Descripción: The Seed
In September 2014, the seed for Cochabamba Pedal Project was planted when several Sustainable Bolivia volunteers partnered with two local NGOs, Fundacion SODIS and CECAM Bolivia, to construct a pedal-powered soap mixer. This bicimaquina (bike machine) was built in order to support a local school in Tiquipaya, Bolivia that was making soap.
The hand-mixed bars of soap that the school children were making (nicknamed "El Grillito" or "The Cricket') were primarily being made for the school's own use, but the children had bigger aspirations.
They wanted their soap making to become a micro-business, where they could sell their soap in local markets to community members in order to raise money for their school.
But, the hand-mixed bars of soap were not adequate for selling. Creating soap worthy of selling, required smoother and softer soap. The school needed soap making machinery to improve the quality of their product and to increase their efficiency.
With this knowledge in hand, the Sustainable Bolivia volunteers tried to come up with an appropriate solution to help the school's cause.
An Idea Comes to Fruition
After researching, a blueprint for a pedal-powered soap mixer was found in a scholarly engineering journal. The author, Dr. K.R. Ajao, an engineering professor from Nigeria, was contacted and he excitedly shared his plans with the Sustainable Bolivia team.
This appeared to be the appropriate solution and after getting the go-ahead from the school's principal the volunteers went to work.
There was no way they could do it alone, however. Thankfully, Freddy and Rosio of CECAM Bolivia contributed their expertise. The sourcing of raw materials and the construction of this bicimaquina would never have gotten off the ground without their tireless effort.
Three weeks (and a lot of sanding, cutting, welding, painting, and dog snuggling) later, the completed pedal-powered soap mixer was delivered to the school. A school assembly, complete with soap making, and a lesson on how to better merchandise the soap was held.
Several months later, Freddy and Rosio contacted the volunteers, who were now back in their home countries, with news that a second pedal-powered soap mixer had been built! Needless to say, the volunteers were thrilled.
Could utilizing simple pedal-powered devices, like the soap mixer, be a sustainable and economically viable solution to the difficulties that many Bolivians face on a daily basis?
Freddy and Rosio think so!
The Birth of Cochabamba Pedal Project
Freddy and Rosio are the heart and soul of Cochabamba Pedal Project. The goals they have for this project include:
- Creating a sustainable social enterprise by refurbishing and selling bikes to community members to utilize as a great alternative form of transportation. The nearly year-round Spring weather in Cochabamba is very conducive to biking as a primary method of transportation.
- Utilizing the funds created by the bike sales to construct bicimaquinas for sale or donation.
Freddy and Rosio have already started devising new ways to implement the pedal-powered machines--from pedal-powered clothes washers and water pumps to bike operated corn shellers and smoothie makers. The possibilities are truly endless regarding this simple, yet effective technology.