By Nnamdi Odumody
About 600 million Africans are without electricity, hampering overall economic productivity. Bongajum Lesley, a young Cameroonian, grew up in his village where inconsistent power supply caused his lecture notes at school to be destroyed by tears as a result of this critical paralysis. A couple of his colleagues lost their homes from fire accidents caused by candles, and fuel generators. He managed to graduate despite this mishap while others who couldn’t study under darkness, unfortunately, dropped out from school along the way.
Having developed series of non communicable diseases which also affected other members of his family, and being predisposed to being obese and diabetic at as young age, exercise was his only solution. He started working out at the gym and loved the spinning sessions, seeing positive results a few months later in his physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
After he had lost 10 kg in three months since commencing exercising, and wondered where the energy lost at the gym was going to, he remembered the law of energy conservation which states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed but transferred from one form to the other. Immediately, an idea to develop an exercise bike which connects the mechanical energy from pedaling, by its user, to electricity while building muscles, emerged. He shared this vision with his gym mates, friends and family members and those who developed interest lent their support on how to make it better.
With this, he developed a working prototype. The classic version of the bike which is more affordable harnesses energy from the sun, and pedaling by its user, storing it in a portable battery. This is designed for those whose main need is electricity. The second version is a virtual bike featuring a 15 inch touch screen filled with pre-recorded spinning classes, choreographed to meet its user’s fitness and energy needs with plans to include more entertaining and educative features.
Lesley’s Bonga Power Bike is his third entrepreneurial venture as a serial entrepreneur having founded ventures in healthy beverage and cosmetics (Le Havre which scaled to 10 African countries within two years). His plan is to do to electricity what mobile phones did to communication while making workout fun, educative as well as productive.