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.Scroll
Greetings from Kisumu, Western Kenya and the banks of the great Lake Victoria.
In the past year, your support has made new programs, initiatives, and results possible. As Leah and I have spent this time in the field, I have been reminded that:
We believe that all answers are found in the field. By paying close attention and conducting rigorous monitoring and evaluation, we’ve been able to seize opportunities and proactively address issues before they become chronic or expensive.
Innovations serve to enhance the raw impact of a bicycle on the individual recipient. The realities in the developing world are tough. Economic, health, and cultural forces can conspire against the most vulnerable – girls striving to achieve an education. With bicycles, we’ve seen dramatic changes in the lives of girl students, who are now getting to school (and staying in school) while traveling safer on their routes. The results reinforce that quality bicycles are a transformative intervention often overlooked in the field of development.
In this report, you’ll find stories and photos that will help you experience what I see in the field every day. I see lives changed, lives saved, and the futures of individuals and their families rewritten because of a simple heavy-duty, high quality bicycle; this makes me wake up with my feet on fire. Read on and see why.
Your support in the last year impacted the lives of many people, some of whom are featured in the following pages. On behalf of everyone at World Bicycle Relief, I thank you for your belief in The Power of Bicycles.
Co-Founder and CEO, World Bicycle Relief
Three years ago, nineteen-year-old Stella’s educational future was in peril. She gave birth to a baby girl just before she was expected to graduate from primary school. By being home all day with an infant, Stella’s future looked bleak. High school was 12km away, and she lacked the funds for school fees. And yet, Stella still dreamed of becoming a Kenyan diplomat, promoting Kenya’s business affairs. So Stella gathered the strength to take her examination, pass, and go on to secondary school at Our Lady of Peace in Muhoroni Township, Kenya.
For Stella, a bicycle is more than just a means of transport, it’s a form of security. In 2016, Stella was one of 150 Our Lady students to receive a Buffalo Bicycle. She still starts her day very early to care for her daughter and complete the household chores expected of all Kenyan girls. But she has gained two hours because her bicycle has dramatically reduced her commute time to school. More importantly, Stella now feels safe on her daily route. “My daughter can now confidently cycle past the sugar cane cutters who have the tendency of sexually harassing young girls and women who they come across,” Stella’s mother says. The threat of rape along school routes is a daily consideration for young girls in Kenya. A bicycle is an important tool in the fight to protect girls from violence, early marriage, and teen pregnancy.
When girls thrive, whole communities thrive. When adolescent girls become mothers, their opportunities for economic and educational growth are limited. According to UNESCO, educated girls have more employment opportunities, are more likely to close the gender pay gap, and are less likely to become pregnant as teenagers. An educated girl has a positive ripple effect on her family, community, and society as a whole (USAID).
Promoting girls’ and women’s decision-making power helps achieve gender equality. WBR has begun to incorporate students, including girls, into our community-level program meetings; this helps set the stage for greater future participation in public decision-making. In a culture that prizes property ownership, a bicycle helps girls command respect from their community. In turn, this helps girls develop the confidence and self-esteem that propels them to success in other areas of their lives.
Motivated by her dreams and powered by her bicycle, Stella is inspired to excel. When Stella received her Buffalo Bicycle, she found immediate relief from the challenge of distance. But she still lacked the funds for school fees. Now, Stella is using her bike in innovative ways to earn money. She plans to start transporting and selling excess produce from her family’s garden and fetching water for her neighbors. Stella’s bicycle has empowered her to reenvision her future, which is now looking bright. “Going to school has become fun for me,” she says. “I never want to miss one day.”
Program Locations: Colombia, Eritrea, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Thailand, Zambia, Zimbabwe
Program Locations: Angola, Indonesia, Mozambique, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Uganda
Supplying bicycles into WBR’s philanthropic programs created strong local demand for our quality Buffalo Bicycle. In 2008, World Bicycle Relief formed Buffalo Bicycle, Ltd., a wholly-owned for-profit subsidiary, to sell Buffalo Bicycles to non-profits, businesses and individuals to meet this market demand.
Our unique business model of combining philanthropic programs with social enterprise sales has multiple benefits:
We continuously look to the field to learn how we can improve. Dialogue with our end-users, field mechanics, teachers, dealers, and partners in development and government is crucial to our work. We listen carefully to better understand their needs. Whether addressing bicycle product development, program design or aftermarket support, we are continuously striving to improve.
Expanded training for bicycle recipients builds stronger riding skills and teaches riders about preventative maintenance and repairs.
We extended BEEP’s “Study-to-Own” student contracts through graduation to encourage retention and academic achievement.
Expanding the training programs and increasing the number of trained WBR Field Mechanics helps support the communities where we work.
The goal of our sustainable Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs (BEEP) is to improve the quality of life for targeted children, households, and communities. Data on local poverty levels, educational attainment, and gender inequality inform our decision to launch BEEP initiatives in new countries. In 2016, we launched a new BEEP initiative in Malawi. We also built upon the foundations established in our focus program geographies. By investing resources and engaging community members, we strive to develop a sustainable ecosystem for the whole community. As ridership expands, bicycle infrastructure grows. Between 2009 and 2016, we mobilized 126,104 students through BEEP.
In 2016, WBR rolled out several BEEP initiatives in Kenya. Partnering with Plan International, Child Fund, and World Vision allowed us to reach more people within the community.
WBR also partnered with Plan International as part of their Wasichana Wote Wasome (Bikes for Students) program. The program seeks to build a strong support system for marginalized or at-risk girls by improving access to education. In 2016, we laid the groundwork for future Bikes for Students program distributions in five coastal counties of Kenya:
“We are now able to keep all of the girls in school and prevent early pregnancies and marriages. Once the students are educated, we will get more doctors, nurses – the whole community will come up.” – Monica Mudonidongo, Vice Principal of Bukhaywa Secondary School, Kakamega, Kenya
Continued collaboration with corporate partners UBS Optimus Foundation and ZF Friedrichshafen AG helped us make a huge impact in both Zambia and South Africa. The UBS and ZF BEEP deployments in Zambia and South Africa resulted in:
Over the two-year program (2015-2016), data from BEEP schools in Zambia show that for students with Buffalo Bicycles:
“I used to dream about owning a bicycle from childhood, and this dream became a reality. I also feel my dream of becoming a nurse will be a reality.” – Monica, student, Chongwe District, Zambia
The Improving Girls’ Access through Transforming Education (IGATE) program is an innovative, DFID Girls’ Education Challenge project with a multi-layered approach to improving educational outcomes for girls in Zimbabwe. IGATE operates with the involvement of partner organizations, each of which is vital to making a deep investment that impacts more girls.
“Who would have thought that a bicycle had the power to ‘rescue’ a girl?” – Saramine Mukete, Senior Philanthropy Executive, World Vision UK
The children of Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world, face major challenges. Many Malawian students, especially girls, are unable to access education due to the barrier of distance. In fact, opportunity cost and long distances mean that 57% of Malawians do not finish primary school. In 2016, we launched BEEP in Malawi:
“I am very happy and welcome the project. Children [with bicycles] go to school on time and have encouraged others. They are doing well in their studies. It is empowering them.” – Thengo Ali, Senior Group Village Headman Mangochi, Malawi
In rural Africa, medical professionals are overworked and in short supply. Community healthcare workers deliver services designed to improve maternal, newborn, child, and adult health. These caregivers require reliable, inexpensive transportation to reach as many patients as possible.
WBR’s wholly-owned subsidiary Buffalo Bicycles sells bicycles to nonprofits and government agencies, who then distribute the bikes to various rural districts, clinics, and hospitals, for use by community healthcare workers. Research shows that these workers can reach 45% more patients by bicycle than on foot.
Quality bicycles result in higher quality care and healthier communities. In 2016, 10,489 Buffalo Bicycles were purchased by more than 15 nonprofits to help support the success of their programs.
In 2016, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) facilitated the purchase of 3,000 Buffalo Bicycles on behalf of the Ministry of Health in Zimbabwe for the National AIDS Council. The bicycles were a key element of a comprehensive HIV education program in remote areas of Zimbabwe, a country that has been hit hard by the AIDS epidemic.
The Nilinde Project strengthens support systems for Orphans and Vulnerable Children affected by HIV and AIDS using innovative, evidence-based approaches. In 2016, the Nilinde Project purchased 269 Buffalo Bicycles to help caregivers care for and protect girls and boys.
AMREF is an organization that’s committed to improving the health of people in Africa by training health workers and strengthening community health systems. In 2016, AMREF purchased 200 Buffalo Bicycles for community health workers in Kakamega County, Kenya.
The Clinton Health Access Initiative, Inc. (CHAI) uses a solution-oriented approach to saving the lives of those diagnosed with HIV and AIDS in developing countries. Improving access to healthcare is an essential element of their approach. In 2016, 526 Buffalo Bicycles helped connect patients and community healthcare programs.
Akros establishes data-driven systems that improve the health of disadvantaged communities. One aspect of their work includes malaria surveillance, prevention, and eventually, eradication. In Zambia, Akros helped design and scale a groundbreaking malaria surveillance system – and they purchased 50 Buffalo Bicycles in 2016 to help deploy it.
Mobility is vital for anyone running a business or seeking a livelihood. In the areas where WBR works, walking or poor-quality bicycles are often the only transportation options. Owning a reliable, durable and affordable Buffalo Bicycle increases access and productivity.
Over the years, we’ve piloted and learned from several economic development initiatives aimed at getting Buffalo Bicycles into the hands of entrepreneurs. We’ve found the extension of payment terms or access to 3rd-party credit through microloans to be the most impactful models that also maintain economic integrity.
We’ve pioneered an Employee Purchase Program (EPP) that allows individual employees to pay for a bicycle over a period of months through pay deductions. This program has yielded compelling results in the dairy, agriculture, floriculture and security sectors.
In 2016, individuals, nonprofits, and businesses purchased 11,483 Buffalo Bicycles to help them achieve mobility and thrive.
An ambitious project sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the European Union (EU) aims to improve food security, nutrition, and income through the sustainable use of natural resources in Zambia. The Conservation Agriculture Scaling Up (CASU) project purchased 4,500 CASU-branded bicycles for small-scale farmers. WBR’s assembly and delivery procedures were scaled to deliver all 4,500 bicycles in just 31 days.
A Kenyan flower farming organization, Oserian Development Company, purchased 50 Buffalo Bicycles for an Employee Purchase Plan (EPP) targeted to female employees. The purpose of the EPP is to encourage freedom of movement and better health for both the rider and the planet, in keeping with Oserian’s sustainable values.
Heifer International aims to end world hunger and poverty by helping families sustain themselves. To support their effective programs, WBR sold 78 Buffalo Bicycles to Heifer International in 2016.
Longtime partner Safeguard Security administers an Employee Purchase Program (EPP) for its employees in Zimbabwe. In 2016, Safeguard Security purchased 621 Buffalo Bicycles to support their EPP. Since 2014, the organization has purchased 2,176 bicycles for the program, which has helped employees get to work more easily and reliably.
A critical aspect of promoting sustainability for the Buffalo Bicycles and our programs is facilitating access to quality spare parts. With standardized sizing, we’ve designed the Buffalo Bicycle for compatibility with locally-available spare parts. The challenge is that these spares can be of poor quality and degrade the lifespan of the Buffalo Bicycle. Our end-users have created a market demand for genuine, high quality Buffalo brand spare parts.
We have approached the market with a “Hub & Spoke” model to help ensure greatest efficiency and lowest prices for our customers. The “hubs” are Buffalo-branded retail shops in locations with heavy Buffalo Bicycle concentrations. The shops serve as a direct-to-consumer channel for retail sales of spares and bicycles. Overlaid with a network of existing and new dealer distribution channels, we can reach further into the market – the “spokes”.
Early results for these shops have been promising, but we will continue to monitor and measure the improved access to spares and the return on investment.
The “Hub & Spoke” model improves rider access to quality spare parts and supports our programs, field mechanics and bicycles.
With our “Hub & Spoke” model, we can collect direct consumer feedback on product quality and demand.
Our “hubs” help increase awareness of our Buffalo Bicycles brand.
Staff Spotlight: Princely Nyandebvu
Princely is a Quality Monitor and Mechanic Trainer in Zimbabwe. Originally hired as an assembler, Princely is enthusiastic to WBR’s cause. His dedication has helped him rise through the ranks. Today, he leads the training sessions for new field mechanics in Zimbabwe and around the continent of Africa. Princely’s dream is to help all bicycle riders in Africa discover the durability of the Buffalo brand so that every bike stays in service as long as it’s needed.
Staff Spotlight: Peter Wechuli
Peter is a BEEP Program Officer in Kenya who sees education as “the great equalizer.” A teacher with interest in education development programs, Peter has seen increased demand for BEEP bicycles among local communities. He attributes the increase in interest to strong program results, robust and clear program strategies, and the ease of bicycle maintenance. As a Program Officer, Peter has seen BEEP implementations empower communities to take charge of their own processes and develop solutions locally.
Staff Spotlight: Adema Sangale
Adema Sangale is WBR’s new Vice President-Africa. Throughout her career, Adema has focused on improving educational access and outcomes, particularly for girls and women. While at Procter & Gamble, Adema was responsible for a global campaign that made sanitary pads more affordable for African girls, helping keep those girls in school. She is looking forward to using her corporate background and insights to help WBR expand across the continent of Africa and develop more innovative mobility solutions that empower women.
After 9+ years building our operations in Africa, I returned to the U.S. as President of World Bicycle Relief in 2016. I couldn’t be more excited to take what I’ve learned this past decade in the field and build on it. Together with our team, partners, and supporters, we will create innovative, collaborative solutions that generate greater sustainable impact.
At WBR, we know that bicycles are cross-cutting tools that can improve access to education, healthcare, and economic opportunities. In the past 11 years, with support from donors and partners like you, we’ve been able to achieve expanded mobility for whole communities. The need is massive; in the tens of millions, by conservative estimates. But we are poised to scale significantly in the years to come. Because of your investment, we are building a robust supply chain of spare parts, a sustainable network of trained field mechanics, and an effective model of partnership to propel us forward.
Please join us in sharing World Bicycle Relief’s story and activating your network of family and friends. Together, we can change the world with The Power of Bicycles.
President, World Bicycle Relief
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.
Selected by Fast Company as one of the “World’s Most Innovative Companies”, our work has also been recognized by the World Economic Forum, Barron’s, and The Schwab Foundation. Our proprietary Buffalo Bicycles and an innovative model combining philanthropic distributions with social enterprise sales has been featured by Forbes, Global Citizen, The Guardian, The New York Times, Philanthropy Age, Rodale, Spiegel, Monocle, CNN, BBC, Arte, The Wall Street Journal, and The Economist among many other outlets.