SpinCycle Helping Impoverished Populations
Richard Hewitt, a product design student at Sheffield Hallam University, devised the idea for the SpinCycle while volunteering at an orphanage in Burundi, Africa. Hewitt experienced how tedious and time-consuming it was to wash over 30 loads of children’s clothes by hand. He became dedicated to finding a more efficient solution. In 2010, Hewitt invented the SpinCycle: a bicycle-powered portable washing machine. He customized the machine to easily attach to the back of a bicycle so users could wash their clothes while also getting exercise, saving time and money. Another advantage of this bicycle-powered solution is that it can easily circulate throughout small communities to ensure that everyone’s laundry is washed quickly and affordably. Therefore, SpinCycle is also very beneficial for individuals who have mobile laundry services. Here are five facts demonstrating how SpinCycle is helping impoverished populations.

5 Facts About the SpinCycle

  1. Though created in the U.S., the product trials took place in Africa. Richard Hewitt returned to Burundi in 2012 to test out the first SpinCycle. Since Burundi inspired the idea, Hewitt figured it was the most appropriate place to test out the first re-designed SpinCycle. While in Africa, Hewitt met a young man who worked as a clothes washer in the small village of Ngozi. Hewitt gifted the first SpinCycle to that laundryman, equipping him with a cycle-powered full laundry service.
  2. The SpinCycle started as a mandatory college project. To fulfill his Product Design major at Sheffield Hallam University, Hewitt had to complete and present a self-directed project. After his experience in Burundi, Hewitt decided to center his project around the construction of a cycle-powered washing machine. This earned him top grades and recognition from his teachers as well as national media recognition from supporters all over the world.
  3. Hewitt’s vision for the SpinCycle was that of a “micro-enterprise in the developing world.” In every aspect of the design process, Hewitt considered the needs of impoverished communities, including those of the Burundi village community. Therefore, Hewitt designed the SpinCycle to save time, energy and water for those who lack access to these basic necessities. Additionally, Hewitt wants the SpinCycle to be easily accessible for populations without available electricity. He hopes to help provide better resources to impoverished people around the world.
  4. SpinCycle plans to open a factory in Africa to distribute the machine to impoverished populations. Twenty-eight of the poorest countries in the world are in Africa, making Africa the poorest continent on earth. Therefore, Richard Hewitt and other SpinCycle investors are planning to open a SpinCycle factory in Africa, centralizing the company near the majority of its user base. SpinCycle also plans to partner with charities and other non-governmental organizations throughout Africa to distribute the SpinCycles to communities without electricity.
  5. The SpinCycle could also be useful after natural disasters. Storms and natural disasters, both in the United States and abroad, largely impact a community’s electricity. Losing power typically prevents individuals from showering, cooking and doing laundry. The SpinCycle does not require any electricity, however, allowing users to wash their clothes without interruption. The SpinCycle is helping impoverished populations in remote areas. However, many individuals worldwide could use and appreciate the invention as it is cost-effective, easy-to-use and environmentally friendly.

Richard Hewitt transformed a college project into a tangible invention that is helping the world’s poor. The SpinCycle is helping impoverished populations by saving time, water, energy and money. More importantly, though, this invention encourages innovation and growth in these poor, rural communities that could improve life in many societies for years to come.

– Ashley Bond
Photo: Wikimedia

Bicycle Powered Washing MachineDue to the lack of access to electricity and money, 14-year-old Remya Jose, from Keezhattor, India, created a bicycle powered washing machine. This machine created power through pedaling. As time goes on, this bicycle powered washing machine has the potential to make life much easier for families living without access to electricity.

In December 2014, Frank Clemente, Professor Emeritus of Social Science at Penn State University stated that no nation holds more of the world’s poor than India. At least 300 million people had no power at all and 700 million lacked access to modern energy services for lighting, cooking and water pumping. A simple task, such as washing clothes, is time consuming in India because many lack access to electricity.

It was with this in mind that Jose created her machine. She drew a diagram of it and her father took it to a nearby auto shop and asked workers to build it using his daughter’s instructions. The machine looks like a stationary bicycle connected to a metal box. It is composed of aluminum and has a horizontal cylinder in the center made of iron net wire.

To wash clothes, users put them into the cylinder, fill the box with water and detergent. The user then pedals for three to four minutes which rotates the cylinder at a very high speed with the clothes inside, cleaning them thoroughly. The soapy water drains out, the barrel is refilled and the process repeated.

There are many benefits to using the machine. First and foremost, it doesn’t require electricity in a region where electricity is rare. Second, it saves time. Washing clothes in the region took hours prior to the invention of Jose’s machine. With the machine, it takes about 30 minutes. Third, it can be used for exercising. The bicycle that powers it gives the user a workout. Fourth, it’s cheap. It costs about Rs.2000. Finally, it is mobile. One can pick it up and go. This is very practical for rural areas where it is used.

Unfortunately, the practicality of the machine has made it a turn-off for investors. Investors state that the machine is not commercially viable. So, despite the awards Jose received for the innovative invention, she has been looking for a job.

While investors may be uninterested in backing the bicycle powered washing machine, one thing is clear: Remya Jose made a difference. Her invention saves time and money for several of the world’s poor. In addition, it has inspired others to create improved versions of it to market to people interested in conserving energy. Jose’s story shows that with creativity, one individual can improve the lives of many.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr