Ex Royal Mail Work Bikes Are The Business in Malawi.
Ex Royal Mail Work Bikes makes business in Malawi, one of the poorest countries in the world. For the majority of the population owning a van or lorry is about as likely as owning a helicopter. But purchasing a solid utility bike is manageable with some careful saving and hard work. And once a family own a bicycle, studies show that household income levels rise by at least 35%, this is not insignificant when nearly 80% of the population are living on less than $2 a day.
So sending bikes to Malawi is obviously a good thing and we’ve sent thousands over the past ten years. We donate the bikes to Beehive Centre for Social Enterprise, which is a collection of 8 non-profit enterprises providing employment for around 700 people. 8 local residents are employed in the bike workshops; they lovingly restore each and every bike funded through the sale of the UK Elephant Bikes. Then each bike is sold, this is the crucial bit, they’re not given away for free. All the money raised through the sale of bikes in Malawi funds an incredible children’s centre built by us in 2012. The centre, which is in the heart of Chilomoni, has supported over 10,000 vulnerable local children to have the best possible start in life. A recent inspection of the centre found that it has reduced infant mortality and improved children’s ability to thrive at school. That’s why this is all called the Cycle of Good.
But not all the bikes we send are sturdy ex-Royal Mail bikes, although we’re proud to have sent around 8500 of those! We also send mountain bikes, road bikes, and even children’s bikes. In total we’ve sent over 20,000 over the past ten years.
Whilst it’s easy to spot the value of sending a work bike or cargo bike that can carry vegetables, charcoal, chickens and even goats to market. It’s not quite so obvious about the value of sending children’s bikes. But we’re firm believers that an early entry into the world of cycling provides a lifetime of benefits.
We recently helped the children’s centre to start Chilomoni BMX Club. This was made possible because of the bikes that are donated to us by Halfords and shipped with funds raised through the sale of Cycle of Good products.
The Club meets weekly after school and there’s a waiting list of children eager to join. The principle aims of the club are to learn to ride a bicycle, be introduced to cycling as a sport, learn to maintain a bike and start to race competitively. But the weekly gatherings do so much more; children challenge themselves, they learn to persevere and to feel pride in their own achievements. They make friends, they stay fit, they have fun. The Club means for once, despite living in one of the poorest countries in the world. They can just do the things that all children do!
This year, we received thousands of children’s bikes from the Halfords Trade-In event. They’re all joining the far more grown up and useful Royal Mail bikes that are now prevalent in Malawi. Bikes are ending poverty, providing joy and funding vital children’s services. Who knew that cycles could do so much good?!