When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic in 2020, World Bicycle Relief shifted its efforts in response.
In the early stages, new partnerships with health and livelihoods organizations promoted better support for communities coping with the changes and new challenges of everyday life. Women and girls were the hardest hit, elevating the urgency to mitigate the effects of the pandemic and put them in a stronger position to rebound. Lockdown restrictions, school closures, restricted access to program sites, supply chain issues, and shipping delays persisted through 2021, requiring ongoing flexibility and providing insights to inform future programming.
With established Mobilized Communities pilots in Colombia, Kenya, Malawi, and Zambia, we plan to deepen our commitment and expand to a second program site in each of these countries to join the two sites in Zimbabwe. Expansions will include improvements informed by impact data and strengthened partnerships with communities, local organizations and institutions. We are working with these communities to help them achieve the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), many of which depend on expanding rural access to education, healthcare and economic opportunity.
With Mobilized Communities, we aim to increase bicycle usage and expand support of bicycle ecosystems through programming, mechanics training, and a ready supply of quality bicycles and spare parts through Buffalo Bicycle retail shops.
In the past 16 years of World Bicycle Relief’s programming and Buffalo Bicycle distribution, more than 3.5 million* women, men, and children in rural communities have gained better access to education, healthcare, marketplaces, and economic opportunity.
In line with our 2021-23 Strategic Plan to reach a cumulative total of one million bicycles and empower five million people, World Bicycle Relief advocates for a global transformation in rural transportation. Key to our vision: Fostering a sustainable bicycle ecosystem, deepening collaboration with partners, and publicizing our data and learnings about rural mobility.
We built a better bicycle so that rural individuals and families can build better lives.
Designed to be stronger, simpler, and more sustainable than other bikes, the Buffalo Bicycle serves the needs of rural people who travel long distances over rugged terrain with heavy cargo. As our programs grew, so did demand for the Buffalo Bicycle. Today, our social enterprise model includes an expanding network of shops to supply spare parts, bicycles, and mechanics’ services into a growing bicycle ecosystem.
More than one billion people have moved beyond poverty over the last 25 years, and progress has been unequal. Many people living in rural communities are often left behind without access to critical services that can help end the cycle of poverty. Women and girls remain the majority of the one billion rural people still living in poverty without access to reliable transportation.
We envision a world where partners come together – the private sector, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), communities, and funders need to work together to build inclusive systems, programs, and policies that connect rural residents with the opportunities they need.
Sustainable mobility solutions are essential to achieving the the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and World Bicycle Relief is uniquely positioned to advocate for rural mobility and access. We pledge to build the evidence base and advocacy case to fuel a global conversation about mobility that will inspire and equip others to address the injustice of rural exclusion through community-driven, gender-intentional programming. We hope you join us.