How Bicycles Empower the World’s Poor (& How You Can Help)

For most of us, cycling is a way to keep fit and have fun. It’s a good excuse get outside more. But that’s not the case for everyone. In some parts of the world, bicycles are “transporting people out of poverty”.

Imagine wanting to study but not being able to get to school.

Imagine being sick and not being able to get to hospital.

Imagine growing crops and not being able to sell them.

Imagine being forced into an early marriage because you have no other options.

Imagine not having access to better opportunities.

What is Poverty?

Ask the average Westerner what poverty is, and they’ll likely tell you it’s not having enough food to eat or not having access to clean water and sanitation. To some degree, both are right.

However, this response from an attendee at a Ugandan Financial Workshop drills to the heart of what it actually means to live in poverty. “Poverty is not having transportation to leave my community. It’s seeing other people leave and access greater opportunity—getting to bigger markets or even a health clinic—and it’s you who is stuck.”

A Means to Create Change

cycling out of poverty

Recognizing the pivotal role bicycles play, particularly in impoverished communities, the United Nations instituted World Bicycle Day as a way to celebrate an invention that’s as simple as it is life changing.

Along with being an affordable and reliable mode of transport, it’s also an eco-friendly and sustainable way to get around. Where the bicycle really comes into its own though, is in rural areas where it serves as a means to access education, healthcare and better economic opportunities.

Bicycles Provide Access to Opportunities

In Uganda, one bicycle has the power to impact five locals. It can triple market attendance, connect people to healthcare facilities, get more students to school, carry more water in less time and more.

[Watch] Bicycles Against Poverty – A Story of Grace

Bicycles Help Rural Girls Avoid Childhood Marriage

In India, the gender gap in education persists in this traditionally male-dominated society. The dropout rate of adolescent teen girls is high. With no other options, they’re often forced into early marriage.

Bicycles are “a road to empowerment” for these girls. Bikes allow them to not only dream big but to make those dreams a reality.

[Watch] Pedal = Sight: With My Own Two Wheels

[Watch] How a Bicycle is Leading One Girl Out of Poverty

What You Can Do to Help

To date, Qhubeka —a South African-based non-profit— has provided bicycles to more than 90,000 disadvantaged locals. They’re not alone in their efforts. Like-minded citizens everywhere are on a similar mission. If you want to help make a difference to the world’s poor, the best way to do that is by supporting one of the many amazing cycling charities working to change the status quo.

Related at Care2

Photo Credit: Getty Images


Anna R
Anna R2 days ago

Good article. Thanks.

hELEN hEARFIELD2 days ago


Emma L
Past Member 7 days ago


Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson8 days ago

Thank you.

Edgar Z
Edgar Zuim8 days ago


Marija Mohoric
Marija Mohoric9 days ago

Good idea, tks for sharing.

Tanya W
Tanya W9 days ago

Thank you for sharing

Tanya W
Tanya W9 days ago

Great initiative! We'll done!

Anne M
Anne M9 days ago

Great idea,, donate your old bicycle to charity.. - Either that,, or use them, ya lazy bones..

Sandra V
Sandra V9 days ago