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 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.