In 2007, two Americans and two Zambians, motivated by the lack of rural transportation in Zambia, came together to found a bicycle company. They started off small, filling a container of bicycles purchased in the US and selling them in Zambia.

Three years later and they have a well-known name, Zambikes, a busy workshop, and an ever-increasing line of products.

Zambikes sources their bicycle parts from manufacturers in Asia and assembles them at their production center in Lusaka West. They focus on quality, building a robust mountain bike that may be more expensive than its imported Chinese rivals on the market but can out-last them any day, especially on Zambia’s rough terrain.

They also build a longer, load-bearing bicycle that can carry over 200kg of cargo for those in the transport business. Recently, they started producing bamboo frame bicycles locally.

In addition to bicycles, the company makes two trailers: the Zamcart, also used for transporting goods, and the Zambulance, for transporting patients to rural health clinics. All materials for their trailers are found locally.

Zambikes has quickly made a name for itself as the highest-quality bicycle producer in Zambia, attracting business from many of the major NGOs and non-profits working in the country. They also sell directly to individuals, who can pay in installments if they need to in order to purchase the bicycle. They still rely mostly on business from large development organizations, but that is changing over time.

The best part of the company, though, is the people. The staff started off as a local football (soccer) team, and they still retain that camaraderie (and play games every week). The two American founders are preparing for the company to be run entirely by Zambians in the next year and a half, and they have many good hands to leave it in. Then hopefully they will move somewhere else to repeat the whole process.

Advertisements