Closer look at the BamGoo
One of the goals for SRI is to generate income to become a self-sustaining organization. SRI is a non-profit organization that still runs on money from funds and from personal donations of the chairman and board members. With the realization of the resource centre, there are a lot of new opportunities to generate income. Another goal of SRI is to create bamboo awareness in the area of Okana. Bamboo is a strong material with a lot of potential, and it can be used for a lot of different purposes. The inhabitants of Okana, and actually the people in the whole area, are not aware of this. Bamboo grows easily in the local climate, so it is a good sustainable option. The first step towards Bamboo awareness was to build the resource centre with a bamboo construction. The next step is to see if there are other opportunities for the use of bamboo. Building a bamboo bike frame for transport, the BamGoo, will be is one of these opportunities.
A product combining the two goals of generating income and creating bamboo awareness is the Bamgoo. The BamGoo is a bamboo construction that can be attached to a bike with clamps. It increases the transport capacity of a normal bike and that will increase the trading capacity. In Okana bikes are already used as a transport device, so it seems like an interesting place to implement the product. But some research needs to be done. A critical point is the costs of constructing the BamGoo. The area of Okana is a rural area, where people do not have much money to spend. For this client group it is important that the BamGoo is not expensive, else the product will not sell. This raises the question:
‘What is the best way to implement the BamGoo in a rural area, while keeping the costs of the product the lowest?’
In this article the research that has been done will be described. The general research about the BamGoo gives a good overview of the circumstances needed before the BamGoo can be implemented in a rural area like Okana. For SRI it is useful to get an overview of this, so that they can implement the BamGoo in the area, or at least know which circumstance has to be changed before the selling climate is right. To figure this out, market research has been done in the area of Okana. Next to that, prototypes have been built and developed to improve the product and to make an overview of the costs of assembling a BamGoo.
First a summary of the research about implementing the BamGoo in general will be described. After that, the market and technical research about the implementation in the area of Okana is explained. At last, a conclusion about implementing the BamGoo in Okana is given.
Criteria for BamGoo implementation
It is a possibility for SRI to implement the BamGoo. This means that they have to build the product, find a market and sell it. This could be one of the income generating factors to maintain the resource centre. Implementing the BamGoo can be divided in measurable
criteria to scale the potential of implementation with. It is important for SRI to make sure these criteria suffice before starting the BamGoo implementation. The criteria, and their measurement unit, are described in table 1.
The problem with building a strong and also cheap construction is represented in these criteria, because the costs of building the BamGoo and the quality of the BamGoo are included. There has to be made a trade-off between the costs and the quality, which will depend on the market where the BamGoo will be sold. Also important to include is the number of potential clients in the area. There need to be clients in the area, else it will be useless to build the BamGoo. The clients will make the BamGoo an income-generating product. The BamGoo should therefore correspond to the wishes of the clients.
An overview of the most important factors that are involved in the process of implementing the BamGoo is shown in table 2. Before implementing the BamGoo, a few external factors need to be checked. These external factors are the circumstances that influence the probability of success. If the circumstances are in good condition, the BamGoo can be implemented. If not all the circumstances are right, it will be a bit more difficult, but it will still be possible. There is also the possibility of influencing the circumstances, so they will become right for implementing the BamGoo. The circumstances and their ideal situation are mentioned in Table 2.
Table 2- External factors
In the next part research of the implementation of the BamGoo in the Okana region will be described. The stakeholders involved in this process will be mentioned, and the market research and technical research is explained. The analysis ends with a conclusion about the implementation of the BamGoo in the area of Okana.
It is important to take a look at all the different stakeholders and their preferences, so that SRI can take these preferences into account, or even better, respond to the preferences.
SRI is the problem owner, they want to build and sell the BamGoo for transporting goods with quality for carrying as much different and heavy goods as possible, but also with as lowest costs as possible. One of the most important stakeholders is the potential client of the BamGoo. The client will benefit from the approach of SRI, because the goal will be to get a strong BamGoo for a low price. That would be ideal for the client.
The workers of the carpentry workshop of SRI can learn how to build the BamGoo. This means that SRI can build and sell the product in the same place, which is beneficial for the efficiency of the product. When the building is done, the BamGoo can be sold immediately. The workers of the carpentry workshop are therefore important stakeholders as well. Their goal is to build the BamGoo when there are clients. It is important that the carpenters will learn how to build the BamGoo by watching instruction videos, by reading a manual and by practice. After the learning process, SRI has to monitor if the BamGoo is indeed built the best way they can. Then the BamGoo is ready to be marketed.
The designers of the BamGoo are also involved in this issue. When figuring out the best ways to build and sell the BamGoo, it is important to keep in contact with the designers. It is their product, and they have a lot of knowledge of the design, so they have to agree when the BamGoo needs some adjustment to make the product stronger or cheaper.
Market and technical research in the area of Okana
Market research in Okana
Concluding from various interviews taken in Okana, it seems like most people don’t have a bike. Most people either use motorbikes or matatus to transport their goods or they walk. Bikes are expensive compared to their income. Also, people seem to not have enough goods to transport to actually benefit from the extra space the BamGoo would offer. The full interviews can be found in Market Research
From observations in the Okana region, it seems that mostly hay is transported by bike. Bags would therefore not be beneficial, but an extra space at the front of the bike could be of use. As for materials, in Kisumu most hardware could be found. Rope, glue and bolts were purchased in one of the many hardware stores in the city centre. Various fabric samples were bought as well as different types of clamps. The small diameter bamboo was gathered from a farm in Yala, about a two-hour drive from Okana. Expenses can be found in table 3. After the arrival of the designer discussed the expenses and some alterations were made.
Table 3 - Cost overview BamGoo
Firstly it was decided that the design should be altered to fit the demand. The bags seemed unnecessary and would cost too much. To attach the frame to the bike scaffolding clamps were chosen as the best option of the available hardware. For the construction a combination of bolts, lashing rope and glue were chosen. In response to the martket research done, it was decided to focus on a different market then the villagers of Okana. Kisumu and its neighboring villages have bigger markets, which means they will have more goods to transport. Also their clientele is wealthier than the potential clients in Okana. A new, simplified design was made.
Phase I technical research: Improving the design for local use
As a replacement for the bags, it was decided to make two platforms, one in the front and one in the back. The platform would increase the loading space exponentially and the costs would stay relatively low. This prototype of the BamGoo has material costs of 2424 ksh . The platform in the front would be a bit smaller than the one in the back, to make turning easier in narrow streets. Another thing that was changed is the position of the main pole in comparison to the loading platforms. In the original design the pole was situated in the middle of the bamboo frame, but then the centre of gravity wasn’t in the centre of the bike, what could cause imbalance. For the design the measurements of the bike and the measurements of the frame were used as seen in Image 1.
Image 1 - Technical Drawing of BamGoo
Phase II technical research: Building the prototype
During the construction of the prototype the tools that were available in the carpentry workshop were used. First the clamps were adjusted to fit the new bike, which was bought for the project, because otherwise the brakes wouldn’t work when the clamps were
attached. Then the loading poles were tied to the main pole with rope. The connection was glued together with a special epoxy. Soon was discovered that the connections wasn’t strong enough, so another type of glue was bought and a bolt was put through the poles for extra firmness. Two types of bolts (6mm and 10mm) were bought to see which one works best. Besides glue we used a type of rope to lash the bamboo poles together for extra strength. We used a thick rope for the lashing, but it was a big hard to lash, because of the thickness. Still it was strong enough.
At last the frame was finished with pieces of split bamboo as side poles of the loading platform. The pieces have three holes in them, so they fit onto the framework. It was glued together with a mixture and sawdust, to fill the space between the two pieces of bamboo. After this it needed to dry for a day.
Phase III: Testing and presenting the prototype
On December 2nd, after the frame was completely dry, the prototype was tested. First the frame was mounted onto the bike. Rubber was added onto the clamps to protect the bamboo from damage. With a load of 10kg per platform the prototype was taken onto Okana road. Since this road is very bumpy, it was a crucial moment in the testing phase. The frame turned out to be working fine, so extra weight was added. 30kg was added to each platform and the bike went back on the road. The first thing that attracted attention was that the frame moved a bit inside the clamps. The frame itself didn’t endure any problems. The bike on the other hand was really struggling with the weight. This was the sign that we couldn’t add more weight, because there was a chance that the bike would break. The BamGoo has not only been designed for transporting more weight, but also for more types of items, so this needed to be tested as well. The furniture made in the
carpentry workshop needed to move to the resource centre and this was the ultimate opportunity to test the BamGoo. It went really well and a lot of furniture could be moved at once.
Meeting with the board
After finishing the first prototype of the BamGoo it was presented to the board of SRI. First the product and the concept was explained. This received a positive reaction. When the prototype was shown, some questions arose. They were wondering if the frame could maneuver trough narrow streets in the city. They thought it would maybe be better to make the front platform smaller and the back platform bigger. Another thing that they wondered about was if the bike would be comfortable to ride with the extra framework, because there is an extra pole between the legs. This question was quickly answered by testing the bike for them selves. After riding on it, they luckily decided it was comfortable enough. It might only be a problem for children. The potential market was not really discussed.
Image 2 - Board meeting
Phase IV: Building the second prototype
The construction of the second prototype started on December 6th. This prototype would be made with lighter bamboo and the design was going to be altered. The main pole was made a bit shorter than the one in the first prototype and the platform in the front was also made shorter. Instead of three poles there were now two. The platform at the back was made wider than in the first prototype. For the lashing of the joints a different type of rope was used, which was denser, but less thick. The length of rope per joint was kept the same. Since the bamboo was less strong the 10mm bolt was used to increase strength. For the side poles of the loading platform only glue was used, because the mixture of glue and sawdust wasn’t strong enough. The rest of the construction was done the same way and it also needed to dry for a day.
During the testing phase of the second prototype, it occurred that the lighter bamboo made it easier to ride the bike. The frame was tested the same way as the first prototype, and again the outcome was that the frame is stronger than the bike. Locking the turning points of the clamps with a cram of wood solved the movement in the clamps.
Market research in the Okana region
To get an opinion of the actual target group the prototype was taken into the neighboring markets of Rabuor and Ahero. The overall impression of moving the BamGoo and the bike around the market was that it was quite difficult to manage. The main road is good enough to bike along, but as soon as you get of this road and have to enter the market, it is a big hassle to maneuver the bike and the BamGoo. Crowded market spaces do not seem like an ideal place to use this product.
Image 3 - Marketresearch Ahero
Talking to the sellers behind the stands on means of transportation they currently use, various answers were given. People selling mainly vegetables, beans and corn seem to all be based in either Kisumu or Kisi. From there they transport their goods to the markets in Kericho, Rabuor, Ahero and other local markets via car or public transportation. This consists of small busses and motorbikes. Looking at the distance between these markets and the cities this could not be replaced by a bicycle. The distance they travel is in the least 10 kilometers, which would take up a big part of their day would they use a bike for transport. This is also the case for the sellers of fabrics and clothing. An interesting target group turned out to be the sellers of chickens. At both Rabuor and Ahero markets they seemed quite interested. The chickens only get transported over small distances. The common way to transport chickens now is to hang them by their legs on the bike. At the front part of the BamGoo this wouldn’t be possible. Since the frame doesn’t move with the front wheel the wheel would be obstructed by products hanging from the front part. If the BamGoo were to be used for this purpose, the design should therefore be altered.
Phase V: Developing a building guide
It is important to teach the workers of the carpentry workshop how to build the BamGoo, so the knowledge will be passed on. Because the staff members vary trough the years, it is
necessary to make a detailed building plan and an instruction video, so that everyone can learn how to build it. Pictures were made of every step and all the complicated handlings were filmed. A checklist has been made the workers need to check before they start building the frame, because every bike is different and has different measurements. Lastly a poster has been made to market the product in the resource centre. This will also contribute to bamboo awareness, because it shows how strong of a material bamboo is.
Implementing the BamGoo still seems like a good project to achieve two of the goals SRI has, namely creating bamboo awareness and generating income for the organization. But there are some difficulties with implementing the BamGoo in the area of Okana, with the current circumstances. A conclusion about implementing the BamGoo, as strong and cheap as possible, in the area of Okana is set up.
Three criteria for implementing the BamGoo are fundamental for the conclusion of implementation of the BamGoo in the Okana region. The criteria found in the general research about the BamGoo were: the number of potential clients, the capacity of the construction (this includes the carrying capacity and the loading surface) and the costs of the BamGoo (this includes the material costs and the labor costs). Based on these three criteria, conclusions were made for implementing the BamGoo in the area of Okana by means of the market and technical research as subscribed. Impacts of the circumstances in Okana on the criteria are also shown in table 3.
Table 3 - Cirteria impact Okana
The potential clients are a problem in the area of Okana. Because of the poor environment, lot of people do not even own a bike, so they are not interested in buying a BamGoo. And if people own a bike, most of the time the bike is not strong enough to hold all the weight that can be put on the BamGoo. Because there is no upscale neighbourhood in the Okana region, there are few potential clients for the BamGoo. The quality of the roads on the other hand is pretty good, so that circumstance will not be of trouble when implementing the BamGoo. Though, the distance the clients have to travel to reach the markets where they sell their products is most of the time too long. During the market research at Rabour and Ahero, the only potential clients found were the sellers of chicken. This could be an opportunity for the BamGoo.
The capacity of the construction depends on the size of goods clients want to transport with it and the state of the economy of the area. Okana is a poor region, and that is why the bikes they have are not strong enough to hold the weight of the loaded BamGoo. This decreases the strength of the total construction. Besides that, the clients that own a bike do not have a lot of money to spend on the BamGoo. The BamGoo therefore should be as cheap as possible, but that influences the capacity of the construction. The technical research shows that the complexity of the construction should be low, so the labour costs will be low and the BamGoo will be affordable for clients. The people who sell vegetables and fruits will therefore not be the right target to sell the BamGoo to. Again the sellers of chicken are an option, but the design of the BamGoo has to be adjusted for that.The costs of the BamGoo should, as mentioned before, be as low as possible because of the poor environment of the area. A positive effect on the costs is the high amount of hardware stores in the area. There are many stores close to Okana, which will lower the transportation costs and also gives the opportunity to choose between different types and prices of material. An exception is the acquiring of bamboo, because bamboo farms are far away from Okana, and there aren’t many. This means that bamboo is currently expensive to get. An option to decrease the costs for bamboo is for SRI to start bamboo farming them selves, but that will be a long-term plan. The size and complexity of the BamGoo also influence the total costs of the BamGoo. Because of the poor environment around Okana, the costs of the BamGoo should be as low as possible, so the construction has to be simple.
In conclusion, a trade-off has been made between the quality of the BamGoo and the costs of the BamGoo. Because of the poor environment of Okana, a simple prototype has been chosen. Not complex, but big, so it had a lot of space to load goods. Even this prototype is probably too expensive for the potential clients here, it currently costs 2424 ksh. Besides that, there are not many potential clients in the area to sell the
BamGoo to. One option that should be explored is to make a BamGoo for the sellers of chickens; this is a target group that may be able to use the BamGoo. To make the BamGoo less expensive, it is also an option for SRI to start bamboo farming, which could also benefit other projects with bamboo, but this is a long-term plan. The biggest problem will still be that Okana is a poor region. Another option can be to build the BamGoo at SRI, but sell it in a richer area. This should be further explored.
The BamGoo is a great product, but the prototype that is made is still too expensive to sell in the area of Okana. Besides that, in this area there are not enough potential clients to really make the BamGoo work. In conclusion, Okana may be not the best area as a target for selling the BamGoo, but the BamGoo will ‘goo’ on.