An adventure in Malawi

Great news, funding for the following project has been approved, which means Electric Pedals are off the Malawi early next year! Woo Hoo!

A meeting with Elspeth Waldie founder of Purple Field Productions the other week has sent us off on yet another adventure….

Purple Field Productions is a charity that makes films and videos for educational and humanitarian purposes. Their mission is to not only increase awareness and understanding, but also to give people a voice.

A few months ago, Elspeth and team just happened to be out in Kisoro, Uganda making a film about protection of the environment and improving livelihoods in the face of climate change, and bumped into our old friend Denis Agaba from the Wild Life Clubs of Uganda. We met Denis in 2009 having handed over our first prototype of the Field Cinema to support the conservation work he and GAFI were doing in the surrounding schools. Denis gave Elspeth a demonstration of his field cinema and talked about the good work it was doing (see Purple Production’s director having a pedal above). Elspeth and her team were excited at the prospect of using this system in some of the regions they support in Africa. They currently take their films about HIV/AIDS, disability awareness, cerebral palsy, agriculture/food security and the environment to Malawi, Ghana and Rwanda and beyond.

For each project Purple Field Productions works in partnership with a collaborator – usually a small charity or NGO who work in the field and see the need for a film, but cannot afford to make one themselves. At the moment many of the educational films end up being shown on a TV powered by a petrol generator. The equipment is heavy, and fuel for the generator is not always available. One of Elspeth’s potential partner groups in Malawi sent this statement and pictures:

“This last year we have found it has been an extremely difficult year with regards to running mobile film shows, there has been (and there still is) a fuel crisis in Malawi, obviously we cannot run film shows without fuel as we use a generator to power it. Our staff have been walking to reach projects when we do not have fuel.”


We met Elspeth and talked through some ways we could solve these issues. One of the things that was clear was that our Electric Pedals bicycle generator and bicycle combination was not the solutions. They felt that it was just too cumbersome and heavy. So we needed to devise a energy generating unit that was fit for purpose; light, efficient, rugged and ultra portable.

This is what my dad and I have come up with so far (to be fair, he’s done most of the work!).

It’s early days yet, we’re meeting with Purple Field Productions again in a few weeks to continue discussions and iterations of this new design. We’ve tested the kit and it works brilliantly and at a mere 7kg, you can put it on you back and climb a mountain with it. Fingers crossed we’ll start sending these out to Africa next year to continue the great work the field cinema started.

Aside from anything, it’s been ace working with my dad on this project, who I have to say has been a legend…thanks Dad.

More soon,

Colin.