Innovator driving solutions
African News Agency
TANZANIAN Bernard Kiwia is a resourceful man. He started off fixing bicycles and became well known locally as being able to sort out anything that might happen to a bike. Then he started wondering what else he could do. In 2007, he attended the International Development Design Summit in the US where he was inspired by Guatemalan inventor Carlos Marroquin who invented a device for shelling mielies, powered by bicycle gears. Kiwia began thinking about how to help rural people in his country by solving problems using locally available materials. As Global Shakers, a publishing platform that tells the stories of amazing innovators, points out, the approach tends to be pretty green. Kiwia said: “When people are in the village, they want to have the same life as people living in the cities.” But villages are often off the grid, which makes activities like charging a cellphone, running a washing machine or heating water difficult. But not for Kiwia. He has developed a cellphone charger powered by a bike; a solar-powered hot water system using old fluorescent tubes; a fruit-juice blender and a windmill-operated washing machine (he built the machine too). If the wind isn’t blowing, he can pump water from his borehole using a stationary bike. Of the blender, he says: “In the city, you can buy juice in any hotel or restaurant. But in the village, people can’t make juice because there is no electricity. Fruits come from the village, but in the village, they have fruits that they can’t finish in a season. So, the rest of the fruits they throw away.” No longer, thanks to the fact they can make juice and sell it to the cities. He’s also working on an idea to use a bike to make a machine that plants seeds. Global Shakers says Kiwia’s innovations ensure energy independence and help start new businesses. Kiwia co-founded Twende Social Innovation, which identifies local needs and engineers new solutions. He also runs a creative capacity-building workshop.