Washington-based Jacana is a relatively new international charity, specialising in development projects that benefit Sub-Saharan Africa. Jacana's Build A Better Bicycle (BABB) project now needs a US or European bike-building partner. The BABB bike will be built in Africa and any partner would be involved on a commercial basis, with the possibility of grant-aid and the probability of profits. The tough-as-boots machine could also be marketed outside of Africa.

US charity seeks manufacturing partner for African tough bike

"Although Jacana is involved in this project for charitable reasons, there is likely to be significant opportunity for profit from the first African manufacturing facility and from subsequent franchising ofthe business model to smaller related markets," said Matthew Bader, US regional representative of Jacana.

"We are looking for small- to medium-scale manufacturers who have excellent R&D capacity and the ability to work outside the lines of what they normally do."

Bader told BikeBiz.com he wasn’t targetting the bigger bicycle corporations:

"We are not however snubbing them either, we just need to find the flexibility that smaller partners often have."

The objective of the BABB project is to commercialise a bicycle designed specifically for use in demanding African conditions.

"The bicycle must be tough and utilitarian, field-strippable, and must make maximum use of available local materials," said Bader.

"Our business plan dictates that we must carry out an extensive market study in order to establish reliable sales statistics and product information before moving on to commercialisation. We are seeking partners from the UK and US bicycle and bicycle-component manufacturing sectors to become involved in the feasability and market study. These partners would come together with Jacana, another sustainable transport sector expert, and a bank to conduct this study over the next year.

"Ideally the partners will have real-world experience in producing bespoke and innovative bicycle products for a wide variety of markets and uses, and of course an interest in transport and development in Africa."

Any partner could apply for start-up funding for such a project.

"There are several funding sources available for this type of project. Some are UK-government, some are public sector business-development funds," said Bader.

"There are transport-specific funds to be drawn upon. They have totally different scopes and terms and conditions. I will be meeting with a UK-government representative next week to discuss some funding from their side; they tend to make extensive efforts to eliminate risk to private-sector partners during the feasability study exercise."

Previous Jacana projects have received EU, UK, Irish, US, and World Bank funding, said Bader.

"We also receive donations from private sources, corporations, and foundations."

This is Jacana’s first bike project. The Afribike organisation is one of the BABB partners, having previously worked on the African distribution of the California Bike, a Trek-supported tough bike.

Email: mbader@jacanaworld.org



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