Farming is a big part of life in northern Madagascar. There are several 'cash crops' present in the DIANA region. Some of those crops include cocoa and Artemisia which is used in anti-malarial drugs and gaining new interest. But most farmers produce rice, and while yields have been increasing, many of those farmers continue to struggle to feed their own families during the lean seasons when food becomes scarce.
Rural farmers trying to harvest crops and move product to market struggle with access to mobility. Many 'roads' are hard to navigate especially with ox-drawn carts and even via four wheel drive vehicles (if available) during certain periods of the year. Bikes were introduced to help promote healthcare but quickly spilled over as a viable transportation solution. But spare parts and mechanics remained scarce in the area.
Until the e-Box was introduced. Taking an empty container, that once held the 500 or so bikes we donate, this community transformed it into a locally run bike shop. Mahaiavo is a member of his local e-Box in Anivorano where he is also a farmer. Mahaiavo already owned a bicycle to help tend to his crops, but he didn't have the knowledge or skills to maintain it.
While working in the e-Box, Mahaiavo received mechanical training and can now assemble and repair bikes. He is able to balance his work in the fields with his occasional hours in the bike shop. This additional income supplements what his family needs to help purchase additional food or seed.
Mahaiavo also saves money now that he can make repairs to his own bike rather than pay for service and parts. Members of his community also come to him for repairs or advice on their own bikes. Because there is no other training like this in the region, many Malagasy are lining up for the next training session at the e-Box.