Funding from the Intrepid Foundation will enable us to intensify BEST Programme activities in 2020.
One of our main aims is to conduct regional training activities. We hope to foster greater cooperation among regional clusters of shops. In particular, we will explore the implementation of a system of collective monitoring and mutual support for financial management, with much the same approach as micro-financing collectives. With the agreement of our partners, we plan to make certain financial data such as payments for the costs of supplying bicycles available to the collective, providing a stimulus for each shop to better manage payments and reporting, with positive incentives as well as consequences for late or non-payment.
We also aim to address complementary business activities. Namibia’s ongoing economic crisis makes surviving as a small social enterprise very challenging. Diversifying can help supplement income when demand for bicycle sales and servicing dips. Our partner shops have had mixed success with diverse activities such as sales of micro-solar lighting/phone charging units, concrete brick making and bakeries. We will be exploring in greater detail why some complementary activities have succeeded at some shops and not others, and designing training and tools around these activities. The regional trainings will serve as platforms for information sharing.
One of our aims going forward is to bring on board a full time coordinator for the BEST programme, whose role would also include fundraising to sustain the programme. Funding this position is seen as essential to expanding the programme and helping our partner shops to thrive. The current funding from Intrepid Foundation makes this position more feasible. We will be planning carefully how to maximise the impact of such a position.
There are a number of complementary projects due for delivery in 2020, such as solar electric bicycles, bicycle ambulances and a solar electric school vehicle, which will all be associated with our partner shops. We will also provide support to our shops in managing these projects. In addition, a number of shops are now participating in a national youth BMX programme, which has been successful in engaging children in cycling. We hope to expand this programme to include more shops in our network.
More info on BEN Namibia and the BEST Programme can be found on our specific BEN Namibia BEST Programme Project page.