World Bicycle Relief
The Buffalo Bicycle is designed to help users carry heavy loads over long distances in rural areas.
Buffalo Bicycles are designed for people in rural areas travelling long distances over difficult terrain. The bicycles are capable of carrying heavy loads and are designed to be compatible with locally available spare parts to allow for proper maintenance.
The target users are those needing to travel considerable distances with a lack of mobility options. World Bicycle Relief targets primarily students, healthcare workers and entrepreneurs.
Buffalo Bicycles are distributed through two key means: nonprofit programs funded by global supporters that provide the bikes for students, health workers and entrepreneurs; and social enterprise sales to organisations, businesses and individuals.
An example of their nonprofit initiatives is their education program. Built together with local Bicycle Supervisory Committees (BSCs) which consist of 10-12 community leaders, village elders, teachers, parents, and students who select bicycle recipients, enforce beneficiary contracts and monitor the sustainability elements of the program.
As of 2020, 500,000+ bikes have been distributed across Africa, South America and Southeast Asia.
The number of people that can fit within product [Persons]
The ratio between the rates at which the last and first gears rotate
Each bike weighs ~22 kg, and has a rear carrier rack that can hold up to 100 kg. The frame, made from oversized 15 gauge steel tubing, has a dipped top tube to suit riders as young as 9. The bike is designed for compatibility with locally available spare parts. They have puncture resistant long-wear tires, heavy gauge spokes and rims.
Additional design specifications are available in this comparison PDF.
Trained field mechanics ensure access to maintenance and spare parts.
The bike is designed for compatibility with locally available spare parts. World Bicycle Relief (WRB) also work to improve distribution and access of spare parts through a network of trained mechanics and local shops.
To provide riders with better access to education, healthcare services and economic opportunities.
SRI Education evaluated the impact of WRB’s Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) in their South Africa opportunity study. The study includes findings such as: dramatic reductions in travel time to school reported by students given the bikes; an increase in on-time arrival at school with 95% of students saying they were less likely to be late; and claims of widespread improvement in academic performance, with 88% of learners reporting improved grades. Improvements were attributed to the students having more time for studying, reduced fatigue and increased concentration.
SRI Education, a division of SRI International.
Potential hazards include traffic accidents or pedestrian crashes, especially when sufficient training has not been received.
It is possible for a cart to be attached to the bicycle to transport goods. There are also a range of attachments available to be hitched to a bicycle for agricultural productivity, as well as technology that harnesses the kinetic energy of motion to produce electricity (i.e. dynamo phone chargers).
This paper uses World Bicycle Relief as one of the main examples of social enterprise strategies:
Yang, Y. and Wu, S., 2015, An Exploratory Study to Understand the Internationalization Strategies of Social Enterprises, Journal of Social Entrepreneurship, 6:1, pp. 31-41. DOI: 10.1080/19420676.2014.954255.
The manufacturer engages with partners, riders and mechanics to assess whether programs achieve their intended outcomes. Impact and sustainability are measured by evaluating program usage and reviewing and monitoring project data from start to finish. For the product, they evaluate trends related to durability, cost of ownership and access to spare parts.
WBR submit yearly global impact reports, country reports and regular case studies which can be accessed here.
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