Improving village life through qualitative, affordable technology: this is what Global Cycle Solutions (GCS) does.
The Tanzania-based social enterprise turns bicycles into devices that help to solve everyday problems in villages and even serve as income-generating tools.
According to the idea of appropriate technology, the social enterprise focuses on understanding people’s needs. Therefore the team visits communities in order to assess their specific challenges. On the basis of this research GCS either provides the community with an existing tool which suits their situation or they develop a new product – fostering innovative and creative thinking among the communities too. The idea behind GCS products is to use ordinary bicycles, provide them with different add-ons thereby transforming the two-wheelers into innovate and useful objects.
http://www.empowering-people-award.siemens-stiftung.org/blog/projects/global-cycle-solutions/attachment/dsc00891/Need an example? Farmers lacking tools for basic agricultural tasks benefit from the GCS maize sheller kit. By attaching the machine to their bikes, farmers are able to shell maize karnels from the cob forty times faster than doing the labour by hand. The great advantage of the GCS sheller lies in its lightweight and adaptive construction. It can be easily transported from field to field and re-attached to any bike. In this way, one single machine can have great impact on a whole community allowing farmers to increase their efficiency and giving other members the opportunity to start their own business. Another useful add-on is the Kiwia Phone Charger that allows phone charging whilst riding the bike. Similar to a dynamo, it is easy to install. Not even a wall outlet can offer a faster charging process!
Jodie Wu, a former student at the MIT, is the face behind the social enterprise. As a member of the well known MIT D-Lab that develops affordable technologies for the develping world, she discovered her interest in innovative and appropriate technology. Working with community members on the ground, Jodie soon discovered that the key factor in tackling basic supply problems is empowerment. And the GCS concept is all about empowerment: the team does not only empower villagers by providing them with technological solutions, but also has a focus on the youth giving them opportunities to become GCS entrepreneurs and multipliers in their own communities. In 2011 Jodie was named to Forbes' 30 Under 30 in the category science. We are intrigued as to what they will come up with in the future!
- Food & Agriculture
- Food & Agriculture