School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics teams up with social enterprise Ecobike to bring bamboo bikes to Ethiopia...

Friday, 30 November 2018

bamboo bikes1 news

Social entrepreneur and winner of the Mandela Washington Fellowship, Ethiopia Wondimu, visited Oxford Brookes on Wednesday 28 November to follow-up on work she's been doing with our Cycle Mobility Group.

It's been an honor and a privilege to work with James, Shpend, Daniel and Mike at Oxford Brookes, as we all share the same passion to get these bikes into the hands of people. I's just astonishing to see how passionate and devoted they have been from day one. This is truly only the beginning!

Ethiopia Wondimu

Ethiopia has been learning how to make bamboo bicycles (Ecobikes) with the Oxford Brookes School of Engineering, Computing and Mathematics this year. Using the Oxford Brookes design for a bamboo bike, her business will construct bikes using local and natural resources that will help offer transport to commuters in the rural and urban parts of Ethiopia. As it goes on, the project will also aim to empower women and low income groups with access to employment opportunities and training in skilled work.  

After successfully creating the prototypes back in July, she visited on Wednesday to formally hand over the Ecobike design and license to manufacture. She has now returned to Ethiopia where she has set up Ecobike Manufacturing PLC, who will begin construction.

Speaking of the project, Ethiopia said: “It's been an amazing journey trying to bring bamboo bikes to Ethiopia, especially since Ethiopia has a very large area (about one million hectares) of bamboo that is commercially untapped. Ecobike is about not letting distance become a barrier. It's about affording people the ability to be mobile and better their livelihoods. It's been an honor and a privilege to work with James, Shpend, Daniel and Mike at Oxford Brookes, as we all share the same passion to get these bikes into the hands of people. I's just astonishing to see how passionate and devoted they have been from day one. This is truly only the beginning!"

Her work on Ecobikes was made possible thanks winning a grant of $25,000 when she took part in a business plan competition by USADF (United States African Development Foundation). She is also the recipient of the Mandela Washington Fellowship for young African Leaders and spent 3 months in the United States taking a series of courses and training on the Leadership aspects of Business and Entrepreneurship. Winning the USADF grant allowed her to rent the premises for her first bike workshop and visit Oxford Brookes to develop the prototypes.

Mrs Wondimu contacted the Schoolafter seeing a clip on YouTube of the bike when it was first shown on BBC World News. The bamboo bike was developed in 2011, and put through its paces in a 400-mile Craft Bike Transalp event. The recently formed Cycle Mobility Group, comprising of Daniel Bell, Shpend Gerguri and James Broughton from Oxford Brookes’ School of ECM, will be working with the enterprise to support the engineering development and manufacturing of the bikes and future products.