Engineering next generation bicycle components for developing country consumers

Baisikeli Ugunduzi | Kenya 

Baisikeli Ugunduzi

$100,000 | Stage 1: Proof of Concept | Global Health; Environment & Global Climate Change

The problem: Keeping wheels turning 

Getting from A to B in rural Sub-Saharan Africa can be no small feat.  Where infrastructure is sparse, bicycles can provide a critical alternative to those whose health and prosperity depend on their ability to move. For Kenya’s bicycle taxis, they are a direct source of livelihood.

Especially in rural areas, the supply of affordable, high-quality bicycles and bicycle components is virtually non-existent. Traditional approaches to supplying the demand for bicycles involves giving away donated bicycles that are often incompatible with local replacement parts, selling high-quality bicycles for too high a price, and selling  low-price, poor-quality bicycles that require expensive upkeep. As a result, many riders rely on poor-quality models that require frequent and expensive maintenance, and spend up to a quarter of their incomes on flat tires alone. 

The solution: Tougher tires for those who need them most

Startup social enterprise Baisikeli Ugunduzi (“innovative bicycle”) has invented a product to help rid bicyclists of one chronic transportation challenge—the flat tire. Their flexible, solid tube lasts for up to five years and can be fitted to any size bicycle. With DIV stage 1 funding, Baisikeli Ugunduzi will bring the milele tube to its first test market of Kitale, Kenya. Baisikeli Ugunduzi will perform the final round of large-scale testing with Kenya’s bicycle taxis, and begin initial production and sales through the local bicycle taxi union and local shops.

The potential: Cost-effectiveness, impacts, and implications

While traditional bicycle tubes cost $3 and need to be replaced every few weeks when riding on Kenya's rough terrain, the Baisikeli Ugunduzi tubes cost just over $10 for up to five years of use, and can be financed at 25 cents per day. Through strong relationships with Kenyan bike taxi unions and bicycle taxi drivers, Baisikeli Ugunduzi is expanding beyond the bicycle tire to develop more quality, affordable bicycle components. Baisikeli Ugunduzi targets a 20% rise in incomes for its users. Baisikeli Ugunduzi targets a 20% rise in incomes for its customers. 

To learn more

  • Peruse a photo album of the milele tubes in action
  • Watch a video about how Baisikeli Ugunduzi will raise the value of bicycles in Kenya
  • Follow the team's progress on their blog

Last updated: August 01, 2013

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