Bikes for the World

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Donated Bikes 'Loaned' in Costa Rica

Bikes for the World loaded a container heading to Costa Rica this past weekend. Bikes for the World supports Fundación Integral Campesina (FINCA Costa Rica), a micro-credit program founded in 1984 which currently serves thousands of low-income women (and some men) in rural areas of this Central American country.     

The FINCA Costa Rica financial model consists of self-selected community groups, typically ranging in number from 10 to 30 or more members, who pool their savings and receive technical assistance from FINCA staff in managing the funds and making investments in individual member household and other micro-businesses.  The community groups often receive limited matching support through FINCA’s fundraising, including international grant and loans as well as small grants through local partnerships with urban Rotary clubs in the country’s more affluent Central Valley. 

Bikes for the World support dates to 2005 and represents a significant and surprising departure from FINCA Costa Rica’s traditional business model—managing money—in large part because the availability of bicycles at affordable prices responds to a community need and has proven popular with the community groups. Over the last nine years, BfW has donated more than 18,000 bikes to FINCA.

A typical arrangement is to bring a container holding approximately 500 Bikes for the World-donated bikes into a district, invite representatives of the participating local groups, and unload and allocate the bikes among the groups presented.  Each allotment of bikes is valued and converted into a loan.  The groups bring the bikes and any available parts back to their respective communities, where they re-assemble and recondition the bikes as necessary. They then sell them  to association members and to members of the community at large.  FINCA Costa Rica is repaid and any net profit is then reinvested in the community enterprise and invested in members’ individual businesses.

Examples of beneficiaries. Superación Femenina is one of the first Bikes for the World beneficiaries to take advantage of this unique micro-finance opportunity. Another is Marco Vinicio, an individual beneficiary whose bicycle helped increase sales in his business in San José. 

Further examples, and photos are contained in a Washington Post article from July 2011.   The reporter and a photographer (seen right, in Costa Rica) visited several Bikes for the World community collection events in the Washington DC region, and interviewed the donors of selected bikes.  The team then followed the selected bikes to Costa Rica, where the bikes got into the hands of adults going to work, and children using them to attend school.  

FINCA Costa Rica is one of our most effective overseas partners.  Over the years, it has developed an impressive resume, receiving support from international, public national, and private agencies including the Inter-American Development Bank and my former USG agency, the Inter-American Foundation.

Contributed by Keith Oberg, Executive Director, Bikes for the World

Monday, April 7, 2014

Service Above Self

Bikes for the World 'fines' Richard Foot this month in recognition of our featured volunteer series. Fellow Rotarians will recognize and understand this 'fining' immediately. Dick, pay up.

Dick Foot is a member of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek (RCCC). During Club meetings the President will 'fine' a member as a way of recognizing them for their accomplishments or to share what's going on in their life. President of the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, Fred Genau, this is your ticket to fine Dick Foot, BfW volunteer of the month of April.

This year in their annual Bikes for the World bike drive, the Rotary Club of Carroll Creek collected 149 bikes that will be donated globally over the next few months.

This isn't even a personal best. Over the years the Club has collected over 1300 bikes for Bikes for the World. And although we are naming Dick Foot as our volunteer of the month, there are a lot of people behind the success of this collection.

Zoltan Nagy, also a member of the same Rotary Club, ran very successful bike drives annually in Frederick. During his tenure as collection manager, RCCC collected 201, 254, and 240 bikes. Fred, fine Zoltan too.

This year the Club moved the collection across town to Triangle Motors. And despite major traffic delays on Route 15, the bike collection had a successful turn out, come hell or high water. A water main break forced a busy Rt. 15 into one lane having some donors racing the clock to make it on time.

The success of this year's collection included a lot of planning and even more outreach. Dick did a tremendous job reaching out to the community and gaining support from a number of businesses and individuals. Almost too many to mention.

Shane Sellers, seen above, delivered a few truck loads of bikes to the collection that he collected over the year at Frederick Community College. Bike shops, Wheelbase, The Bicycle Escape, and 3-Points Cycle kicked in their support and encouragement.

The Frederick News Post and Gazette helped advertise the collection. Zoltan even did a radio interview about Bikes for the World. Several donors credit these news outlets to alerting them about the collection AND introducing them to Bikes for the World.

The Rotaract Club of Hood College and the Interact Club of Thomas Johnson High school all kicked in to help promote the collection and volunteer this past weekend.

RCCC Rotarian Jean-Louis LePage has also been a tremendous help to Dick throughout the year to help make this collection a success. Jean-Louis stored bikes at his downtown sign business and will continue to collect bikes over the next year as well.

So you see it's almost unfair to name just one man for this month's featured volunteer. But in his sophomore effort, Dick doubled the number of bikes collected from last year. His outreach before the collection was unprecedented. And his gratitude and thanks to everyone involved was expressed time and time again.

Congratulations Rotary Club of Carroll Creek, for a job well done, yet again. Keep up the great work!