Bikes for the World

Monday, November 17, 2014

Bikes in Costa Rica

Taylor and Luis in container
America Recycles Day is the only nationally recognized day dedicated to promoting and celebrating recycling in the United States. This 'recycling celebration' occurs annually on November 15 and generates a huge amount of buzz over recycling...not to mention a huge pile of recyclables...somewhere in the vicinity of 3.7 million pounds of it!

To help us do our part, Bikes for the World was joined by FINCA Costa Rica Director Luis Jimenez last week. On November 15th, representatives from Keep America Beautiful and the US EPA were on hand in the Bikes for the World warehouse to help load the 100,000th donated bike from Bikes for the World. This milestone bike would be donated, along with over 500 others, to our long-standing partner FINCA Costa Rica.

Luis and Yvette at Microsoft
On November 14th at the Microsoft store in the Pentagon City Fashion Centre, Jimenez gave a presentation explaining how his organization is using our bikes to help transform lives in rural Costa Rica. Part of the importance of America Recycles Day is not only recycling, but creating an educational platform that helps raise the awareness about the value of recycling. At Bikes for the World we went one step further, and put a face on America's discarded recyclables.

BfW shared photos from our recent trip to Costa Rica while Jimenez explained how the program works.

 To date, Bikes for the World has donated over 20,500 bikes to Costa Rica since 2005. All of the donated bikes were brought into Costa Rica through our partner FINCA Costa Rica to help support smaller micro-finance organizations. The following was presented by Director Luis Jimenez during his visit to the Bikes for the World world headquarters.

The population of Costa Rica stands at about 4.94 million people. 38% of the population live in what is considered to be rural Costa Rica. Many communities tucked along the winding roads of mountainous countrysides consist of residents who make their livings farming, working construction, or running small local shops.

FINCA Costa Rica was established in 1984 to help communities help themselves. Today FINCA Costa Rica serves about 130 rural communities all around the country.

  • FINCA Costa Rica helps rural communities establish micro-finance organizations owned and operated by their members.
  • FINCA Costa Rica also teaches community members how to operate those micro-finance organizations set up to benefit their own communities.
Member groups operate with the equity raised by their own members, in many cases through FINCA Costa Rica supported projects. The Bike Project, also known as Mi Bici, was established in 2005 as a 'loan' project.

The Bike Project was introduced to bring clean, affordable transportation to rural Costa Ricans and also to help raise funds to support the Empresas (these local micro-finance groups).

In this way, one donated bike is in turn helping the new owner of the bike get to work or school, which is helping to support his or her family. It is also generating work for the individuals fixing up and maintaining the bicycle. Last but not least, it is supporting the entire community who benefits from the sale of that bicycle, which helps support a number of member operated businesses in the community.

We ended the evening taking questions about the program, the quality of our bikes, the condition of our containers based on how we pack the bikes, and what Costa Rica wants more of...answer: beach cruisers and sewing machines!

Jimenez reports that our bikes arrive in great condition and most if not all are put back to good use. His big request, just send more bikes!

If you want to see the slide presentation (without sound) you can check it out on YouTube.

Big thanks to Microsoft for letting us use their amazing space so close to our warehouse...and getting our presentation off with absolutely NO technical glitches.

Turns out the mall on a Friday evening...in a store that sells video gaming equipment...isn't the most ideal space for an intimate chat afterwards, so we all retired downstairs for dinner and continued conversation.



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