2 minutes reading time (475 words)

Creating Autonomy

Creating jobs can be just as important as providing affordable transportation to jobs. At Bikes for the World we are focused on not just delivering used bikes to developing countries, but helping build stronger communities through access to healthcare, education, and jobs. Sometimes those jobs are created through the donations we deliver.

Our bikes generate several jobs depending on our receiving partner. From mechanics, to sales, to the organizational positions themselves, our flood of 500 bikes creates a flurry of work on the other end of our donations. But that work, again, depending on the the partner, may be 'seasonal' in nature. Once those bikes are repaired and sold or donated our partners' workshops may sit dark until the next shipment.

On the other hand, some programs use bike sale funds to support year long activities that benefit the community such as health initiatives, after school programs for at-risk youth, and micro-credit opportunities.

Our project partner in Costa Rica, FINCA Costa Rica, is an excellent example of how our bike shipments are building businesses and supporting communities throughout the year. FINCA Costa Rica has established community-run micro-credit groups known as ECCs. The ECCs are owned and operated by local residents who benefit through micro-loans offered by the ECCs. Capital from the sale of our donated bikes helps build that pot of money that funds the loans.

Members can take out a loan from the ECC to help establish small businesses that usually operate right there in their community. It may help a carpenter grow his inventory. Buy feed for a chicken farmer. Help a new seamstress afford a sewing machine for her family-run clothing business.

These small, locally established businesses address the challenge of transportation by keeping work close to home. They are also the fabric of the community, pulling the town together, providing needed goods and services within walking distances of their homes.

Many of the ECCs exist a mile or more from the nearest town center where markets and service stores exist. Many of the roads leading to members' homes are remote and unpaved. Motorized transportation is scarce. Public transportation is expensive and unreliable.

FINCA Costa Rica is working to improve the socioeconomic conditions and quality of life for the poorest families through these established ECCs. By supporting their autonomy and improving their access to diverse businesses they are creating stronger families and sustainable towns.

Some ECCs also offer training programs like the sewing classes offered to teach seamstresses techniques to improve their businesses. Many members will enroll in these classes in preparation for starting businesses making everything from children's toys to formal dresses and intimate apparel.

Bikes for the World helps support this effort by also collecting used sewing machines and donating them to select partner projects. FINCA Costa Rica is one such partner. To read more about this sewing effort and our donations continue on to our blog.

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