The CooP-Bike: a cargo bike for Africa
23 JUL 2022
BLOG SERIES: COOP-AFRICA
Bikes and cargo bikes can play a key role in creating opportunities for entrepreneurs. That’s why, for the past 15 years, the Cycling out of Poverty Foundation (CooP-Africa) has been building and modifying various types of bicycles, serving rural and peri-urban communities in Kenya and Uganda.
This is the first in a series of blogs for the International Cargo Bike Festival in which CooP-Africa’s Luuk Eickmans introduces us to a variety of these life-changing bikes and cargo bikes, and how they are used.
Partners & Supporters of the ICBF
CooP-Africa is an NGO based in Kenya, Uganda, the Netherlands and Belgium. We believe a bike makes the difference, and our objective is to improve access (availability and accessibility) to bicycles and other mobility aids as a means to improve the livelihoods of African people.
Accessibility is one of the most important factors in development. In Sub-Saharan Africa, distance is a barrier to attend school, access health care, and find work and income. Simple interventions with bicycles can bridge the gap and make life-changing services accessible.
We don’t believe in one-bike-fits-all. That’s why we have built two Green Hub bicycle innovation and demonstration studios. One in Jinja, Uganda and one in Kisumu, Kenya. In these studios we modify bicycles, and design and build bicycle trailers, cargo bikes and other mobility aids such as wheelchairs and hand tricycles.
CooP’s first cargo bike
We love to work together with students and interns from technical institutes or volunteers with a technical background. Back in 2010 we developed our first cargo bike together with students from Technical University Delft in the Netherlands, who were studying International Entrepreneurship & Development. In Kisumu, Kenya the students designed and built the CooP-bike, a multipurpose vending bicycle. This bicycle was designed to support entrepreneurs and to encourage people to come up with their own ways of making a living with a bicycle.
Opportunities for bicycles in Kenya are limitless; street vending, cargo/delivery transport, bicycle taxi services, and eased movement of people to access education and health care. Bicycles can contribute to the achievement so many of the Sustainable Development Goals. But in 2010 the bicycle market in Kenya and Uganda was flooded with only poor-quality Chinese and Indian-made bicycles. These bicycles were missing the link with their end-users, who were left with no other options. This led to bicycles becoming unpopular; something for those who couldn’t afford a motorbike.
In response, our project developed a multi-purpose bicycle that:
- Is suitable for many different entrepreneurs
- Could carry up to 60kg and 80 litres of cargo, plus the rider
- Could be ridden on tarmac as well as on low quality unpaved roads
- Provided the user with a high-quality frame and low-maintenance parts
- Offered advertisement space for entrepreneurs
- Could be ridden comfortable for 50 km each day
- Could be locally built and repaired.
The result is this CooP-Bike. Twelve years on, the CooP-Bike is still one of the modified bicycles being produced at the Green Hub bicycle innovation and demonstration studios in Uganda and Kenya. It is used by health workers distributing drugs mosquito nets, water purifiers, and other water, sanitation and health products; street vendors selling various products; and delivery services carrying out last-mile deliveries.