Hello, my name is Nikki DiAntonio and today I am going to be talking about poverty, and how bicycles are being used to combat it.
Bicycles are helping to improve the quality of life of homeless and poorer people around the world.
Poverty in America versus the rest of the world:
The U.S. poverty rate is the highest of developed countries around the world. However, America does not even begin to compare to third world countries. In fact, 80% of humanity lives on less than $10 a day. 28% of all children in developing countries are estimated to be underweight or stunted. 1.6 Billion people in the world- a quarter of humanity- live without electricity, and 7% of children in developing countries will not survive beyond the age of 5.
You may be asking yourself: How the hickity heck is this related to bicycles?. Well thats, good question! When you google the words ‘bicycles and poverty’, a plethora of information appears. In fact, ‘Bicycles and Poverty’ has its own wikipedia page. In further research, I found that there are countless efforts around the world (including America) that are using bicycles as a tool to improve conditions of those living in poverty.
Now, I want to answer the question: What exactly is Poverty? At a program called ‘Unreasonable East Africa’, a Ugandan financial workshop leader asked this very question. A Ugandan woman answered, “Poverty is not having transportation to leave the community. It’s seeing other people leave and access greater opportunity.”. As the conversation progressed, other people discusses how important bicycles are in developing countries for those affected by poverty. Others shared “Distance shouldn’t be barrier to opportunity for people living in rural communities.” “Bikes are a key driving force for economic development”.”With the ability to travel to a distant market, an entrepreneur can access better prices and return with more goods to increase their profit margin.” “The bicycle is a means to achieve upward mobility.”
Perhaps the most influential and well known organization that uses bicycles to fight poverty is “Bicycles Against Poverty”.
Perhaps the most influential and well known organization that uses bicycles to fight poverty is “Bicycles Against Poverty”. Their Slogan is ‘One bicycle at a time’, and they believe that distributing bicycles to rural African communities will improve their standard of living. “On a lease-to-own basis, we provide bicycles to those in need to help them access clean water, healthcare, better market access, and schools.”
In the program I previously mentioned, the facilitator of the event from ‘bicycles against poverty’ says,
“Previously, we had a mother who had to pay a month’s worth of wages to afford to hire a motorcycle to get to the clinic, but then she couldn’t afford the medicine,” says Burke. Faced with this conundrum, the mother had to choose whether to walk and risk taking the extra time, but save the money for the medicine. “People are constantly trying to weigh the costs, and it’s a lose-lose.”
It is “bicycles against poverty”’s goal to provide a solution to these problems. The founder of Bicycles Against Poverty shares her first hand knowledge, and explains how they know bicycles can make a difference. They say, ““I grew up in a nation where few have the chance to own a bicycle. It’s a simple vehicle, but it saves lives in times of need. Bicycles also mean access to markets for trade allowing people to earn an income; they mean a ride to school for education, and transportation to clean water sources. Bicycles mean freedom, empowerment, and opportunity.”
To help participants pay for their bicycles, BAP developed a financing plan. They collect payments via mobile money once a month.
Other model details include:
Total payment for the bicycle is $100.
Payment period of one year.
Payments cover full cost of bicycle, plus a small mark-up fee to cover operations.
There is a down payment of 15% before receiving the bicycle.
Even though it’s an individual loan, participants pay back in village savings group.
Because of organizations such as these, the hardships of those living in rural countries are being addressed, and in doing so, call attention to the issues at hand. Although this organization will not single handedly end world poverty, it as sure as hell is a good start.