By Charles Wanguhu
In many international forums the developed nations are always pushed to provide more aid in the fight against poverty. Several reviews on the effectiveness of aid have proved time and time again its ineffectiveness in poverty eradication. The latter has led to current aid driven projects to often try and include sustainability options in all projects undertaken.
The identification of the problem is usually the easy part the “how do we do it” is the more complex part. A bike building operation in Zambia however offers an innovative opportunity for local Zambians to get job opportunities and may in the end offer a route out of poverty.
The key feature of the enterprise is the use of locally grown Bamboo plant in the bike manufacturing process. One of the advantages of using local material is that it was low cost and readily available. Mr Calfee a co founder of the company believes that the bikes will be a great hit based on advanced orders that he has received.
However a great challenge remains in the business environment and is the entry point for African policy makers. Bureaucracy greatly hinders innovators with a myriad of licensing requirements, lack of tax relief on upcoming projects, corruption and a lack of access to capital. African governments have to take the lead in these reforms if aims of uplifting its citizens out of poverty are to be achieved.
The bikes aptly named Bamboosero may yet prove that Innovation and not aid may be the best route out of poverty.