US team called Bandha Bikes is doing just that, teaching Ugandan builders to turn bamboo into bikes. The bamboo grows locally, so the only ingredients needed for small bike manufacturing businesses are the know-how and the steel parts.
Bandha, an offshoot of Hatch International in Washington, DC, is taking care of the know-how. After settling on a design that was two years in the making, Bandha set up shop in Jinja, a village in Uganda. Now Bandha is teaching people in the community to build, maintain and repair their own bikes. To pay for the work, and for the parts that they can’t grow, Bandha has turned to the Internet and the power of crowdfunding.
The group takes donations through its page on Start Some Good. Incentives for giving range from a thank you card to handmade furniture or a scenic painting by two of the artistic members of the Bandha.
Two aspects of the project that we like are the emphasis on teaching new skills and the commitment to ongoing monitoring and evaluation. The graphic below illustrates Bandha’s model.
These photos offer a glimpse at the bike build and the finished design. For more, see the huge photo gallery at Bandha’s Facebook page.