Bikes for the World

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

How BfW Started

St Andrew of the Apostle 2005
 Before we dive into what is happening in the Philippines, how about a little background about Bikes for the World. BfW started in 2005 with a spattering of collections around the DC area. We partner with groups in the community who simply reach out to their circles of friends and ask if they have any old bikes they'd like to donate.

Before you could spin a pedal 360 degrees, we had thousands of bikes. By the end of our first year we shipped almost 6,000 bikes to countries such as Panama, Sri Lanka, and Costa Rica, to name a few. In fact we donated bikes to nine countries in 2005 including some that stayed right here in the United States.
Keith Oberg and Craig Annear

 Although we do service several programs here in the DC area, the bulk of what we donate does go overseas. There are several reasons for this. The biggest reason to ship overseas involves the number of bikes we are rescuing from landfills and garages here in the US. In 2008 we topped 10,000 bikes (that's just for that year)!

For example, in 2005 we distributed over 5,000 bikes and by the end of this month we will already be at that number for 2012! It is these impressive numbers that makes Bikes for the World the nation's largest non-profit bicycle reuse program.

Because we are shipping 500+ bicycles at one time we needed to find non-profit partners that could handle the large volume of bikes we typically ship. Not only that, but we needed to find partners who would distribute the bikes to areas that needed them most. Given Director, Keith Oberg's background in overseas development programs both professionally and as a volunteer, he was the perfect guy for the job.

BfW then came up with a sort of checklist for groups seeking bikes overseas. 
  • Provide information evidencing a track record of social service delivery or economic empowerment benefiting the poor;
  • Financial statement for the most recent year;
  • Reference—contact information for an individual familiar with the proponent agency (the individual should preferably speak and write in English or Spanish, and work with a known international organization); and
  • Provide a work plan clearly describing what types of bicycles would be useful, how they would be used, and how the project would be managed.
This not only ensures a vested interest in both parties' corners, but provides BfW with the necessary feedback to ensure that the program we are supporting is sustainable. Some of those programs that have been with us from the start are:

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