Biket: When business has a deeper meaning

Education is the foundation of development. This fact has not been refuted once throughout the world’s history: from the Pharaonic civilization to the Mayan surreptitious culture, and from the British colonies to the American empire. The story replicates itself over and over again. Any civilization commences as a group of people who can barely feed themselves through primitive ways, and then through accumulative knowledge, they identify new ways to prosper and grow.

The Sub-Saharan African continent is no exception. Countries like Mali are still trapped back by its ignorance-evidenced by the relatively low literacy rates (only 26% literate) – from the rest of the civilized world. Despite the abundance of natural resources that these African countries hide beneath their grounds, they have failed to match developed countries like Japan which is bestowed a small area of non-arable land and some fish! The basic principles of economics are exemplified in this case: raw materials and land remain inanimate, non-valuable objects without the co-existence of labor and capital.

The Biket initiative was started by a group of westerners, whom like many others, where attracted to take part in the development of the deprived African continent, the only difference was that they didn’t feed the open mouths, they fed the curious brains. Realizing the low number of schools, and consequently their remoteness from the majority of the villages scattered across the country, they came up with the brilliant idea of providing children with a low-cost mean of transportation: a bike.

The founders believe, that by mitigating the factor of distance from the “going to school” equation, the students will be encouraged to pursue education, and the parents will welcome the new member of their family, which can also be used in obtaining water, transporting family members or carrying supplies. With more educated students, the supply of “skilled labor” will increase, so will their income, spurring more and more children to attend school and join the higher income segment. The benefit of this social dynamics is twofold: first the number of potential skilled labor in the pipeline will increase, shifting the economy on the long run from a mere raw-material export economy to an industrial one. The second is that with the rising demand on education, more bikes will be produced to fulfill the demand, which translates to more revenue available to Biket for other development projects like schools and hospitals construction. The business model has thus been perfectly positioned to allow for autonomous growth, capitalizing on the rising awareness of education’s importance.

The main funding for the Biket initiative is currently through donations. By providing only $ 108, you will: 1. Allow a family to own a well-built bike. 2. Contribute to the construction of bikes’ warehouses and repair shops. 3. Fund for maintenance workshops which teaches children how to repair their bikes as well as train interested citizens to assume bike repairing as their profession. With only the cost of a regular Starbucks breakfast ($ 9 a month), you can make it easier for a Malian child to cut an average 20 km distance to school… and rather than enjoying the fading taste of croissant, you will help a father to transport a bucket of water to his family.

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This entry was posted in BizDev, Design, Entrepreneurship, Innovation, Sustainable Development and tagged , , , , , , by Ahmed El-Khatib. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ahmed El-Khatib

I'm a graduate Materials Engineer from the German University in Cairo (GUC). I have aquired a work experience as a Systems Engineer in ABB, as well as a Key Accounts Manager in Pepsi Cola Arabia. I'm currently pursuing my M.Sc. in Business Development at Grenoble Graduate School of Business (GGSB). My research interests include -but not limited to- quantitative strategy, game theory, sustainable business models and financial engineering. I believe that one should not be one more head added to the 7 billion head count occupying this planet. One should stand out to help the remaining 6,999,999,999 in his/her own way. This is success. This is "Development".

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