El Poder de Bicicletas: The Power of Bicycles in Colombia

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Postobón, one of Colombia’s largest beverage companies and a long-time sponsor of Colombian professional cycling, wanted to help rural students through the Power of Bicycles. The result, Mi Bici, is a remarkable new program in partnership with WBR bringing the Power of Bicycles to Colombia for the first time. In 2015, Mi Bici – My Bike – will provide 1,600 WBR Buffalo Bicycles to rural students, teachers and community leaders.

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In planned distribution areas, the average student’s transit time to and from school is between 45 minutes to two hours.

Education is key to development. Our goal is to improve [access to] education by reducing school dropout rates, so that students have better opportunities. Being able to provide students with the Buffalo Bicycle is a dream come true. – Paula Restrepo, Director of Sustainability, Postobón

Mi Bici Launch

In February, 160 bicycles were distributed at the Villa Nelly and Barranquillita schools in the Uraba region of Antioquia. In attendance were WBR’s Co-Founder Leah Missbach Day, Executive Director Charles Coustan and Development Director Katie Bolling. WBR team members were honored to be at the inaugural distribution to experience firsthand El Poder de Bicicletas in Colombia!

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In addition to bikes designated for students, Mi Bici will help to generate employment in distribution areas. As in other parts of the world where Buffalo Bicycles are distributed, mechanics are trained so that recipients have access to qualified maintenance and repair service, and spare parts when needed.

Over the next several years, Postobón hopes to turn the Mi Bici program into a long-term program that delivers several thousand bicycles annually and to potentially open an official WBR assembly facility in Colombia.

Meet Dayana

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Dayana is 16 years old and in 8th grade. Her family lives on the edge of a banana plantation where they work packing the ripe fruit for shipping.

The local bus is free for students in rural Colombia, although it is often crowded beyond capacity. On the way home, students share the bus with the workers from the banana farms and often have to wait until 9 pm to board for home. In addition, if the bus needs repair or is out of service for any reason, they can’t get a ride to school.

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If she misses the bus and the resident bike is not available, Dayana faces a long walk to school on tiny roads among a maze of banana plantations – a difficult journey that takes her about an hour each way. When asked about her Buffalo Bicycle, Dayana replied:

[My bike] is very good. The school and students are aware that the kids who really need them are getting them.

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Looking ahead, Dayana has big goals — one day she would like to go to law school and become a judge. As one of Mi Bici’s first recipients, Dayana is just the beginning of the Power of Bicycles in Colombia.

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The Future

Like Postobón, our field partners are committed to providing specially designed, locally assembled, rugged bicycles to support their missions. They recognize that the Buffalo Bicycle is a simple yet powerful part of the solution. In the coming two months, Mi Bici will distribute an additional 400 bicycles in the Antioquia state. In the fall of this year, 1,100 more bicycles will be distributed in the region.

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Stay tuned for more about this exciting partnership with Postobón and Mi Bici as we work together to provide Colombian students with access to education and hope for a brighter future!

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