How one bike is changing Nepal
Sept. 16th Portal came out with their latest model of cargo-bike and if you think this is just an ordinary bike, get ready to be amazed! A group of avid bikers got together and started designing bikes that would be as, sales manager, Tenjing says, “ a platform for entrepreneurs and our local community to transform their ideas into something life changing!”
Walking into the Portal workshop and design studio it’s immediately obvious the space is created to inspire creativity. Everything from the stools at the long lunch table, the glass topped desks, to the light fixtures has been created from repurposed items and materials. There are twelve people who work at Portal and everyone plays a crucial part in what’s done there every day. The staff here decided they wanted to make the Portal team one to inspire new norms in Nepali society so at Portal the women are taught to build bikes along with the men. The team is all about thinking outside the box and bringing new opportunity to the communities around them.
The new cargo-bike has been in the design studio since 2015. The team realized that many personal businesses in Nepal use bikes to transport and display their goods such as vegetables, clothing, knife sharpening, trash collectors, carpet salesmen, and so many others. They realized how much of an impact could be made on the businesses in Nepal if the could create a bike to be better quality and versatile to the many needs people have. Since they wanted this bike to be perfect for everyone they started to create prototypes for the local community to test out. They got a lot of feedback from the community after the first couple months of testing. “People were excited about these bikes and wherever there was a bike, there was a crowd full of questions,” Tenjing says. After a few minor adjustments, they have come out with their latest model and is it a hit? Tenjing says, “ It takes time for people to accept something new but there’s always several people in a community willing to take a risk and try something new. After they see how well it works for them they tell all their friends and they’ll buy it.” The bike has more than just worked for many people, it’s created businesses and empowered so many business owners to do even more in the short couple months the bike has been available.
One of the coolest things about Portal is that they didn’t stop creating at the bike. As Dustin from admin says, “We develop innovations to empower, that’s our goal.” The team created a corn sheller that can easily hook up to the bike. The bike can be put on its sturdy kickstand and it will take one person pedaling the bike to shell in two hours what would take a family two days to shell by hand. Their simple and lightweight design for the corn sheller makes it easy to transport from village to village during harvest time. They are now working on coffee grinders, generators, washing machines, and many more exciting things to better equip the people around them. Nepal is unique in its terrain; ranging from flat farmland on the south to the Himalayan mountain villages on the north. Bikes are used mainly in the south farmlands but because of the machines designed to be powered by the bike, these bikes become very useful in the very steep mountain villages where electricity is rarely available and farm work is very intensive. Portal’s even thought about the fact that this bike needs to be able to be transported easily to get to places like the Himalayan villages so the bike can be taken apart and packed in the most compact way. Even though they are still improving their merchandise it seems as though there is nothing they don’t think of when it comes to making a bike useful for everyone.
Portal’s mission is:
” TO DEVELOP THE WORLD’S MOST INNOVATIVE AND ADAPTABLE BICYCLES THAT TRANSFORM LIVES AND POWER BUSINESSES”
They haven’t been at it too long and their already achieving just that along with so many more dreams for the future!
Report by Emma Mosemann