On this day, exactly 2 years ago, I was leaving my job to go to Indonesia to support some communities I knew nothing about.
On the 14th of March of 2016, I landed in Indonesia with the mission of helping these communities to find a business model around all the Bamboo they had been planting for more than 7 years, taking advantage of the skills that they already had.
Despite their amusing skills and all the bamboo they had cheaply available, my first impressions were not any good after our first research.
This showed a market saturated with extremely cheap bamboo products that were being sold both online and in local markets.
If we wanted to build a sustainable social business that could benefit the peoples of Desa Ban, we needed to come up with high value-added products with high margins.
Competing in price was not an option for two reasons; first, we wanted high wages for the workers, and second, the isolated locations of these villages involved very expensive logistic costs.
We did not have a clear idea of what these high-value products might be. Ketut, the bamboo team leader was obsessed with the idea of making bamboo bikes.
He had seen them years earlier and he was sure his team would be able to manufacture them.
It was his dream!
Not doubting their skills, I was sceptical about the idea, at least thinking short term, to be honest.
I wanted to start with simpler stuff, that we could brand and sell as “responsible products”, such as bamboo speakers.
In any case, we needed money for some basic machinery to manufacture those products, and we decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign to finance these machines and a small workshop.
The crowdfunding was a success.
We got not only the money but also the interest of an Indonesian Philanthropist that would donate a couple of extra machines and who would take our team to be trained in how to build bamboo bikes!
In September 2016, I moved back to Spain before the workshop was fully completed and while the team was being trained.
To my surprise, the first bikes were tested in early 2017.
Today, after selling more than 40 bikes and overcoming the eruption of Mt. Agung, that displaced thousands of people from these villages, they are officially launching East Bali Bamboo Bikes.
Before my departure:
And after my departure:
More news: www.eastbalibamboobikes.com/blog