Princely, 28, leads the trainings in Zimbabwe. He started with World Bicycle Relief in 2010 and says he loves working with the mechanics. He explains, “If you want a good bicycle, you must know how to assemble it properly.”
Princely and the rest of the team take trainings very seriously. If you can’t build a bicycle from the ground up, Princely says you won’t get near a Buffalo Bicycle in the field as a mechanic. He encourages the mechanics in this so they do their best in learning the assembly process.
Trainees at the Harare facility receive four days of training on site followed by a fifth day where they are put to the test and must build their own Buffalo Bicycle from the ground up. Participants also learn techniques and tricks of the trade from the seasoned assemblers on site.
After four days of training, participants build their own Buffalo Bicycle. They are given hand tools to work with, but they assemble the bike without power tools or the benches used in the assembly facility. The workshop is intentionally set up to simulate field conditions. Many of the mechanics will set up their shops with little more than a cardboard mat under a tree. If they can build a bicycle here without the frills, then they have a much better chance of being successful in the field.
At the end of the fifth day, each trainee has successfully built a Buffalo Bicycle and gives his or her bike a test ride. Trained mechanics receive a uniform, tools, a bike repair manual and basic business and marketing training. On average, each of the mechanics trained in Harare will have a built-in market of at least 100 Buffalo Bicycles to service in their area thanks to the Bicycles for Educational Empowerment Programs at area schools.
The field mechanic program is an essential part of our self-sustaining model. Once Buffalo Bicycles are available in a community, they never need to leave that community for repair or maintenance, and local residents with an interest in mechanics are able to create a new income stream for themselves.
It costs only $50 to provide a field mechanic with a toolkit, which also offers an entire community the life-changing Power of Bicycles.