Empowering Development Through Bicycles

What is black, shiny, holds up to 200 pounds, is easy to repair and transforms lives?  A bicycle designed and built for Africa by World Bicycle Relief.  The Aid for Africa member has just put its 100,000th bike to work in Africa.  What can 100,000 bicycles do? Transform 500,000 lives.   In the hands of students, disaster victims, health workers and small business owners, these bicycles are empowering individuals, communities and entire economies.

In Sub Saharan Africa, WBR’s bicycles are serving communities in Kenya, Mozambique, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Here are a few of the people whose lives have been changed:

  • Cynthia, who uses her bike to go to school (with her brother on the back!) and help with household chores.  Her 1.5-hour walk to school now takes less than half the time.
  • Greyford, a mechanic who was trained to repair the bikes, now has some 100 clients.
  • Purity, who uses her bike to deliver milk to a processing center from her father’s farm, ending their persistent problem with spoilage.
  • Mary, one of the few women field mechanics who supports her two children with her work.
  • Nebo, a health care provider in rural areas who has doubled the care he provides.

World Bicycle Relief, a U.S.-registered nonprofit organization, was founded by Frederick K. Day (known as F.K.), a cofounder of Scram, the second-largest maker of bicycle components. Seeing a need following the 2004 tsunami, F. K. went to Sri Lanka, where he designed and distributed bicycles for disaster victims. He then saw the need in Africa, where paved roads are rare in rural areas, and cheap bicycles last few trips on the rough terrain.

Today WBR bikes are providing transportation, jobs and hope to half a million people.  And WBR has just begun.

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Diamond Bonanza Fails to Benefit Zimbabwe

Kenya Next for ‘The Curse of Oil’?

Photo credit: World Bicycle Relief

27 comments

Ra Sc
Ra Sc4 years ago

This is a good step toward helping people to have options. Mobility is really important. A bicycle takes a lot less energy and time to use than walking does, which allows you to do other things with your time and energy.

Nina Anghel
Nina Anghel4 years ago

Wonderful way to improve lives!

Carol M.
Carol M.4 years ago

Something as simple as a bike changing peoples lives...Excellent!

J.L. A.
JL A.4 years ago

Wonderful way to improve lives!

Joe C.
Joe C.4 years ago

Is anyone aware of the Disabled Veterans, Winter Texans, who come to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and have bicycles brought do to them in large trucks. The Vets strip all the paint off, repaint and repair the bicycles to almost new condition and take them across the border into Mexico. The bikes are given to Mexican schools to be given to the students who do well with their studies. It is nice to see, in this time of violence, for the men delivering the bicycles to be greeted with open arms and a warm smile when they take them to the schools. I cannot confirm this but I am told the students try harder in their studies to get higher test scores in hope of receiving one of the bicycles. Another story of good people trying to share their life experiences in a positive manner.

Jason Waldo
Past Member 4 years ago

If any one doubts the empowering effects of a bicycle, try living 5 miles from town and have your only car break down to the point where it will take months to years to fix it. I've been through this, living on a fixed income, and riding beats walking to get groceries any day.

Lauren B.

Thanks!

Jason S.
Jason S.4 years ago

Good Posting, Thanks

Mary L.
Mary L.4 years ago

What a great idea although I like Will R.'s idea. The problem with it is cost. It costs a lot less to donate enough to buy a bike.

Debbie L.
Debbie Lim4 years ago

Fantastic!