Colombian Students Conquer Distance with Postobón’s Mi Bici Program

Postobón is one of Colombia’s largest beverage companies. The company has historically focused on improving the world through their Uno Más Todos program, which promotes sustainability through collaboration. Postobón recognized the need for improved transportation in rural areas, particularly for students with long commutes to school. They saw an opportunity to provide a sustainable solution in keeping with their Uno Más Todos values and longtime sponsorship of professional bicycling. Turning to World Bicycle Relief (WBR) for help, Postobón developed the Mi Bici program to improve education quality and performance in rural areas of Colombia. Mi Bici provides bikes and bike maintenance services as integral transformational tools to students in need of reliable transportation.

In parts of rural Colombia, students spend 45 minutes to two hours traveling to and from school. Local buses are theoretically available to students, but since they must share them with local banana farm workers the buses are often crowded beyond capacity. Walking to and from school through banana plantations instead can be exhausting and dangerous. Bicycles distributed through the Mi Bici project help motivate students to stay in school and study harder by eliminating some of the time spent traveling, making the commute a less physically arduous experience, and giving students a dependable transportation option. As part of the Mi Bici program, mechanics are trained to service bicycles. This has opened up a new employment stream in areas where bikes are distributed.

While WBR has instituted similar programs in Africa through their Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP), the Mi Bici project was WBR’s first foray into Latin America. Just like WBR’s Buffalo Bicycles, the Postobón-branded Mi Bici bicycles are built for rural, rough terrain and are compatible with locally available parts for swift and easy repairs. As of December 2016, Mi Bici had distributed 2,876 bicycles to 30 schools. Postobón has continued to build on this success and now aims to distribute 2,000 bicycles a year. In keeping with their corporate focus on sustainability through collaboration, the Mi Bici project invites teachers and parents to serve on supervisory committees at participating schools to encourage students to improve both attendance and grades.

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