Basic Utility Vehicles for Rural Transportation

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Bike Across Africa for BUV

Imagine riding a bike from Indianapolis to Los Angeles on unpaved roads. That's 2,000 miles on dirt roads with pot holes, rocks, bumps.
That's just part of the trip Mike Lantz will take, as he spends the first four months of the year riding through Africa on a titanium cyclo-cross bicycle with hand-picked parts. He'll ride from Cairo, Egypt to Cape Town, South Africa as part of the Tour d'Afrique bicycle race/tour. Mike is making this tour to help raise awareness for the BUV and our current crowdfunding campaign. Ultimately, Mike wants to draw attention to the BUV and how it's helping to change lives in rural parts of Africa and Latin America.
Mike Lantz sitting on a BUV the day before he leaves for his Tour d'Afrique trip
It's approximately 7,000 miles. 5,000 miles of that trip is on paved roads, while the other 2,000 miles is not paved (which is roughly the distance from Indianapolis to Los Angeles).
The trip departs from the Pyramids in Giza, and they'll follow the Nile river to Khartoum. From there, they'll head to Ethiopia, spend a day or two at Addis Ababa, before heading to Nairobi, Kenya. In the process, they'll ride up the Nile Gorge Mountain, a steep 20 kilometer (12 miles) climb. The elevation is 8,200 feet. From there, they'll pass through to Arusha to visit our BUV Tanzania micro-factory.
After Tanzania, they'll cross into Zambia, make their way down to Victoria Falls where they'll spend a few days. From there, it's over to Botswana, Namibia, then crossing the Kalahari Desert, and they'll finally arrive in Cape Town.
To keep up with Mike and his ride, follow him on Instagram, and keep an eye on our Facebook page.

How Paulo Changed His Life with a BUV

Our friend, Paulo from Tanzania, said that before he became a BUV owner, he was very poor and would stay with friends just to have a place to sleep. But with his BUV, he's got a good job that pays him enough to take care of himself and his family.

When they first met, Scott Price, a missionary and founder of BUV Tanzania, asked Paulo if he would like to learn to drive a BUV and start his own transportation business. Paulo jumped at the chance. The average salary for a Tanzanian man can be as little as $45 per month for a laborer, so this was a way Paulo could start a business and earn more money than before.

Paulo driving his BUV in TanzaniaPaulo has a daily driving route, where he uses his BUV to deliver goods, water, and other services. He charges a small fee to his customers, which helps him not only pay for the fuel, but it lets him earn a very good salary.

For example, to deliver six large bags of beans 15 kilometers (9 miles), Paulo receives 20,000 Shillings, or $11.60. (The Tanzanian currency is called the Shilling, or TZS. There are approximately 1,724 TZS to $1 US). For a 7 km trip, he receives 10,000 TZS ($5.50).

Now Paulo says that he can pay his own rent, as well as can buy things for himself and his family.

"I bought a radio and a mattress," he told me when I visited the BUV Tanzania factory in April 2014. Paulo also bought land for his father, and helped pay for the materials to build a house for him as well. And, of course, Paulo delivered the materials himself.

Paulo says his main competition are the ox carts in his village, although he sometimes wins business from the tractors and Toyos as well. Paulo says his advantage over the ox carts is that the oxen will sometimes get injured going downhill, and the Toyos can't travel where the roads are rough. He says that often he and his BUV are the only ones that can make deliveries, so he gets hired first.

"The Toyos do not go out as far as I can," said Paulo, "but the pay is better farther out."

Although the BUV is a workhorse, Paulo often raises his prices after it rains, because it's harder going. The BUV can still make it, it's just harder to drive through the mud. To the BUV's credit, and Paulo's driving ability, he says he has never gotten stuck or rolled his machine. You certainly can't say that for the Toyos.

The BUV is proving to be a big hit in his village as well. Not only do people often ask him about it, he even helped convert Dumas, a Toyo driver, into becoming a BUV owner. Now the two are in friendly competition with each other in their village, and are finding there's still plenty of work to go around for both of them.

You can help entrepreneurs like Paulo change their own lives, as well as the lives of the people in their village, by supporting our Indiegogo campaign. We want to buy enough components for our BUV Tanzania factory to build 50 BUVs in 2015.


BUV at Conner Prairie's Festival of Machines

We'll be at Conner Prairie's Festival of Machines this weekend (September 13 & 14, from 10 am to 5 pm), helping celebrate Indiana's contributions to the world of machinery. From race cars and jeeps, tractors and planes, we'll be with fans, engineers, restoration nuts, and gear heads.

Conner Prairie will have the following on display:

  • collector's showcase of rare vintage automobiles including a 1914 Stutz Bearcat and a 1974 Ferrari 246 GT Coupe.
  • Meet and greet with IndyCar driver Pippa Mann; rides in a Dallara IndyCar Factory 2 Seater ($20/limited availability).
  • Kids in motion: Pedal car and soapbox derby courses, engine tinkering, science experiments, hayrides, Radio Disney I-STEM Quiz Show, and much more.
  • Huge display of vintage fire engines, tractors, airplanes, boats and helicopters.

There will be a kids' activity tent with all kinds of things to build and try, as well as food trucks.

You can find out more about Festival of Machines and view the complete schedule of events here.

Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for kids ages 2 – 12, and members and children under 2 are free.


Why We Do What We Do

Everything we do here at the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) in creating the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) we do for one reason: to provide hope.

We do is about providing hope; so the poor and isolated in Africa and beyond can live better lives. By providing for people, we help those in need but also ourselves and our faith in God. By providing hope for the poor and isolated, we can help them rise out of poverty, educate their children, and live comfortably and without danger.

We do this by creating rural transportation that's durable, simple and pays for itselfA lack of usable roads is often a major cause of this poverty. People can't get to medical care, deliver their food to the markets, or have aid delivered to them.

So we design and help others manufacture Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs). This lets our partners and local entrepreneurs create their own way of life and provide for themselves and their community.

That is why we do what we do, and it's how we do it.

Wooden Bed vs. Steel Bed

One of the main concerns we had in desiging and building the BUVs is maintenance. We have mentioned before that the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) is extremely durable with brakes and is simple with having a three input system (go, stop, and steer) but what about repairs?

Our overriding vision with the BUV is to build vehicles that are simple and durable. So in the even that something breaks, even the repairs themselves have to be simple.

For one thing, we wanted the BUV to have a bed that could be easily replaced. Since 2007, the BUVs built here in the United States have had wooden beds. Yes, it does receive a lot of wear and tear, but wood is also easy to find, easy to source, and easy to install. If a BUV driver lives in an area with all the materials around them, it's easy to replace.

This does not mean that some sites don't use a metal bed. BUV Tanzania uses metal beds in their design because the material is also easy to come by in their area, and there is a press brake in town.

When deciding the best way to build BUVs, we have to look at the things that are easier for the owners, not just easier for use. We design our units for what the owners will have to face if and when they repair their units. For countries in Africa where they have easy access to wood, then wood can be a good choice. For other countries, steel is the preferred material. It comes down to the owner or manufacturer as to which material is used in the BUV. 


"Just Far" Becomes "Just Near"

Here in North America, it is not hard for us to find wheeled transportation to go about our regular days, whether it be a bike, public transportation, or our own vehicles to get to where we need to go. We think of distances in terms of minutes and hours, not hours and days.

But in the rural areas of Africa, distances are measured in miles and many hours. Better yet, just think of it as "far." If you can't walk to it in less than an hour, it's "far."

We received a letter from a missionary partner in Malawi and there was a quote that struck us:

In our country our people have to walk everywhere they go. Hence, every place is 'just far.' But, when Americans come here they travel around the country in cars. That is very easy so we say the distance is now 'just near.' Therefore no matter how far you must go in Malawi, if you have a motorized vehicle 'just far' turns into 'just near.'

This is our goal for our BUVs. We want to turn far into near. We want to make it easier for people to more easily travel to different parts of their country, to get the necessary items they need, and helping people get from 'far' to 'near' faster.

BUV Durability

I’m not an engineer but my thought is that truck brakes on a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) will last a really long time. After all, the BUV is 1/3 the weight of a truck and goes about 1⁄4 of the average speed. It would seem that the BUV’s truck brakes would last ten times as long as a BUV in Africa than they do on a pickup truck in the USA. 

Here’s my rough math I tried out: 

BUV brake load = 1/3 pickup weight x 1⁄4 average speed of pickups x applied 1⁄2 as often = 1/12 the load of the brakes on a first world pick up.

I asked the Director Will Austin how often he has to send out brake drums or brake hardware kits to BUVs in the developing world. He responded “never”. The oldest units now have 9 years of service in the field.

BUV Ambulance

Imagine you have to get to the hospital. It’s about ten miles down a dirt road and your options of getting there is a wheel barrel pushed by someone or a bike with you sandwiched between two people. It’s difficult and you are very uncomfortable, or unconscious and very unstable. There is the option of a horse, but those are few and far between and an ox cart is extremely slow to pull so there is a chance you won’t make it to the hospital alive.

The Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) makes the trip to the hospital easier. Since the BUV is built to go over rough terrain, the drive there doesn’t take long. The vehicle also has 60” leaf springs, so the extra suspension makes the ride much more comfortable. Most Chinese 3-wheelers have very stiff springs which are half the length. Also, the BUV has a truck bed, so the injured person can “lie down” and remain as comfortable as possible on the trip to the hospital. 

The BUV is able to save lives while in the rural areas of Africa


One thing about the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) is its simple structure. With three wheels, a truck bed, and a steel frame, the BUV can conquer many rural roads across Africa.
But why three wheels? Why not four like on an ATV or a truck?
It also allows for constant contact with the ground with virtually no frame twisting. By having one fork on the front end, the drivers can easily change any tire.
The three wheels also creates a more stable base. When an ATV gets into an accident, there is a tendency for the ATV to follow you. That is, if you flip the back-end of the ATV will follow. This is why there are many ATV injuries – the ATV often lands on top of the driver.
A motorcycle, on the other hand, will shoot away from you in the event of an accident, such as a slide. You can still be injured in the accident but it’s not usually caused by the bike itself.
The BUV has significant mass to help protect the driver in slow speed accidents. However, the driver also has the option to jump clear of the vehicle if he or she decides to, making the simple design helpful in the rural areas of Africa.


A Life Transformed

Meet Issah, a BUV driver. In Ghana, Issah owns a farm where he raises yams and cassavas – a type of root that looks similar to a potato. He has a girlfriend, but not enough money to pay her dowry and marry her. 
Issah was selected by Pastor Samuel Mensah to be one of the BUV drivers.
The results have been amazing. He has established regular customers and routes, hauling sand, gravel, and water with his BUV. They pay him for his deliveries, because it saves them time and energy, which allows them to focus on other work at home, like tending to their own families or doing other paid work.
Issah now hires three to four people to work at his farm during the planting season. He is earning income, investing in his farm, planning to marry his girlfriend, and he committed his life to Christ. 
Who applies to be a driver of a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV)? Most applicants are from local ministries or churches who aren’t the most fortunate financially. What we have found is that these drivers have good values, they are dependable, hardworking, and trustworthy. Issah was selected by Pastor Mensah because he exhibited those qualities. And with all the hard work he’s done with his BUV, he’s helping his community grow and prosper.


The BUVs Financial Sustainability

One of the interesting features the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) offers to individuals is the vehicle’s ability to pay for itself. 
For many owners, they are in a rent-to-own payment plan. They make a down payment and then pay for the vehicle as they earn money with it. 
A couple of the sites, including the new BUV Tanzania Factory, require that the funding comes from local sources so all the funds go back to the community. They typically do not allow outside fundraising. Missionaries may receive funding from any source.
A typical down payment for a BUV is $500-1000 USD. The owner can then start generating an income, having no problem making a $200 USD/month payment. With these payments, most BUVs are paid off within two years and create a large sum for the owner with a positive ripple effect to the community.


Did You Know? Shipping BUV Parts Overseas

There are many Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs) working around the world in places like Tanzania and Honduras, where work is being done and people are bettering their lives because of it. But how did the vehicles get over there?

The Institute of Affordable Transportation (IAT) partners with missionaries and churches to ship the BUVs overseas through ocean containers when there is extra storage space available.

But what about smaller replacement parts?

Those are sometimes shipped over in suitcases with people traveling to the local area.

When the IAT has missionaries traveling to the areas where BUV parts are needed, they send parts or even 50 pound suitcases with the travelers because suitcases are less likely to be stolen or delayed in customs. Sometimes it's hard to get parts to some of the areas when security and transportation isn’t the best. By having suitcases, items are less likely to be stolen or inspected by customs officials who might expect a bribe or decide to levy a higher-than-necessary tariff against the shipped parts.

If you have any old suitcases you would like to donate or know anyone who does, suitcases can be dropped off at our factory at 4930 Emco Dr., Indianapolis 46220 (on the NE side of Indy near 65th Street and Binford Blvd). Since the Institute for Affordable Transportation is a 501(c)(3), donations are tax deductible, so we can provide you with a receipt for your generous donation.

Update on the Tanzania BUV micro-factory

One of the goals of the Institute for Affordable Transportation is to produce more BUVs (basic utility vehicles) in the geographic region where they're going to be used. It saves on shipping costs and delays.

To that end, we've been working with our partners in Tanzania to create a micro-factory, where they will build and ship BUVs throughout east Africa.

A micro-factory is an independently-owned business that produces and sells BUVs for profit. Local parts are used as much as possible to create the BUVs on site so the local people may purchase a vehicle for their own businesses at a lower cost than they can buy them from us.

This will enable local people to prosper with a unique business because it gives people access to jobs, education, and markets.

The factory itself plans to produce 100 BUV units per year, or two units every week. This will generate a sales revenue of almost half a million US dollars that includes component sales, service, and extensions.

The investment will create 2,000+ jobs over ten years — including drivers, assistants and mechanics. In all, 100,000 people can be helped over a lifetime with this small investment.

IAT has a specific role in helping these micro-factories start and grow. With the Technology Transfer Program (TTP), we provide a package of information that includes:

·      assembly and fabrication videos;

·      technical drawings;

·      equipment requirements;

·      quality and inspection procedures;

·      marketing materials; plus, any other necessary information.

The Tanzania factory has only just begun to produce their BUVs, all of which are already sold. This shows the need for these vehicles is great. It can only mean great things ahead in the future for these micro-factories, and we're glad to be a part of it.

Our mission is to help provide hope to the poor and isolated in developing nations to live better and more prosperous lives by creating simple, durable transportation. This new micro-factory will go a long way in helping us realize our mission, and we are very proud of our Tanzanian partners.


What I Saw in Belize

Imagine riding in a truck with jarring suspension over a potholed road that makes several of your fellow travelers sick just to ride on. Now imagine living on the other end of that spine jolting road, several miles away from the nearest town.

I got to visit that little area, riding in that truck on that road, during a recent research trip to Belize.

I recently returned from the University of Indianapolis-sponsored trip to the little Central American country, where we got to see different parts of it, traveling from the north to the south. The northern part of the country is flat and touristy since Belize City it the tourist capital of the country.

Most of the area is developed and the roads aren’t bad.

It wasn’t until we entered the southern Cayo District that I noticed something. We entered a small village called San Antonio, a.k.a. Little Texas, nestled away in the mountains to visit a women’s group where we learned how to make traditional Mayan food and pottery.

Most of my classmates got sick on the way over and back from the women’s group because the only way in and out of the town was a pothole-ridden dirt road.

Most of the women were at the center after leaving a domestic abuse shelter, learning to make this red clay pottery to sell at the market, as a way to create a stable lives for themselves and their children.

The only way to get the pottery to the market is to take it via the dirt road. It’s an hour to get to

San Ignacio from San Antonio and the only means of transportation is a Toyota Land Rover. The suspension on a Land Rover isn’t the best for taking pottery down to the market. It isn’t the best for people either — it’s what we rode in and why so many people got sick.

As a result, many pots and larger vases break during the trip and the group cannot make the money they need to keep the group going and support the women.

On our return trip and we all loaded up with our own pottery, I thought about the work I've been doing with the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV), and what a difference it would make here. With its truck bed and good suspension, the pottery would make it down to the town more easily, and more pieces would be intact. The vehicle is relatively inexpensive and it is easy to repair and drive, which makes it ideal for the village and the women's group.

It was interesting to see another country and actually see a place where the BUV would be helpful.

As an American, I never thought I would actually see an area where something like the BUV would be needed, and it was a humbling experience to see just how good we have it.


IAT Student Competition Seeks to Create Perfect BUV Design

Every year the Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) hosts a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) competition amongst Midwestern colleges and universities. We started the competition back in 2000, when the IAT was founded, as a way to perfect the BUV design. We were crowdsourcing before there was even a word for "crowdsourcing."

The way the competition works is that student teams design and build different BUVs to compete in a series of tests and events to determine the best design for the year. Many of the student builders are engineering students completing their capstone projects at the end of their college careers. This is a way for them to apply everything they've learned into improving on an already improved design. Because the BUV is used in a variety of locales without any infrastructure, the test vehicles must navigate a variety of different terrains, including an obstacle course, mud pit, mogul field, and an endurance track.

The race track the competitors race on is 2.1 miles (mi) and each design has to carry three 55 gallon water jugs across the course. Every third lap the water jugs must be emptied in a nearby pond and loaded up with water again so a pumping mechanism is also involved in the competition.

Our most recent competition winner for 2014 was the University of Cincinnati Bearcats club team with Alfred State College (a.k.a. State University of New York) in second and Purdue University’s Cameroon Pup team finishing in third.

We would like to thank all of the teams who participated in the event and would like to invite all schools interested to come to the 15th Annual BUV Competition April 17-18, 2015 in Batavia, Ohio. Click here for more information


How the BUV Supports Environmental Sustainability

A major concern for many businesses and individuals today is how to be environmentally friendly, and to create sustainable products and sustainable practices. The Institute for Affordable Transportation (IAT) has found ways to be environmentally sustainable with its Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) by reusing the back end of recovered pickup trucks, and choosing items that are easy and cheap to replace.

We re-use the back ends of pickups because reusing materials is more efficient than recycling as the materials don’t need to be reprocessed before it is used again.

Compared to a regular pickup, the BUV has many advantages. It gets approximately 50 miles per gallon (mpg) compared to the 25 mpg of a regular truck. It also is biodiesel-ready when most pick-up trucks are not.

Using a biodiesel engine helps the BUV create less waste. Biodiesel is made from renewable resources and has lower emissions into the atmosphere compared to a regular pickup truck. The BUV also uses 75% less fuel in off-road conditions by having a biodiesel engine which is important. Many areas where BUVs are used have no official roads, only paths.

The big question is whether biodiesel works in Africa. In the areas the BUV is located, the African countries have access to the jatropha plant. These plants have more than four times as much fuel compared to the soybean plant when turned into oil, making it a great source for biodiesel.

As a result, the IAT is able to encourage environmentally sustainable practices, by helping create a need for local biodiesel manufacturing and supply, rather than shipping in gas and oil from other parts of the world.


Horsepower vs. Torque for the BUV

When talking about engines and power, we're often asked about the difference between horsepower and torque. What do they do, and what do they have to offer in terms of an engine?

The best way to describe think about it is that torque is what throws you back in the seat when you step on the accelerator, and horsepower is what keeps you pinned there.

For the Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) that travels over unfinished roads it needs more torque to push the vehicle through the rough roads in Africa, where most vehicles are located, with brute force. Torque is the power that gets you up steep hills, over large rocks, and through big holes in the road. Horsepower keeps you moving down the road, but torque is what powers you over the obstacles.

The BUV has both the torque and the horsepower to make it over the rough roads in Africa and makes it an affordable and efficient vehicle. We've found the right combination of the two to make this a useful means of transportation over any terrain.


The Entrepreneurs Vehicle

 In the last blog, I mentioned that one of the ways BUVs were helpful in Cameroon was by providing men with good, paying jobs.  One of the other helpful attributes of the BUV is that the BUV allows families to haul more crops to the market.  The market in Cameroon only happens on Tuesdays and Saturdays.  The market in Haiti, around the Port-au-Prince area where I was in May of 2010, happens on a similar week day and then on Saturday.  These are the only two days that farmers/entrepreneurs can sell their crops or goods.  Therefore not only does the BUV provide more jobs in the community, it also helps farmers/sellers get their crops to the market on the only two days a week that they can sell their goods.  In fact, around 40% of the goods grown are lost from not being able to sell them due to the lack of means of transportation.  As mentioned before, most people do not want to take a taxi to the market because that essentially takes away some money from the small amount of money they will earn that day. 

One of the biggest hassles for our team was traveling, not because of the lack of transportation but because of the severity of the unpaved roads and the distance between everything.  The big market near the village that we lived in is in Bangang, which was about an hour away by foot with very little on your back.  Therefore it is somewhat unrealistic to just bring some of the goods to the market and yet it is also unrealistic to bring everything.  A seller never wants to run out but they also never want to have to carry a bunch of their own goods home along with any other purchases they made; it is all about a balance.  While how much to bring is a guessing game every week, it could become less of a hit-or-miss experience with the help of the BUV.  Not only could several farmers bring their goods to the market all at one time, they could also always go back for more if they run out; whereas now people will just pack up when they run out.  This could drastically change how much money some families are surviving on, allowing kids to get a good education and stay in school.


Purdue's Cameroon Trip 2011

As a member of the Purdue BUV team, I was able to go to Cameroon in May.  We had spent the past year designing a new BUV that we then took to Cameroon.  We spent 3 weeks building our design from scratch and seeing how it would impacts lives there.  There were about 12 of us on the team including the Professor.  One of the most noticeable culture differences was the fact that it was the women that worked all day not the men, even though it is a male-dominated culture.  We were in a small rural farming town, and quickly found out that harvesting and working in the fields is considered to be women's work.  Therefore in that specific town, the women would work in the fields all day and carry all of the crops to the market on the market days.  Because this is considered women and children's work but driving is considered men's work, the women walk to the market.  Very rarely did the women take a cab because their families have so little money to begin with.  

Since pretty much all of the work in the area is considered to be women's work, there are a lot of men that do not contribute to the families income at all.  Therefore one of the ways that the BUV can be helpful in a community like this one, is that it would put the men to work.  The men would be able to come alongside the women to help contribute money to their family by driving the BUV and would therefore not be spending all day at the bar.  This is just one of the many ways that a BUV can change the lives of entire villages with very little impact by outside countries or even outside villages.


The IAT summer intern

Melissa Cole


Maternal mortality, Africa, and transport

According to multiple surveys, newspaper articles, and books, maternal mortality in Africa hinders economic and societal development in many countries. Let’s look at what the World Bank says in its recent report on the issue. 

There’s a relationship between mobility, power and well being. The differences between male and female travel patterns and the cultural rules and roles associated with these differences are under charted in the policy environment. The impact of constrained mobility on bargaining also has its impact on what comes to be available as resource and service within local constraints. And as a conclusion, the authors of the report suggest several solutions for the challenge: 

-         Specific transport and maternal mortality projects (safe motherhood transport plans – Malawi, transport within safe motherhood unions - Zegoua, Mali, targeted approaches which integrate transport - Senegal and Mali, using the existing fleet of vehicles: the yellow flag initiative in West Africa);

-         Mobile maternal health clinics;

-         Roadside wellness centers: the intersection of health needs, and so on. 


Global health issues, Africa, and basic transportation

Is there any connection between global health challenges and basic transportation? Just imagine: in a remote village somewhere in Central Africa a child is dying of malaria, but the nearest hospital is hundreds of miles away and the villagers have only a narrow dirt road connecting them to the outer world… Who can address this challenge?

Several people from my professional network told me about an amazing organization which takes to heart all the pain and difficulties associated with the global health challenges in the developing world – VIGH (The Vanderbilt Institute for Global Health). VIGH is in the position to connect knowledge, skill and education globally, infusing communities around the world with greater ability to restore and improve the lives of their people.


Basic Transportation and Community Access in Africa

People in this world have many challenges in their lives, especially if a community where they reside in does not have a good road infrastructure. Personally I applaud the African Community Access Programme (AFCAP) for its strong desire to address this “infrastructure challenge” in the developing world. AFCAP is designed to address the challenge of providing reliable access for poor communities. Funded by the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and managed by Crown Agents, AFCAP provides advice and undertakes research to deliver safe and sustainable access to rural communities. 

Take a moment and visit the AFCAP’s web site. You’ll be really amazed by the scope of the projects: 

-        Ethiopia - the new Low Volume Roads Design Manual was launched at the Road Sector Development. 

-        Mozambique - several research sections have now been constructed in different parts of the country. They include mainly graded natural aggregate seals on natural gravel bases.  

-        Malawi - the study of design standards for low volume sealed roads is close to completion.

-        Kenya - the training inputs for the labour-based construction of emulsion stabilized base and cold premix surfacing on a road in Central Province is likely to continue in March/April with finding from the Roads 2000 programme.      

-         Tanzania - the construction of the research/demonstration site near Bagomoyo is continuing, with sealing works expected to commence in May. 

Quite impressive? Imagine if one can help AFCAP complete these projects by providing a reliable vehicle to facilitate the delivery of human resources and construction materials from local villages and small towns to the project sites. I think that a Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV) is a perfect “work tool” for AFCAP and Crown Agents. I do hope that AFCAP sees a huge potential in partnering with IAT in Africa.  


A Question Posed by the World Bank

"Can better roads reduce poverty?" This question is the title of an entry on Africa Can, a World Bank blog. The article goes on to point out that despite terrible road conditions in parts of Africa, road and market connectivity can be maintained. Though roads may be impassable to cars, motorcycles are often used and have less trouble navigating rough terrain. Therefore, according to the article, building better roads may not necessarily have a significant impact on economic development, since connections already exist. 

Connections may exist, but by-and-large they are not efficient connections. Impoverished communities should not wait or rely on government action as an immediate solution to rural infrastructure problems--many governments in Africa lack the capital or coordination and are marked by severe corruption. However, instead of focusing on infrastructure development (an expensive, complex and time consuming task), a transportation solution can be offered. As mentioned in the World Bank article, motorcycles are more efficient at navigating poor road conditions but cannot carry heavier loads or many passengers. The BUV addresses the deficiencies in both the infrastructure and poor transport options. In its simplest form, a BUV can carry payloads up to 1200lbs, several passengers, and overcome difficult terrain.

That is not to say roads should be ignored. A proper infrastructure is particularly necessary for heavier loads that are needed around urban centers and ports. Such improvements could increase the economic prosperity of a country as a whole. Nevertheless, communities in rural areas can greatly benefit from a better transportation option now. Can better transport reduce poverty?


Malawi, Africa: Basic Utility Vehicles Used for Maize Transport

According to this report from the Malawi Project, Inc., basic transportation is very helpful in harvesting maize and decreasing malnutrition levels. Agriculture is the backbone of Malawi. It is a land locked country centrally positioned on the surface of the African continent. It has a population of 13.5 million people. While a stretch of the population near the lake shore depends on cassava as its main food, and the rest of the nation has varied amounts of potatoes, millet, sorghum, and other fruits, the main food commodity is maize (corn).

In recent weeks the harvest has started. Malawians are in the process of bringing in their harvest of maize. Unlike previous years, when the transportation of grain was a challenge, this year thanks to the Malawi Project and its timely and valuable donation of the Basic Utility Vehicle, the grain is being easily moved from field to warehouse. What a wonderful example of how we can help transform lives of working poor in the developing world through basic transportation!


Transportation in Landlocked Developing Countries: Kazakhstan

According to this article at the United Nations’ website, lack of territorial access to the sea, remoteness and isolation from world markets and high transit costs continue to impose serious constraints on the overall socio-economic development of landlocked developing countries. Their sea borne trade unavoidably depends on transit through other countries. Additional border crossings and long distance from the market substantially increase the total expenses for the transport services. Landlocked developing countries are generally among the poorest of the developing countries, with the weakest growth rates, and are typically heavily dependent on a very limited number of commodities for their export earnings. Moreover, of 30 landlocked developing countries 16 are classified as least developed.

In my opinion, even with poor road infrastructure and remoteness from the sea such developing countries as Kazakhstan can significantly improve the life of working poor by providing an affordable basic vehicle. The terrain of this Central Asian country is a perfect fit for a Basic Utility Vehicle - vast flat steppe extending from the Volga in the west to the Altai Mountains in the east and from the plains of western Siberia in the north to oases and deserts of Central Asia in the south. Kazakhstan possesses enormous fossil fuel reserves and plentiful supplies of other minerals and metals. It also has a large agricultural sector featuring livestock and grain. BUVs can be used in many agricultural applications and are suitable for mining. I look forward to working with local entrepreneurs and helping build BUV based businesses in Kazakhstan!


Food Assistance in the Transition from Recovery to Sustainable Development in Liberia, West Africa

Take a look at this picture… Can we provide a better future for this young man in Liberia, West Africa? Five years after a destructive 14-year war, formidable challenges still hinder Liberia’s drive to recovery. Poverty is pervasive while food insecurity and malnutrition are widespread…

But there is HOPE. According to this article from the World Food Programme, International community has such a strong desire to contribute to Liberia’s ongoing transition recovery by rebuilding rural livelihoods, reducing malnutrition, and strengthening national capacities to reduce hunger. One suggestion would be to think about affordable, reliable transportation for working poor. This young man with a wheelbarrow could drive a Basic Utility Vehicle. Not only he can help his household, but also he will be able to support his community. A BUV can haul produce, construction materials, can serve as an ambulance as well as help kids from remote places get to a local school. More BUVs can truly transform not only one community, but also the nation of Liberia as a whole. Just a thought…


Disability, Poverty, and Transport

Can a disabled person be a valuable and productive member of a society, especially if he/she is born in the developing world? Some may say “No way – there is no basic infrastructure there!” yet I dare say “Yes, there is an interesting solution.” While reading some articles and executive reports at Disability Knowledge and Research, I’ve been thinking on how a person’s life could be transformed if a reliable yet affordable transportation solution existed… 

Interestingly enough, a few Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs) were re-designed for such people. One good example would be a vehicle for a polio survivor. Take a look at the picture to the left. This is a handicapped man from Kenya, East Africa who started building his new life using a BUV. Instead of being a “burden” to his community, he became an entrepreneur who aside from helping others with physical needs is telling people about his dignity and self-esteem. His smiling face says: “I CAN work!” Do you see how a basic transportation can transform lives of people and communities in the developing world?


New CREATIVE ways to end poverty: One Day’s Wages

Internet and globalization break all the barriers and create such an interesting field for worldwide cooperation. Many have heard about Opportunity International, Hope International, or While surfing the net, I’ve found an interesting online community which actually helps poor worldwide.


One Day’s Wages (ODW) is an international grassroots movement dedicated to ending extreme global poverty. ODW promotes awareness, invites giving, and supports sustainable relief through partnerships, especially with smaller organizations in developing regions. Its vision is to change global issues of injustice affecting millions of people, regardless of race, culture, sex, age, or religion. ODW inspires people around the world to simply donate one day's wages and to renew that pledge monthly, quarterly or yearly on their birthdays to the cause of ending extreme global poverty. Very interesting! This is such a creative way of reminding many of us how blessed we are. By sharing with poor, we can dramatically impact another person’s life.


So, I thought we could empower so many poor worldwide just by providing an opportunity for online community like ODW or to sponsor a BUV to help transform communities and lives of poor worldwide. I consider this to be quite a creative way of breaking the cycle of poverty… Don’t you agree?


Public Transportation Hinders Outreach in India

Recently I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to be a missionary in a developing country. For example, let's look at India, a vast Asian country with many remote and densely populated cities and villages, whose road infrastructure and public transportation are very poor. According to this article from Christian Aid Mission, Jeeps are especially useful because they can travel over rough roads, carrying necessary equipment and supplies for a mission work. “To cover such a large geographical area with systematic sowing, we need a jeep for travel – from one city to another and within the cities themselves… Besides passengers, it can carry a good amount of literature and other ministry materials on top."

As an alternative to SUVs, Basic Utility Vehicles may be very useful for outreach in India as they are specifically designed for a rough terrain and 1,200 pound payload. And BUVs are very basic and do not need as much fuel and maintenance as any SUV definitely requires. Just a thought…


Sustainable Development in Africa, Biodiesel, and Basic Transportation

Have you ever heard about Sustainable Development Africa? It provides wind, biomass, waste management including biodiesel feasibility studies and environmental audits. It sets up, manages, and supports projects in Clean Development (CDM) especially for developing countries. Under Sustainable Development Projects, this organization helps establish Biodiesel refineries throughout Africa. 


Basic Utility Vehicles (BUVs) are biodiesel ready! Biodiesel is a clean burning alternative fuel to petroleum diesel, and is produced from natural, renewable, agricultural resources such as soybeans or recycled cooking oil.  Biodiesel is simple to use, biodegradable, nontoxic, and essentially free of sulfur and aromatics.

BUV Biodiesel Facts:

  • The biodiesel engine in the BUV uses less fuel than the gas engine.
  • The BUV uses approximately ¼ of the fuel of a pick-up in off-road conditions.
  • The biodiesel BUV gets over 50 mpg (the gas engine gets 30+ mpg)
  • The advantage for these developing countries and could lead to the creation of more jobs ground pressure of a BUV is less than HALF of a standard pick-up truck.
  • The BUV is friendly to both the right and left side drive.

Sustainable Farm Practices Improve Third World Food Production

Recently I’ve been thinking about world hunger and sustainable farming. ScienceDaily reports that crop yields on farms in developing countries that used sustainable agriculture rose nearly 80 percent in four years, according to a study scheduled for publication in the Feb. 15 issue of the American Chemical Society journal Environmental Science & Technology. The study, the largest of its kind to date -- 286 farm projects in 57 countries -- concludes that sustainable agriculture protects the environment in these countries while substantially improving the lives of farmers who adopt the resource-conserving practices.


Also, a reliable, affordable transportation like Basic Utility Vehicle can make a difference. Aside from helping local farmers with sustainable agriculture practices, such as conservation tillage and integrated pest control, also reduced pesticide use and increased carbon sequestration, BUV can significantly ease the delivery of fresh produce to the marketplace. In addition, sustainable farming practices require less water, an important factor given that predictions suggest by 2025 most developing countries will face physical or economic water shortages.


Concerns about agriculture-focused aid in the developing world. What about basic transportation?

Have you heard about GiveWell  - an independent, nonprofit charity evaluator? It finds outstanding charities and publishes the full details of the analysis to help donors decide where to give. Unlike existing evaluators, which focus solely on financials, assessing administrative or fundraising costs, GiveWell focuses on how well programs actually work – i.e., their effects on the people they serve.

GiveWell writes that based on the information on the specifics of agriculture programs which comes almost entirely from World Bank's self-evaluations many agriculture projects, especially in Africa have some potential concerns.

 - This cause is not a matter of getting proven programs to those who can't afford them. Past programs have failed to increase farmer incomes.

      - GiveWell have not found a charity in this area that it can confidently recommend.

      - Based on what GiveWell knows, it recommends health programs as a superior way to help improve low-income people's lives.

What about basic transportation mode and BUV? We have some interesting experience in the developing countries like Ghana or Haiti where BUVs are extensively used not only for farming, but for providing various medical and health care services – from helping a doctor get to a remote “off-highway” / “off-road” village to getting medical supplies to a hospital or medical center. Basic transportation can bring both “agricultural” transformation to a community and can improve people’s lives through health care programs in the developing countries. Just a thought…


UN, global freshwater resources, and quality of life in the developing countries

While surfing the Net, I’ve found some shocking statistics in terms of global freshwater resources, sanitation, and quality of life at the UN-Water’s web site. Take a read!

The UN suggests that each person needs 20-50 litres of safe freshwater a day to ensure their basic needs for drinking, cooking and cleaning.
Source: World Water Assessment Programme (WWAP)

More than one in six people worldwide - 894 million - don't have access to this amount of safe freshwater.
Source: World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) Joint Monitoring Programme on Water Supply and Sanitation (JMP)

Globally, diarrhoea is the leading cause of illness and death, and 88 per cent of diarrhoeal deaths are due to a lack of access to sanitation facilities, together with inadequate availability of water for hygiene and unsafe drinking water.
Source: JMP

Today 2.5 billion people, including almost one billion children, live without even basic sanitation. Every 20 seconds, a child dies as a result of poor sanitation. That's 1.5 million preventable deaths each year.
Source: Water Supply and Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC)


Empowering women: How affordable transportation can improve lives of women in the developing world

Can women drive a BUV? BUVs have many different features that make them suitable for women in the developing world.  They are affordable, safe, durable, have a low center of gravity, and excellent driver visibility. They are also designed with a comfortable seat, that unlike common transportation options such as motorcycles or bicycles, is easy for women to access and ride in with long skirts and dresses. 

 We are aware of the cultural factors that could prevent the BUV from becoming an easily accessible mode of transportation for women in the developing world.  In many cases, women are expected to provide food and water for their families, but their duties, rights, and responsibilities are severely limited beyond those daily tasks. The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) refers to the lack of transportation options for women as a form of “time poverty”.   In developing communities, women are unable to focus on their personal health and education due to the amount of time it takes to perform daily tasks.


Pakistan and basic transportation: any utility vehicles?

While reading some online articles about Pakistan, I’ve found a vehicle which is the product of a joint venture between Jinan Qingqi of China and Suzuki of Japan. It is more of a motorcycle than a scooter. More powerful and less costly. By the time Pakistani ingenuity has its way with the machine, it transforms itself into a six-seater auto-rickshaw-like-thing that is called Qingqi by most people, rather than a rickshaw (and you can always squeeze more, because ‘dil baRRa hoona chahiaye’).


These are found in large and small cities across Pakistan now, but have become particularly prevalent in small towns and secondary cities. The reason for its runaway success is that you do not need to find as many passengers as you do for a ‘wagon’ or a ‘Suzuki dabba‘ but you can charge by the individual passenger rather than for the full ride (as you would for a Taxi or a Rickshaw ride). But what about significant payload? Can this type of vehicle haul water, produce, or construction materials? I doubt… I truly believe that there is a big market for BUVs in Pakistan, yet we should not discard Qingqi as our potential competitor. Just a thought…


Bill Clinton at the World Economic Forum in Davos: Haiti needs cash, trucks

Something very encouraging is happing in the world today. People align to help Haiti – no matter how hard or sacrificial it can be. Former President Bill Clinton called for more help for earthquake-ravaged Haiti, telling the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland that the country is determined to escape its troubled past.

"This is an opportunity to reimagine the future for the Haitian people, to build what they want to become, not rebuild what they used to be," Clinton, a U.N. special envoy to Haiti, told this influential gathering of business and political leaders at the Swiss resort of Davos. Citing a litany of woes — a lack of food, water, even trucks to distribute what aid has arrived — he called for "cash more than anything else." But if anyone had some pickup trucks, Clinton said he could use those too. "I need 100 yesterday," Clinton said. The forum is appealing to its wealthy corporate members to pitch in aid but even more importantly, invest for the long term in Haiti.

Long term development means to invest into infrastructure development projects and into job creation. Any country – even without devastation like earthquake – is destined to poverty if it has bad roads and lacks basic, reliable yet affordable mode of transportation. I am sure that we can make a difference! Institute for Affordable Transportation invested 10 years into developing a BUV which can help Haiti in many ways – from medical services and water purification projects, to construction and goods delivery. Can YOU help us re-build Haiti and turn a troubled past into a future blessing?


Water purification and basic transportation in developing countries

While thinking about widespread devastation like one in Haiti, I clearly see that one of the biggest challenges Haitians face is unavailability of clear water. Thousands or maybe even millions of people need clear drinking water every day… In April 2009 I visited a Christian non-profit organization in South Carolina – Water Missions International (WMI). What a wonderful solution WMI has for this water challenge!

The Living Water™ Treatment System (LWTS™) is essentially a miniature water treatment plant.  Like many municipal treatment facilities in developed countries, this unit relies on filtration and chemical disinfection for production of safe drinking water. LWTS even can run on energy generated by a solar panel on top of it… For a country like Haiti this is a wonderful thing. Also, I’ve been dreaming about putting LWTS on our BUV so that one could drive almost anywhere and reach the most remote communities in countries like Haiti. That would be so wonderful!


Haiti earthquake, disaster relief, and basic transportation

Haiti… Terrible earthquake… Nobody can be indifferent to the large scale devastation of this country. A disaster of such a magnitude brings so many thoughts on how all the relief agencies can improve their performance and outreach in Haiti. The biggest challenge any disaster brings is access to medical help, water, food, fuel, and urgent supply of equipment. What about transportation? If roads are destroyed or severely damaged, regular vehicles will not be very helpful and efficient… Unfortunately! So I am thinking how we can share wisdom we have at Institute for Affordable Transportation about basic transportation and poor (damaged) infrastructure. We do believe that Haiti relief agencies will benefit from BUV both short- and long-term.


One Tribe - Overland Missions Conference

The BUV Ministry exhibited with a display and a BUV at the One Tribe year-end conference at Bethel World Outreach Center on December 29th until mid-night on December 31st.  What a way to bring in the new year!  Click HERE to learn more about Overland Missions that is:  “Committed to every tribe, tongue, and nation in the uttermost parts of the earth to bring the gospel, humanitarian care and economic opportunities, to save and empower lives.”  Many came by to see the BUV and gain more information about how we aim to accomplish our mission as we work with our Partners (participating organizations like Overland Missions).  We discussed how they could use the BUV as a light tractor with their SAM Projects (Sustainability Through Agriculture and Micro-Enterprises) which is a mechanism to train, educate and implement sustainability to rural villages with gardens with drip irrigation and tree planting projects.  The BUV could be utilized with their LIFE Projects ( Living in Family Environments) which is their response to the HIV/AIDS pandemic, malaria and other diseases.  The potential of seeing the BUVs utilized in several countries is great if Overland Missions chooses to use BUVs with their Sectors in their long-term initiative to carry the gospel to neglected regions of the earth to reach those who exist outside the access of governments and the Church.  We sold the display BUV to Bethel World Outreach Center for a church building mission trip to Jamaica in March.  The BUV Ministry is seeking similar opportunities to exhibit in this way in 2010.   

Agriculture: Africa's 'engine for growth' and small-scale farmers

While surfing the net, I’ve found an interesting resource about agriculture in Africa. United Nations (UN) web site cross-references this article from Africa Recovery, Vol.17 #4 (January 2004), page 13. After decades of economic stagnation and with the number of chronically malnourished people now reaching 200 million, Africa's leaders are intensifying efforts to find “sustainable solutions” to hunger and poverty. The article elaborates on building on local successes, describes why African continent is in crisis, suggests how farmers can boost yields, and mentions that roads and appropriate technology play such a critical role in community development. Please take a read and think how technology available in the USA and Europe like BUV may help Africa grow. 


Business as Mission (BAM) in West Africa: Guinea-Bissau and cashew nuts

While surfing the net for interesting business projects in developing countries, I’ve found a reference to the Business as Mission team at JAARS (Jungle Aviation and Radio Service) and how excited these people are about opportunities in Guinea-Bissau.


Aside from a micro-finance program and agricultural development programs, JAARS people are considering a processing plant for cashew nuts—a cash crop in the country. Cashew nuts grow attached to a pear-like fruit that is often discarded. That fruit is a possible source of ethanol, a biodiesel fuel needed for boats. These businesses will provide employment and additional income to pay center employees’ salaries.


No doubt that for any agricultural program and especially a plant for cashew nuts, local entrepreneurs will face a transportation challenge: how to bring cashew crops to a facility and then deliver these nuts to a market place. A low cost, effective utility vehicle like BUV may help meet these needs. Also, BUV utilization will create additional source of revenue as these vehicles may be used for delivering goods and construction materials for local communities. As JAARS’ web site says, “Through building economic sustainability in the community, the Church will also gain relevance in the eyes of people, drawing more people to Christ in the process.” Very true!


Utility vehicles: how do different UVs measure up?

Cross an ATV with a golf cart and you come up with the hottest 4-wheel vehicle trend in the farm market today. Utility vehicles (UVs) mix the comfort of a cushy golf cart with the power of an ATV. UV buyers like the comfort of sliding into a seat instead of slinging a leg over the top, as with an ATV.


But how do these UVs perform? For the Farm Industry News ATV Rodeo, held August 21 and 22 in Le Sueur, MN, eight manufacturers brought their latest models of UVs for the 10 test drivers to try. The drivers put the UVs through an informal evaluation, driving them on the ATV course when time allowed. They offered comments about each vehicle's comfort, handling, power and maintenance. Overall, the drivers were surprised by the lack of speed and power of many of the UVs. Unfortunately, most UVs are designed that way. UVs not exceeding 25 hp and 25 mph are classified as non-road vehicles and are exempt from emission standards. Only the Polaris Ranger exceeds those specifications.

What about Basic Utility Vehicle (BUV)? So far, it has not been marketed in the USA. I think that with all its specifications, efficiency, VERY reasonable price tag, and payload of 1,200 lbs it can be one of the best UVs available for North American market. Just a thought…


Ambulance in developing countries: how many women’s lives can we SAVE?

According to United Nations (UN) News Center, over 500,000 women die unnecessarily every year due to complications from pregnancy and childbirth, with 99 per cent of those deaths occurring in developing countries, according to a new report released on September 19, 2008 by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “Progress for Children: a report card on maternal mortality” shows that the worst regions in which to give birth are sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, which together account for 84 per cent of maternal deaths.

UNICEF emphasized that most maternal deaths are avoidable. But poor road conditions and long distances to hospitals or medical centers do prevent pregnant women from receiving professional medical help on time. Is there a good and affordable solution to the challenge? Luckily, there is one. BUV is a vehicle designed for the rural geography of developing countries. It is a simple, low-cost, low- weight vehicle that is easy to operate, maintain, and repair. I have no doubt that many lives of women and their children can be saved by simply helping them get to a hospital on time. Also, in comparison to bicycle or motorcycle ambulances, BUV can be used not only as ambulance, but able to serve the vital needs of a community such as transporting construction materials, hauling food and water.

“Saving mothers’ lives is not only a moral imperative, but a sound investment that benefits their children, their families, their communities and their countries,” said Tessa Wardlaw, UNICEF’s Chief of Statistics and Monitoring.


Agriculture and green revolution in Africa: opportunities and challenges

The Rockefeller Foundation published an article on the African-led Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) which  is a dynamic partnership working across the continent to help millions of small-scale farmers and their families lift themselves out of poverty and hunger.


Africa has the singular and tragic distinction of being the only place in the world where overall food security and livelihoods are deteriorating. Over the last 15 years, the number of Africans living below the poverty line ($1/day) has increased by 50 percent, and it is estimated that one-third of the continent’s population suffers from hunger. In the past five years alone, the number of underweight children in Africa has risen by about 12 percent. A root cause of this entrenched and deepening poverty is the fact that millions of small-scale farmers—the majority of them women working farms smaller than one hectare—cannot grow and sell enough food to sustain their families, their communities, or their countries.


World hunger, West Africa, and local farmers’ land

Is outside investors always a good thing in Africa? According to a recent article at Mali has approved long-term leases for outside investors to help develop more than 160,000 hectares of land, but local farmers say they fear being squeezed out by large-scale agro businesses.

The government argues the country cannot develop its agricultural potential without foreign investment. But local farmers say that they will no longer have land to cultivate and will be forced to work for industrial agriculture producers. One of the governmental concerns is that to modernize agriculture they cannot give a tractor to a small producer who would use it on two or three hectares; that would be a waste. By the way, one of the possible solutions may be an affordable, easy to maintain and operate utility vehicle like BUV. Such a vehicle can support small scale farmers allowing local communities not to worry about utilization of expensive and not so effective large scale agricultural equipment. Just a thought…


BUV Goes to SEMA Show in Las Vegas

BUV Ministry had the privilege of being the only public charity to exhibit at the premier automotive trade event in the world -- the 2009 SEMA Show in Las Vegas. Ron Lively and Board Member Mike Pratt promoted the BUV as a "vehicle for transformation" to thousands of attendees and secured several new suppliers who donated parts which will lower our cost of production.  Both worked with international representatives and sold two units for an orphanage in Kenya.  One post-convention development are some possible BUV projects in the Congo.

Ambulance and women dying during pregnancy in Sudan: is there a better solution?

Many NGOs and international aid agencies like the UN children's fund (Unicef) sooner or later realize that one of the biggest hurdles in promoting health care in remote areas of Africa is the absence of an ambulance. Also, even if there is an ambulance, poor road conditions prevent medical personnel from reaching many cities and villages in Africa. BBC News website reports that in Sudan a woman has a one-in-six chance of dying during pregnancy during the course of her lifetime, according to the United Nations. What is the solution? Unicef suggests having a motorbike ambulance. The sidecar bed has padded cushions and powerful suspension to cope with Sudan's rough roads. The patient can lie flat, with seat belts to strap them in, but there is also space for a health worker to support the woman too, if needed. What is the cost? The price tag is $7,500 (£4,100). It’s a good start to cut down the numbers of women dying. Yet I think that a simple, low-cost, low-weight vehicle that is easy to operate, maintain, and repair – like a BUV – is a better solution long-term. With a price tag of $5,000 to $6,500 depending on options and designed for rugged terrain, BUVs are able to not only transport the sick, but also serve other vital needs of a community such as hauling food, water, and construction materials. BUV might be a better and cheaper long-term ambulance solution for Africa… Just a thought…


Empower entrepreneurs, build businesses, and transform lives in developing countries

TechnoServe is an interesting NGO which helps entrepreneurial men and women in poor areas of the developing world to build businesses that create income, opportunity and economic growth for their families, their communities and their countries. TechnoServe's entrepreneurship development and training programs help enterprising men and women develop the skills and resources they need to launch or expand businesses, while fostering a broader culture of entrepreneurship. Interestingly enough, TechnoServe in Mozambique had developed and tested a model for biodiesel production from coconut oil. Also, they are investigating the feasibility of using jatropha (a plant that grows well on marginal land that is unsuitable for food production) and other feedstocks for biofuels production and are currently running a jatropha pilot program in Guatemala. Biodiesel will fuel not only a low-cost utility vehicle like BUV and other transport, but also will create new industry and multiple employment opportunities for local poor.



Village Level Transport by John Howe

Good paper reviewing village level transport in Africa.  Studies indicated that village pedestrian based transport activities could take up a huge proportion of the active working day. Women particularly had to shoulder the main burden of village life; it was common to find many women spending over two hours per day collecting water firewood and travelling to and from the grinding mill.

Quadruple bottom line and microenterprise development in developing countries

AID for TRADE - The Christian Microenterprise Network from the United Kingdom links missions, charity agencies, churches and individuals supporting the vision to help income generation in developing countries. I’d say this resource will be a wonderful destination for Business as Mission minded entrepreneurs both in developed and developing worlds. If one would like to start his or her own income generating enterprise or wants to try and help others do this, then this web site will be very helpful. AID for TRADE supports the principles of equal opportunities, fair trade, organic food production, environmental technology, high integrity, health and safety at work. Also, AID for TRADE recommends quadruple bottom line (profit, community welfare, environmental protection, and spiritual awareness). A low-cost transportation will be very helpful to boost productivity for many income generating projects listed on this web site.


Women's farming in Africa, donkey power, and low-cost utility vehicle

It is well known that women in developing countries and especially in Africa provide for their families and communities. Many women are actively involved in farming. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), a specialized agency of the United Nations, recently published an interesting report saying that women farmers in Africa need more donkeys to be more productive. But in this case almost every household will need a donkey. A low-cost utility vehicle may be a better solution due to its almost unlimited ability to serve local community and many households 24 hours a day.


Improving Rural Mobility - Options for Developing Motorized and Nonmotorized Transport in Rural Area

Improving Rural Mobility discusses options for creating an enabling environment to allow efficient and profitable rural transport and increased mobility for disadvantaged groups.

Community development projects in rural Africa and basic transportation

It’s so overwhelming to see how many physical and spiritual needs people have in local communities throughout urban and rural Africa. A friend of mine told me recently about African Leadership - a Christian education and development organization that trains pastors and church leaders in Africa and funds relief and development projects in their communities. Developmental project partners drill fresh water wells, build orphanage facilities and schools, operate job training centers and medical facilities, and organize youth sports programs. A basic low cost vehicle designed for rural Africa will be so helpful to speed up completion of the projects as well as to train local Christian youth valuable and marketable business and technical skills.

Local Transport Solutions - Lessons from IMT by Paul Starkey

A great paper presented by Paul Starkey to examine (i) factors accounting for the observed low use of intermediate means of transport in Sub-Saharan Africa compared with the rest of the world, especially Asia and (ii) to evolve strategies for addressing identified shortcomings

Transport for Development - World Bank Business Strategy

Great quote from the foreword of the World Bank Group's Transport for Development - "We know, for instance, that an estimated 75 percent of maternal deaths could be prevented through timely access to childbirth-related care, facilitated by transport."

Wasted Time - The Price of Poor Access by Geoff Edmonds

Excellent book by Geoff Edmonds about the development of a rural infrastructure planning process which uses access as the main parameter. Access is an important factor in rural development because its existence or absence defines the opportunity that rural people have to improve their social and economic well being.

Seed and produce delivery in rural Africa can improve food security

Akin Adesina, vice president of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (Agra), talked to about the work of the young, Nairobi-based institution and how its priorities and programs are evolving to improve food security across Africa. Agra was founded in 2006, with initial support from the Rockefeller Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, and Bill Gates recently announced that the foundation will give another $15 million to enhance Agra's effectiveness.

Agra is going to put 40% of all the investment in core countries: Tanzania, Mozambique, Ghana and Somalia. If Agra is able to get production up and reduce the price of food, it benefits both urban and rural consumers. But how seeds and crops will be delivered from the farms to the marketplace? If infrastructure is so poor in many countries in Africa, then lack of reliable transportation may hinder farmers in their efforts to deliver fresh produce to urban and rural communities. BUV can help face this challenge… Specifically designed for developing countries, this utility vehicle will provide much needed boost to agricultural productivity Agra is dreaming of.


Missionaries in Asia (India) transport evangelism equipment to hard-to-reach remote areas

Indigenous ministries are working to reach the hard-to-reach and the never reached. When they have begun a work in one of these remote areas, they return often to strengthen the new believers. Many times the only way to transport equipment and materials needed for evangelism is to rent a truck. Otherwise, they have to walk, carrying everything needed by hand. The costs for these rentals, or long distance trips by foot, greatly hinder their outreach. They would be able to cover more ground and work more effectively if they owned reliable transportation.

Christian Aid Mission reports help is needed in supplying many of the needed tools for evangelism in Asia. This kind of ministry could be greatly enhanced if they had a reliable means of transportation to reach those distant villages. Also, a cart would be helpful for moving equipment in places where driving is not possible. BUV is a great solution for such places as India. It would be such a blessing if we could partner with Christian Aid Mission donor’s to bring BUVs to Asia!


The World Bank on transportation challenges in Asia (Nepal): how Basic Utility Vehicle can help

The country of Nepal is an example of how poor roads and infrastructure can prevent a country from breaking the cycle of poverty. Nepal is a landlocked country with China to the North and India to the South. Because of its mainly mountainous terrain and difficult weather conditions, roads and aviation are the major modes of transportation in the country. The presence of railways is negligible, and urban transport services are few. The country uses India’s eastern port of Kolkata as its gateway to the sea.

According to a recent report from the World Bank, this South Asian country has many transportation challenges – from weak domestic resource mobilization to poor accessibility in the remote districts of the country. Southern part of Asia and Nepal in particular need a vehicle specifically designed for the rural geography with poor road conditions. The Basic Utility Vehicle is a simple, low cost, low weight vehicle, designed for rugged terrain and is able to serve the vital needs of a Nepalese community such as transporting people, hauling food and water, etc. Also, BUV’s will enable local people to earn a livelihood and generate income by delivering produce to market and transporting material. BUV is a good solution for transportation challenges in Southern Asia, outlined by the World Bank.


BUV and Business as Mission Concept

More and more Christian men and women in business have such a strong desire to help entrepreneurs in developing countries grow their existing businesses. But they want to do more than just improve the bottom line. Have your heard about Business as Mission (BAM) concept? One good place to stop by in the Internet is the Business as Mission Resource Center located in Thailand. The Center offers the “iBAM Course” preparing individuals and teams for successful business as mission initiatives.


Meet the Bill Gates of Ghana

I am so pleased to know that this young Ghanaian entrepreneur - Herman Chinery-Hesse – is building a thriving tech business in Ghana. His goal to spark an entrepreneurial revolution in Africa deserves the highest respect possible. And it is not only about his e-commerce ideas, but more about his ability to prove that one can run successful and profitable business in West Africa.


Africa can prosper the old-fashioned way—by earning it!

Africa, Africa, Africa… So many words and speeches were delivered and articles were published on the continent’s poverty, diseases, and lack of educated human capital. Also, we all know that all the efforts of the global community to provide financial and humanitarian aid to African nations were not that effective in helping local communities break the cycle of poverty.

Chinese wise man Lao Tzu once said: “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Very true for Africa!  Last issue of World magazine featured a breathtaking article about a new brand of entrepreneurs and economists who say Africa can prosper the old-fashioned way—by earning it!


Social Enterprise Alliance

Learn about the largest gathering of Social Entrepreneurs in America - the Social Enterprise Summit 2010 - April 28-30 in San Francisco CA.

Colin Relef Young Voices Award

The International Forum for Rural Transport and Development (IFRTD) announced the winners of the young voices awards to explore new thinking in rural transport. Visit the website to read their articles and get some fresh perspectives.

First Place Winner: Eric Fofiri - Cameroon: Focus: Analysis of rural transport in Cameroon

Second Place Winner: Thulani Muchiya - Zambia: Focus: Analysis of rural transport in Zambia

Third Place Winner: Adama D Coulibaly - Mali: Focus: The role of bicycles in milk collection in Sikasso, Mali


Transport Management in Africa

As the BUV Missions Institute continues to buildout its training and education program for our partners a great resource has been Transaids manual on Transport management. IAT's Blog As the founder of so beautifully stated IAT's Blog "Hundreds-of-millions of dollars are wasted each year on vehicles which break down" because a transport mangement system is not in place.

Poverty, Microfinancing, G-20, and BUV

I am constantly thinking on what challenges prevent local entrepreneurs in developing countries from growing their businesses. Can the G-20 governments and international organizations like International Finance Corporation help businessmen with new approaches to financial services for the poor? The Microfinance Gateway says that just a few days ago after having the summit in Pittsburgh, USA, G20 released the Final Communique on how to fight poverty. Great to see such an alignment among top 20 economies in the world in terms of breaking the cycle of poverty.


Transportation Needed to Deliver New HIV/AIDS Vaccine in Africa

Riders warned that if the new vaccine against HIV/AIDS that was released on September 24th is to fulfil its potential, it must be effective in sub-Saharan Africa which is home to over two-thirds of those living with HIV/AIDS.   However, the transportation infrastructure in this region is weak and not adequate to deliver this much needed vaccine successfully.


Ghana: IHI Project Fives Alive!

IHI Project Fives Alive! Ghana Project is an ambitious program working to assist Ghana in achieving a goal of reducing  mortality in children under the age of five by 60% by 2015.    The Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI) is an independent not-for-profit organization helping to lead the improvement of health care throughout the world. 


Africa and Sierra Leone: No woman should die giving birth

By surfing the net and thinking about the cycle of poverty, I've found this very interesting article about maternal mortality in Africa, namely Sierra Leone. It is published on the web site of Amnesty International. It's hard to believe that thousands of women bleed to death after giving birth. Most die in their homes. Some die on the way to hospital... In Sierra Leone, less than half of deliveries are attended by a skilled birth attendant and less than one in five are carried out in health facilities.


Patient Capital

IAT's Blog

Take a look at this TED Video by Jacqueline Novogratz on another way to think about aid to developing countries.  She speaks to  'Patient' Capital and the need for private capital to find entrepreneurs on site in the developing world, fund them, teach them and push them to grow the business.  Business week provides a good resource for Patient Capital also.


Tata Nano - Cheapest car in the World

Manufactured in India the Tata Nano comes in at the unbelievable price point of $2500 beating out the Maruti 800 at $3900.  If only we could get these vehicles to handle the rugged African terrain we would be in luck!

Congrats to Hamblen High School

Great article on the hard work and success of Hamblen High school at the 2009 BUV Competition.  Fantastic job to all of you!

Blogging for Non-Profits

As we are rolling out the new site I came across a great article outlining the advantages of non-profit blogging.  More blog entries equals more traffic because the site  appears more relevant to google which in turn indexs your site higher...meaning more people will see your site while doing any searches related to business as missions, BAM, Africa outreach, Christian Missions rural transportation, etc…. Hopefully we can get the team and board...on board to contribute!

New Website

IAT launches new joomla-based website focusing on building a social community with IAT, our partners, and students. Kudos to Scott Farris our developer and Katelyn Dunn our summer intern copywriter.

Village Experience

Today the IAT staff took a lunch hour visit to The Village Experience, a shop near downtown Broad Ripple  that sells fair trade goods from developing nations.  The BUV ministry shares a common  goal with this organization because both care about stimulating the economy in third world countries.  Goods include scarves, jewelry, pottery, hats, purses, candles, and paintings. Also, a handmade soap display caught our eye because it is produced in Zambia, where several BUVs are serving.


A Note from Ron

Ron Lively is an IAT partner and founder of the Healthy Initiatives Ministry (H.I.M) based out of Nashville, TN.  Ron’s plan is to implement a BUV Delivery Service (BDS) Program with a Business Mission Institute (BMI)  that will increase sales and awareness of the long-term value of the basic utility vehicle. Also, the business institute will aim to empower young entrepreneurs in developing countries



From those of us at the Institute for Affordable Transportation, we’d like to welcome you to our first blog.  It is going to be a great opportunity to share the stories that are happening every day at the


Our Mission

The Institute for Affordable Transportation is a not-for-profit public charity devoted to improving the lives of the world's poor by providing simple, low-cost vehicles in order to facilitate community transformation.

Blog List

IAT's Blog

Social Edge - The ultimate Social Entrepreneur bloggers community

Africa Can - One of the more popular blogs sponsored by the World Bank

Missionary Blog Watch - Site dedicated to tracking the blogs of Christian missionaries

Africa's Moment - Magogodi Makhene helps create Africa's missing middle-class through business innovation.

Alyson in Africa - Princeton in Africa Fellow Alyson Zureick blogs on her year in Sierra Leone and the numerous grassroots initiatives for social change.

Engage In Uganda -Seventeen students from Northwestern University are spending the summer in Uganda to implement projects in microfinance and youth leadership.

From Tribeca To Tanzania Keely Stevenson wrote about her work with Acumen Fund in Tanzania, working on distribution of mosquito nets.

Unitus Microfinance Case Studies Unitus presents a series of case studies explaining how leading microfinance experts have tackled some of the most difficult social and economic problems in the developing world.

Skoll Foundation Blog - Skoll Foundation supports a number of social entrepreneurs


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Related Links

IAT's Blog

Transaid - non-profit focused on transport management for “not for profit” fleets of vehicles in developing countries

IFRTD - forum works to improve policies and practices in transport operations, infrastructure, access and service  for poor communities in developing countries.

Riders For Health - non-profit transport management group that deliver healthcare via motorcycles

Practical Action non-profit that works with poor communities in developing countries to develop appropriate technologies

World Bank's Transport Strategy - Business strategy for 2008-2012

Global Knowledge Partnership - partnership of global organizations, local policy-makers, experts and interested users sharing rural transport knowledge.

Int'l Bicycle Fund - Africa Bicycle & Sustainable Transport Advocacy Organizations

Transportation & Development Policy - Promotes environmentally sustainable and socially equitable transportation worldwide.

US Agency for Int'l Development

UN Econ and Social Commission - Latest news in the Transport Division of the UN