The Katima. Hard Working Men’s Club, Bike Shop was established in 2011 with a container of bikes from the Melbourne chapter of Bicycles For Humanity. This BEC was fully funded by the effort of Hap Cameron and Mandy who then rode hundreds of kms to rendezvous with the container and help with the training and implementation process. This story has been documented in the film Bikes For Africa.
One of the huge achievements of BEN Namibia over the last few years has been getting over 30 bike shops online – The Katima shop has a Face Book page which you can follow.
Our second container of bikes was being implemented as a BEC ( Bicycle Empowerment Centre) in the small village of Chibobo in Zambia. There it supports the Chibobo orphanage.You can learn more about the orphanage at the Help Ministiries web site.
The Chibobo BEC project started mid 2009 when B4H Melbourne was contacted by Warren Mills of the Mechanics For Chibobo/Serenje. The Mechanics continue to work to develop an automotive workshop in Chibobo and the nearby larger town of Serenje. These workshops are planned around a similar model as the BEC with locals trained and employed in what will become an economically stimulating, micro-financed small business providing training, employment and economic opportunities for the community.
On meeting with Warren Mills and Phil Stacey there was a clear fit between the organisations. The BEC has been established in Chibobo to support the orphange with the training in bicycles mechanics indicating which of the trainees will be suited to the more complex automotive training as the larger project develops.
Our partner Bicycle Empowerment Network Namibia was looking to expand in to Zambia so it was very timely.
Bicycle collection began and the container filled with around 380 bikes and extensive engineering equipment shipped to Zambia mid 2010. The container also included a gantry hand winching system for getting the 40ft conatiner off the back of the truck once it reached remote Chibobo.
Both Phil from the Mechanics and Ylva Carosone from B4H Melbourne were in Chibobo in September 2009 for the containers modification and implementation.
The project has been a great success. The initial revenue generated from the Bike Workshop allowed the orphanage to plant 14 hectares of maize – enough to feed 150 people for a year. So much in fact that they were able to sell the excess at a further profit – a great result over and beyond the benefit of the bicycles in the community.
Watch a short excerpt from Bike For Africa with Hap Cameron visiting Chibobo and seeing the results of the project here.
Our first container of bikes left for Namibia in June 2009. It is now an extremely successful bike work shop in the town of Opowu in northern Namibia. Implemented with the help of BEN Nambia as a Bicycle Empowerment Centre the workshop has provided much of the local community with bikes which have changed their day to day lives. The income from the workshop is supporting the orphan program run by The Red Cross.
The container has now been modified – given an extra roof, doors and a concrete pad outside. Local particpants are trained as bike mechanics and also educated in business and entrepeneurial skills. The BEC is established as a self sustaining business that can contuinue to benefit the community well into the future. The Kaoko BEC has been a successful venture from its launch. It provides vital services and bikes to the local community and employs 4 mechanics who’s lives have been completely changed by their involvement in the project. Meet The Team below.
Rauna 38 y.o., 1 year old child. Her allowance as a Red Cross volunteer was N$200 per month, she now earns N$700 per month. Rauna has already bought a bicycle for her child, and the main difference the extra income makes for her is being able to buy more food each month.
Michael 26 y.o., main guardian for his niece, was working as a pastor before the BEC and earning a variable amount, averaging around what he earns through the BEC, but was travelling 2-3 weeks per month, and as guardian of his niece was not able to provide her enough attention. Now earns N$700 per month. Michael having a more structured work and family life
Johannes 22 y.o., no kids, was working as a casual shelf stacker at a local supermarket, earning N$90 per shift, sometimes only getting 3 or 4 shifts per month. Now earns N$700. Johannes describes his life before the project as an endless struggle, in which he frequently had to borrow money to pay his rent and buy food, and is glad he no longer has to do this.
Simpson 20 y.o., no kids. Was not working previously, now earns N$400 per month as the apprentice mechanic (Simpson did not participate in BEN Namibia’s training). Simpson has only completed grade 8, and as such his employment prospects were bleak, but his passion for bicycle repair won him a place on the team.
Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne was founded by Matt McCullough and Andy Gild in 2008 as the first Australian Bicycles for Humanity (B4H) chapter. We are completely volunteer run and governed by a committee of 8 members.
We are very proud to be part of this global grass-roots movement and have seen first hand how effective the model of Bicycle Empowerment Centres can be in the developing world.
Bicycles for Humanity Melbourne is an incorporated association and registered charity with ACNC and registered for fund raising within Victoria, Australia.