On a recent trip to Zambia, I had the privilege of meeting many men, women and children who have been creating new opportunities for themselves and their communities with their Buffalo Bicycles from World Bicycle Relief. I also met an unforgettable superwoman named Indie, a compassionate-warm hearted engineer who personifies ingenuity, style and leadership. Another brilliant African woman turning challenge into opportunity – not with a Buffalo Bicycle, but rather with its packaging.
In 2018, Indie began a rapidly growing chicken livestock production for consumer consumption, but the onset of COVID-19 quickly impacted her agribusiness. Demand for meat lowered, and team members and family became ill and worse. Determined to turn her misfortune into opportunity, Indie quickly transformed her existing infrastructure to an evolved line of business that showed increase in demand – egg production and distribution.
As her business grew, Indie found egg trays to deliver her eggs in short supply. Using her creativity, engineering training and entrepreneurial spirit, once again she pivoted to create a paper recycling plant that turns cardboard Buffalo Bicycle shipping boxes into egg trays—which she sells while also creating job opportunities for local community members. We found Indie and her mission to be right in line with our priority to make our packaging as sustainable as possible in our materials and in the way we package bicycles and parts to minimize wasted space.
Instead of bringing in experts from outside of the country to develop the waste paper recycling factory, Indie mentored an ambitious team of local community youth to do the installation of equipment and fabrication of tools necessary for her operation. Through this experience, they now can conduct maintenance of equipment and repairs while providing sustainability of the factory and job creation to support economic growth.
When you empower women, you empower a community and a country.
Indie also shares a deep passion for gender equality and prioritizes empowering women. “I have seen and experienced the first-hand positive ripple effect of including women, to improve livelihoods beyond only women. When you empower women, you empower a community and a country.”
At the paper recycling factory, she trains women and youth who are responsible for the quality control, drying and packaging of paper egg trays.
Indie once again is working on improving carton production capacity to install an automated drying facility, which will facilitate continuous production that is not affected by weather. To maintain the eco-friendly concept, Indie plans to incorporate a biogas digester as a source of heat energy, rather than coal. Chicken manure will be used as feedstock for the biogas digester, plus other biomass and farm waste. This in turn will create even more jobs.
Once this pilot project finishes successfully, Indie plans to diversify to manufacturing other paper products, such as carton boxes, as well as open up recycling factories in other cities and countries.
Indie and her team believe in the concept that “nature protects when we protect it,” enshrined at the core of the triple bottom line impact of sound social, gender and environmental consideration. Buffalo Bicycles and World Bicycle Relief are proud to partner with Indie in her ongoing leadership and efforts.