Bicycles Against Poverty

Bicycles Against Poverty: Changing and saving lives with bicycles

Gulu, UgandaGulu, Uganda
Year Founded:
2009
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Start-Up
Budget: 
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Providing smallholder farmers affordable transportation so they can access basic life needs, including healthcare, clean water, education, and markets for trade. Bicycles Against Poverty works with rural African farmers to distribute bicycles on a financing plan so individuals pay back over 1 year.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if everyone could be given the chance to afford the transportation that provided access to opportunities?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Rural Africans are: 5 miles to a health clinic; 3 miles to clean water; 6+ miles to a market. As a result: 52% of Ugandans lack access to clean water; 90% of the world’s deaths from malaria occur in sub-Saharan Africa; Lack of transportation contributes to food and nutrition crises. With 35 million Ugandans and 80% smallholder rural farmers, that leaves millions cut off from life-needed resources and markets to earn a living.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Bicycles, simple and inexpensive, are a sustainable means to access life-needed resources. However, 80-90% of households in East Africa indicate that they cannot afford a bike. Bicycles Against Poverty provides locally assembled bicycles, on a financing plan, to rural Africans who use them to access: -Health centers for emergency and routine needs -Markets for trading and earning income -Schools for education -Clean water The financing plan is advantageous because it: 1) breaks up the payments in small installments; and 2) gives farmers immediate ownership to an income generating tool to help them pay for the bike loan. BAP then leverages already-existing networks to run its program, including working with partners.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

Kidega Patrick is a smallholder farmer in Uganda. He cares for his mother who is disabled and suffers from heart problems. The hospital is too far for her to walk so every week Kidega takes her on his BAP bike, whenever her symptoms flare (temp rising, hives). She sits on the carrier of the bike he rides the 1-2 hour long journey. The bike is also a business. Kidega runs a small enterprise where he buys wholesale goods at one market and re-sells them. The bike means access to the larger wholesale market and transport for the materials. Kidega wasn't able to afford a bike ($85) in one installment, but the BAP financing plan meant he could get a bike, earn more money, and continually pay back the loan. He told BAP "This bike is my life."

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

BAP has delivered over 855 bicycles to Ugandans living in 13 different communities, thereby impacting over 4,275 as a result of frequent bike sharing. Other successes include: 1) 25% of participants start new businesses with their bikes, 2) 30% increasing their income, 3) 1,200 women and children collect clean water, and 4) BAP bike owners are attending markets more frequently than non-BAP participants. Women tell us the bicycle and control over the loan has given them freedom and independence— our goal is to increase women participation for a source of empowerment. Community members explain that, even if someone doesn't have a bike, the village still benefits from BAP's presence because there are more bikes to share. This is most common when malaria hits and patients needs to be rushed to the health clinic immediately (within 24 hours).

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Our vision is to reach every subsistent farming community to bridge the gap of access. We’re scaling our program by working with partner organizations to address specific social impact needs. We’re piloting with esteemed organizations such as CARE, Save the Children, and VSO International. By partnering with such established organizations we’re able to expand our potential reach to millions of farmers across the globe. Our goal is to distribute 100,000 bikes by 2020. We will spend the next 2 years replicating and refining and by 2017 take it fully to scale.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

BAP charges for its bikes. We buy bikes at wholesale rates and re-sell them at above market prices. Our clients are willing to pay extra given the advantage of paying over time and having access to the income generating tool. We are working to break even in mid 2016. At that point we will only use donations to help expand the program and not sustain it.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

BAP is the only organization to use a microfinance model in our bike program. We use local companies to source the bikes. Other global bike organizations give free bikes or design their own bikes. We believe in supporting the local economy as well as our repayment policy, which assists in client financial management skills and BAP's financial sustainability. BAP works with partner organizations with complementing missions (women empowerment, economic dev, & youth) to provide bikes to their participants— producing an efficient supply chain and building on already-established relationships.
Team

Founding Story

BAP's story begins with Muyambi Muyambi, who, at a young age, experienced the difficulty of lack of transportation firsthand. With a mother who had a chronic illness, yet no bicycle in their family, Muyambi and his siblings would constantly have to find a bicycle in the community to take her to the hospital. He saw those bike owners as real-life superheroes. After earning a scholarship to the U.S. he wanted to ensure that all Ugandans could have access to bikes. I went to university with Muyambi and after he conceived the vision we worked together to make the idea a working program. I decided to leave my job after overhearing one of our participants say that 'having no transportation and being stuck' is her definition of poverty.

Team

We have 9 staff members: 5 full-time (2 expats and 3 Ugandans); and 4 part-time (1 expat and 3 Ugandans). We rely on local Ugandan staff for program development. We have a working board of 8 U.S. professionals who range in backgrounds: finance, business, int'l dev, nonprofit, and fundraising. We are adding more local staff and phasing out expats in order to run a more sustainable program.
About You
About You
First Name

Molly

Last Name

Burke

About Your Project
Organization Name
How long has your organization been operating?

Project
Organization Country

, Gulu

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Gulu

Funding: How is your project financial supported?

Individuals, Foundations, NGOs, Customers.

Supplemental
Awards: What awards or honors has the project received?

National Geographic Traveler's of the Year (2013)
Clinton Global Initiative University (CGI U) Outstanding Commitment Award- 2008, 2009
Do Something.Org Award

Where have you learnt about the competition?

Ashoka Changemaker's

Tell us about your partnerships:

BAP implements its program via partnerships. We partner with the world's largest NGOs, including Save the Children and CARE international, as well as their local field partners. Both groups help identify new communities and participants as well as with loan management given their community knowledge.

Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?

We rely heavily on our partnerships for success. As a result, we've developed a thorough set of standard operating procedures (SOP) that we utilize in our partner and loan officer orientation. Ingrained in the orientation is a follow-up time in which we utilize the SOP as a check-list to see if the partners and loan officers have met the standard.

Our emphasis on a thorough training and quality control means that we're proactively addressing such challenges.