: Handmade bike cushions from Kenya

This Entry has been submitted. : Handmade bike cushions from Kenya

Kisumu, KenyaUtrecht, Netherlands
Organization type: 
for profit
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Handmade bike cushions from Kenya. Robust and colorful, promoting cycling together in Europe and the local economy in Kenya!

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

1 In the Netherlands, cycling is big. Most people have a bike and use it daily. Hitching a ride on the carrier rack of a friend is a normal things, but quite inconvenient for your bottom and legs because of the hard and cold metal. A ride on the back of a bicycle is generally seen as a nescessary evil, useful but painful. 2 In recent years cycling is attracting more positive attention, because it is seen as carbon-neutral way of transporting yourself. People are proud to cycle and like to decorate their bikes with speical gadgets. 3 Export of end products from developing countries is traditionally small. This means that although exported quantities can be huge, but the added value relatively small.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The solution is simple but perfect: in Western-Kenya, local bicycle taxis called Bodaboda's transport thousands of people every day from A to B in a sustainable and conveniant way. The key ingredient to this: a strong, colorful but above all, soft cushion that is placed on the carriers of the taxis. Local producers are eager to make the cushions for an international market. Contacts have already been made and the cushions can be produced for competitive prices while the manufacturers receive a fair wage. The advantage of getting the cushions from Kenya is, apart from having a good story to tell and creating local employment, an extensive experience in creating a robust product, suitable for daily use.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are of course several similar products available. But we believe that we outperform all these competitors: Our product is stronger and of better quality than what is available on the market, against similar prices. Customers have the option to create their own design, which is offered by nobody else and the fair-trade concept, which was at the basis of starting the whole thing in the first place makes this initiative unique.
About You
Background Information
First Name


Last Name


The competition is only open to people between 18-34 years-old and resident in UK, Ireland, Sweden, Denmark or the Netherlands. Does this apply to you


Country of residence of entrepreneur

The Netherlands

Tell us about your personal background. Why are you passionate about this issue? Making an idea a reality takes innovation, dedication and strong leadership. Do you have the necessary entrepreneurial skills to realize your vision?

After my secondary education, I travelled to Kenya for 6 months and lived in a small village close to lake Victoria. The bicycle taxis operation in this region, called bodaboda's, immediatly drew my attention: a public transport system by just hopping on the carrier rack of a bicycle, why had nobody in the Europe tought of this! And on the rack there was usually a soft and colorful cushion, to make the ride comfortable.
The idea kept popping up in my mind, especially when I constructed a bicycle taxi back home in the Netherlands and got many curious and positive reactions. Together with a good friend I decided to give it a try: find local producers in Kenya and export the bike cushions to the Netherlands.
We would like to decorate the European streets with colorful bikes. But in addition to delevering a good and funny product, the fact that we are creating employment and stimulating business in Kenya is very important to us. And to us, the bike cushions is more than something to sit on. It shows that you care for you bicycle and cheerish this mode of transport. We believe, baring in mind GHG emissions that we should reduce and the threat of climate change, that more cycling is a good idea!
The combination of fair trade, sustainability and cheer give us endless energy to turn this idea into a succes.

About Your Organization
Organization Name

Organization Country

, UT, Utrecht

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NY, Kisumu

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The Model: Walk us through a specific example of how your solution makes a difference; include your primary activities

A potential customer is fed up with the bumpy bicycle rides, he finds our webshop were he can create a personal design or choose from a set of colorful standard design, the order is sent to the producers in Kenya and they make the cushion. Within three weeks after the placement of the order, the customer has his unique bike cushion. Problem solved!

Select the stage that best applies to your business

Operating for less than a year

Social Impact
What is the social impact you have had to date and how you measure it?

The manufacturers in Kenya are benefitting from the extra business. Finally and end-product that is exported from Africa! This special production chain creates the opportunity to not only offer our customers a great product but also raise awareness about different living standards in another part of the world and that we can really make a difference with the things we buy.

We can quantify the impact on the life of the producers by calculating the extra revenues they are making.
The impact in the Netherlands is harder to measure since the sales started recently. But all the positive reactions tell we are on the right track. Apart from the direct use of being able to transport an extra person when it comes in handy, our product intends to spread the idea that cycling is fun!

What barriers might hinder the success of your business? How do you plan to overcome them?

Guaranteeing a constant quality of the product. Because it is handmade, small variations occur, this has its charme, but should not lead to inferior products. By having good communication with the producers and a constant line of feedback, we believe that our product will keep improving!

How does your model address financial, social, and environmental sustainability?

Our product is already partly made from either recycled or natural, biologically degradable materials. We are continuously trying to improve the product. Of course it has to come a long way from Kenya, but it is very possible to do this by shipping, one the environmentally friendliest ways of transporting goods.

It is very likely people we continue to use their bicycles in the future, especially in the Netherlands. In fact, in a sustainable future, we expect the bike to play an increasingly important role in transporting ourselves. Of course we all love to have bikes that look cool, and that’s exactly what we are facilitating! So we believe there will be a contant or even growing demand for the cushions.

Social sustainability is achieved by investing in our producers. Already a know them very well, but training them and assuring that they are benefitting from the business is important to us.

Awareness & learning
How do you see social entrepreneurship contributing to the improvement of developing countries?

Taking charge of your own life, that is what development is about according to us. Not making people dependent on aid, but enabling them to help themselves. Social entrepreneurship does exactly that. We should realize that all people can add value to this world and that they should be rewarded in a fair way. Since we face the fact of a market driven global interaction, social entrepreneurship should be one of the key focus points in developing fair relations between people and countries, allowing each and everyone of them to prosper.

What aspects of your stay in Uganda as part of the competition do you think you will find most challenging and rewarding?

Most rewarding would be probably the contact with the people and the energy and cheerfulness I have experienced so often in East-Africa. Challenging as always would probably still be the confrontation with poverty up to the level where it inhibits basic needs of people. The inability to force change there and then, and the realisation that we cán do something but that it will always take time and only prevent future suffering, not present, I have always found hard to bear.