Bamboo is a woody evergreen plant that is found all throughout the Philippines. Commonly, it is used for house construction in the provinces and also as a material for decorative items. However, despite bamboo’s many merits, the Philippine government and most local business have yet to tap into the potential offered by this inexpensive renewable resource. An innovative group of social entrepreneurs, KawayanTech, has done just that — the company uses this oft-ignored woody plant into a sturdy and ecologically-friendly raw material for bamboo frames. Here is a short interview with KawayanTech.
Who owns KawayanTech?
KawayanTech is owned and directed by Tammy Villanueva, Eng. Chan and Eric Cadiz.
Give us a brief background of the company. How and when did it start?
KawayanTech was formed on July 6,2009 when bamboo bike designer and pioneer Craig Calfee visited the Philippines. He conducted a one-week training workshop on bamboo bicycle frame building to select interested parties at the Yap Farm, Municipality of San Jose, Province of Tarlac.
What are the main products of KawayanTech?
KawayanTech is mainly focused on designing, developing and marketing bamboo products, technologies, and services. We develop indigenous forms of bikes and other alternative means of transport, such as a bamboo bikes and skateboards, as social entrepreneurship initiatives with expansion and replication goals.Our latest product is the bamboo tandem bike.
What are your marketing / advertising strategies?
We don’t really actively advertise our products. We just rely on word of mouth, especially among mountaineers and divers,and through shared news on Facebook. We have participated in a few auction events, and this year it was GK’s Hope Ball and UNICEF’s Auction for Action. These events, plus published interviews, have brought about some mileage or at least word-recall, we believe, when it comes to bamboo bikes.
Who is your target market?
We wish we could penetrate the local market more, especially because our product is a Pinoy product. Buy Pinoy and support the local economy, right? In truth, we think Filipinos, in general, take bamboo for granted since we grew up with it and are surrounded by it. We love it, but we just don’t look at it as extra-ordinary.
Foreigners, who are more eager to be green in all aspects, find bamboo and bamboo bikes really exciting. Shipping abroad is quite costly though; we need to look for a more cost efficient way to mail or ship our products abroad.
Is it for local or exporting?
We market our bamboo products both locally and abroad.
What are the current countries you are supplying to? What countries are you targeting?
Fortunately, our bikes have reached Europe(Italy, Germany, Spain, Netherlands, Denmark),the US (east and west coasts), Canada, Australia and New Zealand, Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong because of clients who brought the bike frames back on their own. They were simply bubble-wrapped, labeled FRAGILE, and checked-in as part of their luggage allocation (sports equipment) with no extra cost.
Where can they buy our products?
The best way to reach us is through email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
What makes KawayanTech different from the other companies in your industry?
KawayanTech is focused mainly on selling the frame, and buyers have the flexibility to choose which components they would like to complete the bike. The only bikes we sell complete with parts are the Pinoy or Pinay bikes and the Push bikes.There is only one other bamboo bike company in the Philippines, and they sell the bike complete with parts all the time.
What differentiates KawayanTech from other bike manufacturers is that we promote and develop bamboo as an indigenous technology, and initiate social entrepreneurship enterprises around it. We also promote bamboo planting, reforestation species, and bamboo nurseries. KawayanTech also develops partnerships with individuals, groups and the government in the hope of transforming their outlook on bamboo, the environment and development. Ultimately, we aim to make the Philippines a regional, if not global, leader in bamboo technology and products.
If consumers are not getting your products what are they missing out?
It would be nice to see many bikers owning and riding on our Pinoy or Pinay bamboo bikes.The Pinoy or Pinay frame is our greenest bike — ordinary metals are only used for the inserts. Spare bike parts or an old bike’s parts are used on a Pinoy frame, making the frame true to the 3 Rs: Reuse, Reduce and Recycle.
We at KawayanTech believe that owning a bamboo bike is meant to reflect oneself. It is a statement to show that one is: first, environmental and actively supports ‘green’ efforts in reducing carbon footprint; second, into health and fitness; third, a caring citizen who supports social causes since KawayanTech bikes are made by GawadKalinga residents; and lastly, truly Pinoy and supports Pinoy products!