A Simple, Effective Seed Project in Rural East Africa

Health worker receiving bicycle

Schaffer&Combs, working through its client Tiba Foundation, recently helped to launch a program to provide bicycles to rural health workers in one of the poorest regions of Kenya.


The premise…
is simple.  In rural Siaya County, where Tiba Foundation invests in rural health care, each community health worker is responsible for 100 families in their home villages.  Working on foot in this sprawling region, they can visit three-to-five families a week, bringing medicines, making sure people have clean water and bed nets, arranging for higher level medical care where necessary.  Riding a bicycle, that becomes eight to ten families per week.  In most of those families, the community health workers are responsible for saving roughly one life per year.

The math is compelling.  But it’s still just a premise.  The job now is to get to work collecting evidence of results.

The Program…
For about US$100.00, Tiba will invest in one Phoenix bicycle and a year of maintenance.  The Phoenix is a tough-as-nails Chinese bicycle perfectly suited to the muddy, rutted roads of rural East Africa.  It’s easy to repair and lasts a decade or more.  Over the life of each bicycle, hundreds of families will live healthier, more productive lives.

Seed Investment
Village Health Committees are meeting this week to decide which health workers will receive the first ten bicycles as part of a pilot program.  The most productive workers get the first bikes.  At the same time, the committees are conducting baseline surveys of the families these workers are supporting so that a year from now we’ll have hard evidence about the health effects of increased home visits. Then the program expands in earnest.


We love this program because it’s the very definition of a seed investment: affordable, effective, measurable, and scaleable.



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