Carry that weight

Will Bono

Though he won’t admit it, Chicoan Will Bono is a life saver to many. Six years ago Bono, president of local environmental-consulting company Hanover Environmental Services, Inc., began yearly trips to the Kilolo District of Tanzania in East Africa as part of the Kilolo Star Well Drillers project, which was spearheaded by Chico attorney Ron Reed. Wanting to help the locals make a living for themselves, they taught them to use the equipment to drill wells—more than 130 so far—for surrounding villages. Now Bono’s spearheading another nonprofit project to teach villagers near Tanzania’s Mount Kilimanjaro how to build bike trailers in order to transport goods to market. Bono doesn’t accept donations, but if you have ideas for projects email him at

How will the bike trailers be utilized?

The poor villagers near Moshi, Tanzania, make a little money selling their meager crops or livestock in the town, which is 10 or more miles of very hard roads away. They don’t have cars and can’t afford the bus, so they carry their goods by hand or balance them on their bike seats while they push them along. I used Chico’s pedicab idea with my friends Ron Reed and Dr. Bruce Gallaway to build a variant called the “Chico Pup” that will carry up to 1,000 pounds of weight.

What are the villagers’ living conditions?

They’re not starving, but are undernourished and live on $1.25 a day. They live in mud huts with no electricity and are subject to disease. They have only one doctor for every 17,000 people. If you are born with clubfoot, which is routinely cured in this country, you will have it for life. I’ve seen people with a misshapen cleft lip who are too ashamed to ever leave their homes.

How did you settle on the trailers as the best option?

We wanted to find a product that was viable for them to manufacture with local materials to improve their lives. We also wanted to give them a business plan to execute so they can have their own careers building and selling them to those in need. We saw so many villagers struggling to bring their crops and livestock to the city markets, so we hit on the bike-powered-cart idea.

When will you deliver the trailers?

On June 20, four of us will travel [to Tanzania] with two prototypes. One is a utility trailer and the other carries two to three people. We will test them there to see if they are robust enough for their unpaved, ungraded roads. We will then modify them there as needed, and judge the manufacturing costs and their market viability. While there, we will also drill at least one well for the locals.