Congratulations to 2009 Byron Fellow Ben Mitchell, Co-Founder of Baisikeli Ugunduzi, who recently placed first in the New Venture Competition held at Central Michigan University. Mitchell, a Phd. student in Michigan Technical University’s mechanical engineering program, and his business partner, Wade Aitken-Palmer, took home a $30,000 first place prize and an additional $10,000 for Best Social Venture. Their start-up (whose name translates into “Modern Bicycle” in Swahili) has developed a bicycle tire tube that eliminates flat tires, and serves the over 5 million people in sub-Saharan Africa earning a living on their bicycles.

In May, the duo will head off to Kenya to launch their first product, the aptly titled Milele or “forever” tube, and support this section of the sub-Saharan economy, who can spend as much as 10% of their income repairing flat tires. Mitchell, who was inspired to start the company during a two year stint in West Africa with the Peace Corp, is launching the venture by partnering with with mechanics and local bicycle taxi unions (known as Boda Boda), to create the marketplace this summer, and hopes to formally launch this coming August.

For more information on Ben and Baisikeli Ugunduzi, check out:

Congrats again, Ben! Good luck and keep up the great work!