Reverse Engineering Bicycles to Develop New Businesses, Products and Increased Income for the Metalworking and Agriculture Industries in Lebialem (Cameroon)

San Jose State University, 2009 - $20,000

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This E-Team is looking to solve three interrelated problems in Lebialem, Cameroon with products derived from bicycle parts. Most people in Lebialem earn two dollars a day, primarily from agriculture, which requires people to walk 20-40 kilometers to get to market, bringing only what they can carry. Houses aren’t electrified, which makes nighttime activities like studying more difficult. And while there’s a longstanding metalworking industry in the region, it’s currently on the decline. The team proposes three products, derived mostly from old bicycles, to help stimulate the metalworking industry and overcome the first two problems:

  • The River Light: a small hydrokinetic device that charges portable LEDs (home lighting)
  • The Side Cart: a side-cart for a bicycle to increase carrying capacity when going to market
  • The Universal Connector: a steel joint that can be the central unit for other products

The team has developed several iterations of prototypes of each of the three products. They’ve partnered with specialists from the cycling industry (Specialized Bicycles) and a Lebialem community group. With NCIIA funding the team will build third-generation prototypes, travel to Lebialem to do user testing and meet with metalworkers, build final prototypes, and start manufacturing in Lebialem.