Here the first news from Okana! After a couple of days in Nairobi we have arrived in the rural village Okana. In the middle of Okana road the SRI compound is established, a NGO founded by Jowi. On this compound the Pavilions of the project ‘Pavilions for Okana’ are being placed. Even though it was Saturday when we arrived, a lot of people were still working hard. The three Pavilions have already been completely build and all the electric wiring is sorted. Now all that needs to be done is the painting en decorating before the Pavilions are ready for use.
For our minor project we have gotten the task to figure out a way to make these Pavilions financially self-sustaining. This will be done by the cybercafé, the library and various products attached to the centre. One of these products is the BamGoo bike, on which we will focus during these S4S updates.
Besides the Pavilions the compound exist of a carpentry workshop and the, for African measures, very luxurious guesthouse we are staying at. In the carpentry workshop the furniture for the centre currently is being build, besides that they get various local customers. In the first week, besides getting used to the ‘African Lifestyle’ complete with the heath and working ethic, we mainly focused on helping out with making the furniture. Also we have made plan for the next couple of months since Sara and Serena, the two designers of the BamGoo bike, are coming to Okana by the end of this month.
These first weeks in Okana were mainly for research. We went into the village to ask the villagers about how they transport their goods. Also we looked into how many people actually own a bike. We did this to make an overview of how this concept of the bike will work in this area. Besides this we started to gather the right materials. Most of the materials needed for the BamGoo have also been used in building the Pavilions, which has made this task a lot easier. We gathered some fabric an clamp samples. In real African style this all took a lot longer than expected and us being the foreigners we get send to a lot of different places, but all that just adds to the experience.
The first prototype has already been build. It hasn’t completely followed the design of the girls, but to make it more tangible for the villagers and to do some more extensive research we decided to build something with the materials laying around. Our plan is now to actually take this prototype into the village and see if the villagers see the potential and would actually buy this product.
Kisumu itself is a very busy and bustling city only twenty minutes outside of Okana. During one of our first trips, cramming ourselves into a small van with at least 20 other people, we already noticed there are a lot more bikes in use. After asking around a bit we figured out that these bikes are mainly used like a taxi. For a bit of money the rider will transport people with their goods to various places in the city. For the BamGoo this is definitely an opportunity to look into.
For the upcoming weeks we are mainly waiting for the two designers to arrive. We are really looking forward to starting this project with them and seeing the firs BamGoo bike in real life!
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