“Fietsproject”, an initiative of Jason Weller, was awarded the Isaac Roet Prize 2015 during the UvA in Carré event held on Friday 18 September. The purpose of this project is to provide sustainable and affordable transportation in West Africa.
Fietsproject will send containers of Dutch bikes to Ghana for distribution in rural communities via the Village Bicycle Project (VBP). This project was chosen because it met the requirements of the philosophy behind the Isaac Roet Prize: 'fostering world peace through a better distribution of world resources' .
The jury felt that Fietsproject clearly defined who will benefit from the project as well as assuring the sustainable nature of the initiative. Dutch bikes are very popular in Ghana. However, currently the VBP does not partner with any Dutch organisations. Fietsproject will act as a Netherlands based “supply chain” for VBP. Many stakeholders will benefit: Rural farmers who get the bikes will receive training on how to maintain and repair the bikes. They now have their own means of transportation. A bike provides them with freedom and flexibility as longer distances can be traveled more quickly while carrying larger cargoes.
Furthermore, bicycle mechanics are another group who benefit because VBP supplies them with trainings and reduced cost tools and parts. In other words, VBP is creating micro businesses for the mechanics who get training to do more advanced repairs. Since the people have the bikes there are people in the village who will eventually need their services.
Finally, the municipalities who are Fietsproject partners will benefit because Fietsproject provides them with a means of disposing of unwanted bikes. Fietsproject not only offers them a way to save money by reducing the inventories at their bicycle storage depots, it also provides them with an opportunity for good public relations.
Jason Weller has been invited to return next year to present the results of his project at next year’s Isaac Roet Prize award ceremony.