World Bicycle Relief

2017 Impact Report

World Bicycle Relief mobilizes people through the Power of Bicycles. We envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to independence and livelihood.


Dear Friends

I know a few of you in person but I feel like I know many more of you for what we have accomplished together. Simple, yet powerful: the provision of a strong, reliable bicycle helps individuals cover the distance separating them from their dreams.

Our dreams may have some similarities: give me the power of an education, or access to healthcare, or an essential tool for my business, and I will have the independence to improve my life and the lives of others. Herein lies the power of bicycles in developing countries.

For an individual whose primary mode of transportation is walking, access to a bicycle is like an industrial revolution in his or her life. Everything we do at World Bicycle Relief stems from the productivity leap that occurs between walking versus riding. It is like the rediscovery of the wheel. You and I have so many transportation choices that it is difficult to grasp the magnitude of change. We must imagine this magnitude from our life of plenty, as opposed to the reality, which is from a life lived limited by walking.

You and I can only imagine what must be felt in the heart of a girl student or businesswoman liberated from the limitations of walking. This 2017 Impact Report is important for three main reasons:

  • It openly shares the data we harvest from our Monitoring & Evaluation studies, which helps us constantly improve our programming and impact.
  • It allows governments, NGOs and corporations to evaluate our programs’ impact and return on investment (ROI) so that they may choose to emulate us, retain us, or evolve a new structure.
  • It illuminates for you and me, who have so many transportation choices, the raw impact of a bicycle on an individual’s life whose only choice is walking.

As you read this year’s report, I hope you feel ownership for what we have accomplished together. If you have questions or comments, please ask as there is much to be learned for us all.

With greatest thanks and appreciation to know you,

F.K. Day
Co-Founder & Chairman
World Bicycle Relief

Conquering Distance to Accomplish More

Meet Lizzie

As dawn breaks over Chongwe District in Zambia, 13-year-old Lizzie, like most Zambian girls, is already hard at work on household chores. She begins the day by washing dishes in a bucket of water while sitting on the ground outside of her mud-brick home. Then, she boils the day’s drinking and cooking water for the whole family. Every morning, Lizzie travels 2.5km to the pump, then returns home to build a fire. Before receiving her Buffalo Bicycle in 2016, she would walk to fetch her household’s 20L of water and carry it home on her head. Today, Lizzie can ride to the water pump and back much faster than on foot, her water jug securely fastened to her bicycle’s rear carrier.

On school days, Lizzie’s busy morning is not yet over. She still has another 4.5km to travel to get to Makangwe Primary School. While the path to school can present physical dangers to girls on foot, Lizzie travels with more confidence by bicycle. Plus, riding has cut her total commute time to just 40 minutes, leaving her more time to study or rest. Lizzie and her family also use the bicycle to run errands or carry grain to the mill.

Like most girls in developing countries, Lizzie is expected to contribute considerable time and effort to support her household. But Lizzie envisions a day where her hard work both benefits others and earns her a livelihood. She plans to finish school and become a nurse. By saving precious time and energy each day, Lizzie’s Buffalo Bicycle will help her achieve her dream.

  • Bis heute

Our Global Impact


World Bicycle Relief is deeply committed to creating longlasting, sustainable change. Your support enables our innovative programming, thoughtful implementation, and close relationships with partners on the ground, maximizing your impact.


Program Locations (2017): Colombia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Thailand, Zambia, Zimbabwe

  • 54,687

    Buffalo Bicycles
  • 273,435

    Lives Changed
  • 222

    Mechanics Trained
  • 9

    Program Countries

Our Global Impact


Program Locations: Angola, Colombia, Eritrea, Ghana, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe

  • 396,074+

    Buffalo Bicycles
  • 1,980,000+

    Lives Changed
  • 1,900+

    Mechanics Trained
  • 20

    Program Countries

Our Sustainable Model

World Bicycle Relief has developed an innovative and scalable model combining impactful philanthropic programs with social enterprise to address the need for reliable, affordable transportation in rural developing countries. Social enterprise sales from our wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary, Buffalo Bicycles Ltd., help fund our philanthropic programs and provide valuable data that help us develop economies of scale and other efficiencies. Your support helps us leverage our impact to provide more than just bicycles.

Learn More

Mobility and the Sustainable Development Goals

In 2015, world leaders at a UN Summit adopted 17 goals as part of a new sustainable development agenda. The Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, aim to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

Mobility is an essential element of development strategies that aim to achieve the SDGs. In sub-Saharan Africa alone, there are over 600 million people who walk as their main mode of transportation. The lack of efficient, reliable transportation adversely affects economic and social development in regions where distance is a barrier. Connecting individuals to basic needs can help achieve SDGs that benefit these communities.

Overlooked as a development tool, the bicycle can drive global progress. Compared to walking, bicycle riders can carry five times as much cargo in just a quarter of the time. A high-quality bicycle in a developing rural area is a powerful, cross-cutting intervention that immediately improves livelihoods and educational and healthcare outcomes.

Buffalo Bicycles are sustainable, affordable, built to last, and can be used by individuals of all ages; they are essential to achieving the SDGs and creating long-term sustainable change in developing countries.

Our programming directly contributes to achieving nine sustainable development goals

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Unsere Programme tragen direkt dazu bei, neun der 17 Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung zu erreichen

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Strong Like a Buffalo

All bicycles are not equal. Most suppliers of bicycles in developing countries have become disconnected from the end-user, resulting in bicycles that aren’t designed for rough terrain and heavy loads. As a result, these “Bicycle-Shaped Objects” can break down, stranding riders and costing them valuable time and money to repair. Years of research and constant innovation have helped us build a bicycle that’s purpose-built for the needs of rural communities: the Buffalo Bicycle.

Durable, well-designed, and supported with a network of trained mechanics and affordable quality spare parts, the Buffalo Bicycle delivers the greatest utility and value to those in developing countries and allows individuals and communities to accomplish much more in a single day.

Education as a Catalyst

Education is a powerful way to unlock lifelong equality and success for girls; it establishes gender parity at an early age, grows confidence, and builds the skills and knowledge that will improve job prospects in the future. We support girls by allocating 70% of our Buffalo Bicycles for girl students through our Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP), which also employs local trained mechanics to support riders and contribute to a sustainable bicycle infrastructure.

Community partnership and engagement in our programming establishes girls’ value and allows their voices to be heard. However, more data is needed about the long-term effects of Buffalo Bicycles on girls, schools, and communities. To complement our ongoing data collection practices to improve programming and impact, in 2017 we initiated a study to evaluate the impact of bicycles on girls’ empowerment, self-esteem, and confidence in addition to school attendance, enrollment, and academic performance. The results of our research will drive innovation and change in our programming, and guide us as we build partnerships and programs to address the challenges girls face worldwide.


Related SDGs

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  • Stories:

Evaluating the Impact of Bicycles on Girls in Zambia

WBR and UBS Optimus Foundation are co-funding a rigorous, 2-year randomized control study led by Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) to measure the impact of our Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP) on girls and boys in Zambia.

  • 45 treatment schools received 4,000 Buffalo Bicycles and 55 control schools did not receive bicycles
  • Each school is an average 50 km from the nearest main road (round trip)
  • Direct engagement with the Ministry of Education (MOE) in Zambia as an implementing partner
  • Attendance, performance, retention, bargaining power, and empowerment will be measured over the next several years
  • Full report findings are expected to be published in 2019; progress updates will be provided along the way

Distributing Bicycles in Malawi

In partnership with FHI 360 in Malawi, BEEP was integrated into PEPFAR’s DREAMS initiative, which aims to reduce HIV infections among adolescents by strengthening education, health, and economic support in at-risk communities. The partnership produced a BEEP distribution of 1,220 Buffalo Bicycles to students.  In 2017, WBR expanded its bicycle infrastructure in Malawi, establishing both WBR Malawi and Buffalo Bicycle Malawi with a full team to support local bicycle assembly, social enterprise, and program implementation for Education and Health projects.

Collaborating to Make a Difference in Ghana

Mondelez International, owner of the Cadbury chocolate brand, invested in mobility in Ghana by funding 5,000 BEEP bicycles for students in partnership with World Vision and Village Bicycle Project. This collaboration enabled our first Buffalo Bicycle distribution in Ghana. An additional 1,540 bicycles are slated for distribution in 2018.

Mobilizing Students in Colombia

Postobón, Colombia’s largest non-alcoholic beverage company, continued to support students through a BEEP initiative started in 2015. In 2017, 2,500 Buffalo Bicycles were distributed to students in rural Colombia. Postobón also evaluated the achievements and challenges of the program last year. Their study found that, thanks to bicycles, 86% of students reported improved quality of life, 92% of students saved money on transport costs, and commute times dropped by 46%.

It Takes a Village to Make Bicycles Sustainable

Our Bicycle Supervisory Committees (BSCs) are critical to the success of our educational programming and the creation of sustainable bicycle infrastructure. Each 12-person BSC is comprised of teachers, parents, students, and community leaders and is responsible for making important decisions about their communities’ Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Program (BEEP). From selecting bicycle recipients to enforcing beneficiary contracts and monitoring maintenance and spare parts needs, BSCs play a key role in sensitizing other community members to the value of BEEP programming.

WBR has developed and facilitates a series of capacity building and training sessions for lead BSC representatives. During each five-day training session, participants learn how to use and teach each step of a decision-making process that guides the development of local BEEP policy and programs. At the end of each training session these participants can share new tools, techniques, and best practices with their communities, driving greater impact for our end-users.

We share experiences, skills, and knowledge...and find solutions to the challenges.

Bicycle Supervisory Committee member at termly coordination meeting, Kenya


We are here to learn and implement procedures for creating impact.

Bicycle Supervisory Committee member at termly coordination meeting, Kenya


The girls can now say, they have something. They have a voice.

Bicycle Supervisory Committee member at termly coordination meeting, Kenya


Now they are independent! They carry their friends.

Steven Ogola, Head Teacher at Raliew Secondary School, Kenya


Field Research for Healthcare Innovation

We continued to explore and collaborate with field partners through studies and pilot programs in 2017 that will inform healthcare program evolution and field partner engagement in 2018 and beyond. In 2017, we:

  • Undertook field-based research to learn how healthcare-focused programs and health workers in Malawi use bicycles and to explore the need for quality bicycles and bicycle programs
  • Developed a new integrated discovery scoping method for all future healthcare programs as part of our country program strategy
  • Launched a pilot healthcare program in Malawi to help us build a sustainable model that WBR can scale and bring to other NGOs responding to AIDS, malaria, and more
  • Explored innovations for how field mechanics maintain and supply spare parts for healthcare applications, including supplemental training, facilitation of mentoring opportunities, and new methods of parts delivery


Related SDGs

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  • Stories:

Implementing a Healthcare Pilot Program in Malawi

In partnership with Save the Children, WBR launched a sustainable “bicycles for health” pilot program to test whether the model could be scaled and offered to other NGOs with healthcare initiatives managing AIDS, malaria, and more.

  • 354 healthcare workers received Buffalo Bicycles in 2017, with programming continuing into 2018
  • Three pilot districts were included, each with 25 geographically isolated health centers focused on TB and sexual-reproductive health outreach
  • Participating health centers received training for BSCs and local mechanics and spare parts to keep bikes rolling on rough gravel roads

Supporting Adolescents With HIV in Zimbabwe

Africaid, a community-based organization that supports children and adolescents with HIV, partnered with UNICEF Zimbabwe to supply 1,285 Buffalo Bicycles to Community Adolescent Treatment Supporters (CATS). CATS provide information, counseling, and other support to Africaid’s beneficiaries. Traveling by bicycle allows CATS to make more visits in less time.

Improving Healthcare Experiences in Kenya

A partnership between Plan International Kenya – Nilinde and WBR provided 448 Buffalo Bicycles to Community Health Volunteers (CHVs) in Kilifi County, Kenya. An assessment team used questionnaires and interviews to determine the impact of the program on CHVs and other caregivers. Data shows that Buffalo Bicycles contributed to increased interest in the CHV program, better retention among CHVs, and more visits to patients. Caregivers used the bicycles for other important household tasks, such as fetching water, carrying produce, taking children to school, and running errands.

Easing Transportation Challenges for Workers

Distance can present a challenge to businesses and employees in rural developing countries, as public transportation options are often unavailable or unaffordable. Owning a reliable, durable, and affordable Buffalo Bicycle increases access and productivity, but the cost of paying for a bicycle up front can be a barrier to end-users. An Employee Purchase Program (EPP) allows employees to pay for a bicycle over a period of months through payroll deductions.

Safeguard Security Company employees have purchased over 3,500 bicycles since implementing an EPP in 2009. With a bicycle, the average commute reduced to 1 hour 20 minutes (from 3.5 hours walking) and saved workers $1-$2 USD in daily public transportation fees. Employee feedback helped us adjust our spare parts distribution strategy to improve access. Thanks to their participation in the program, Safeguard employees now arrive to work on time and regularly – and they have a valuable household asset that can be used for many domestic tasks as well.


Related SDGs

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  • Stories:

Helping Farmers Implement Sustainable Practices in Zambia

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) purchased 4,500 Buffalo Bicycles for mentor farmers in the Conservation Scaling Up (CASU) program in Zambia. The 4-year CASU program trains farmers in conservation agriculture practices to make farming more sustainable and profitable. In a follow-up study, WBR measured the influence of bicycles on the transportation challenges of a sample of recipient farmers.

  • Questionnaires, interviews, and focus discussions documented the experiences of farmers who received bicycles through CASU
  • With bicycles, farmers increased their monitoring visits by 120% while reducing time spent traveling by 60%
  • 90% of farmers used their bicycles to transport produce to market

Offering Farmers Reliable Transportation in Malawi

Ziweto Enterprise is revolutionizing the way that veterinary care and livestock services are offered to smallholder farmers in Malawi. In 2017, Ziweto Enterprise began selling Buffalo Bicycles in their shops so that local farmers could benefit from the bikes’ carrying capacity and reliability.

Enabling Employee Transportation in Kenya

Red Lands Roses has had a subsidized employee purchase program (EPP) in place for several years as a key component of their corporate social responsibility project. The program covers 70% of the bicycle cost and has generated great enthusiasm among employees, most of whom now have bicycles. In 2017, Red Lands Roses purchased an additional 88 Buffalo Bicycles for employees.

Letter from Our CEO

Dear Friends and Supporters,

According to the World Bank, over 60% of the 1 billion people living in sub-Saharan Africa are living in rural areas – that’s 600 million people whose primary means of transportation is walking. What we hear and see most in the field is the very real challenge of distance to access healthcare, education and economic opportunity. As the world focuses on attaining the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030, mobility provided through a quality bicycle can help break the cycle of poverty and disease. With greater mobility, individuals and communities can improve their resiliency and begin to thrive.

At World Bicycle Relief, we live by the motto “All answers are found in the field”. We prioritize our time and resources to gather data by engaging and soliciting feedback from bicycle recipients, field partners, and customers to make us a better organization and to better leverage your support for greater impact and efficiencies.  With your support in 2017, we launched new initiatives, developed new partnerships, and helped tackle the barriers of distance through bicycle mobility:

  • Collaborated with Ministries of Education and local BEEP Bicycle Supervisory Committees (BSCs) to empower local decision-making and expand educational outcomes.
  • Engaged community health experts and learned how increased mobility through bicycle programs can help dramatically increase access to healthcare.
  • Expanded the roll-out of our Buffalo Bicycle Shops to provide greater access to quality spare parts and bicycles.

Our vision for 2018 and beyond is to continue to innovate, collaborate and create mobilized communities – viable bicycle ecosystems that support educated children, healthier communities, and robust economies that benefit all.

Thank you for your continued partnership and support. Your contribution is vital to our success in reaching the millions of individuals who are challenged by distance.

Dave Neiswander
Chief Executive Officer
World Bicycle Relief

Get the Report

World Bicycle Relief mobilizes people through The Power of Bicycles. We envision a world where distance is no longer a barrier to independence and livelihood.

We believe that mobility is a fundamental human right. With bicycles, individuals can more easily access education, healthcare, and economic opportunities, empowering people to make positive change in their lives and communities. Through our innovative model and mobility solutions, we are committed to achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.

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