Bicycle Projects in Africa and Latin America

by Tom on December 12, 2009 · 11 comments

in advocacy and activism,Afribike,Timeless Posts

More than a billion people worldwide live on less than one US dollar a day, and many of them lack adequate access to transport. In rural areas, markets, schools, and health care facilities can be widely dispersed, and public transportation is often erratic, crowded, and expensive. Walking is the only reliable transportation available to many hundreds of millions of people.


There is a simple solution that can put schools and clinics within reach, increase the loads that can be carried to market, allow the small vendor to reach more potential customers, or radically increase the number of patients a rural health care worker can reach in a day: the bicycle.


In addition, providing a few simple tools, teaching bicycle repair skills, and helping start a shop with an initial small stock of used bicycles can create an entrepreneurial opportunity that lifts a family out of poverty, or provides a steady stream of income for a small local nonprofit.


Creating economic opportunities for women as mechanics - how cool is that? (Photo: BEN Nambia)

In this season of giving, I have been thinking a lot about the transformative power of bicycles. Although there are lots of amazing bicycle nonprofits and cooperatives in America, it will come as no surprise to Bikejuju readers that I am particularly interested in the role of bicycles as a vehicle for change in Africa, where I spend a couple of months each year.


Bicycle ambulance designed by BEN Namibia.

Over the last six months I’ve been assembling a list of projects in Africa and Latin America that harness the transformative power of bicycles in myriad ways, and now I’d like to ask you to consider supporting them.

It’s that time of year. Please support one of these projects with a generous donation. How about a hundred bucks?


Getting Rwandan coffee to market.

In 2010 I’ll be turning Bikejuju more in this direction, blogging a lot more about these initiatives, including visiting a few in person. If you have experience working with any of these organizations, or are aware of other projects in Africa, Asia, or Latin America that should be added to the list, please post a comment or get in touch.


PS: only seven days left in the Dark Days photo contest, with prizes from Planet Bike and Bikeglow. Contest ends 12/20. At dusk.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

David Williams December 14, 2009 at 8:33 am

Thanks for this posting and keep up the great work on spreading the word about bikes.

Jonathan December 14, 2009 at 8:44 am

Great post! I’m glad to see the direction you are going in. I love to restore bikes and hope to get involved in one of these projects someday.

Jonathan (Five and Dime Bicycles)

David December 15, 2009 at 10:36 am

Could also include the International Bicycle Fund.

Tori December 17, 2009 at 9:26 pm

Tom, I am eager to comment because I think your post is wonderful. A simple solution for so many,,,, a bicycle, yes! So many take common place things for granted- I loved how you spelled it out so clearly, a bike can be a lifechanger.

Thank you for sharing!

jason August 7, 2010 at 11:30 am

I’m am independent field worker developing a workshop in Ghana’s Grtr Accra Region. We’ve received bicycles from collections in the UK and US – from Re-Cycle and the Village Bicycle Project.
Let me know if you’re ever in Ghana…

Tom August 7, 2010 at 3:18 pm

Jason – In most cases that would be a throw-away comment, but I am actually working on a plan to get to Ghana in the next 4 months, primarily to visit bicycle projects. I’ll be in touch!

jason August 8, 2010 at 1:22 am

Sounds good.

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sell my house September 17, 2012 at 2:37 am

Its superb as your other content : D, thankyou for posting . “Experience is that marvelous thing that enables you to recognize a mistake when you make it again.” by Franklin P. Jones.

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