This story of change begins with the bike, but it doesn't end there. Our donated bikes are helping to improve lives in so many ways in Costa Rica it's hard to keep track of them all.
For you, that bike you donated may represent memories of fun times on the trail, easy commutes to work, or a milestone in your child's life when she took her first solo ride toward independence.
In Costa Rica that one bike might represent a ticket to improved education for a student, a job for a local mechanic, a tool for a struggling family, and a financial loan to improve a small business.
FINCA Costa Rica has been working with Bikes for the World since 2005 to bring bicycles into small rural villages to improve transportation needs. But that wasn't the final goal of bringing bikes to these communities. Find out how your donated bikes are changing lives on two wheels and off in this short series highlighting the stories of five local entrepreneurs.
Maria Ignacia lives in a community known as Canalete in Upala, Costa Rica. She is part of the Community Credit Enterprise (ECC) that our partner FINCA Costa Rica helped establish. The ECC has over 100 members and each member has the ability to apply for a small business loan to help improve their productivity.
Our bikes serve as the capital needed to grant these loans to members of the co-op. If an ECC requests a container or partial shipment of bicycles they prep our donated bikes for use and sell them among the community or to their neighbors. Each bike is sold for between $10-100 depending on the quality of the bike. The proceeds then get folded into this general fund for use among the community to improve their businesses, or sometimes to get a new one started.
Maria applied for a loan to help build a chicken coop to protect her main source of income for her family...egg production. She has been raising chickens and collecting eggs for the past year. She collects the eggs and sells them throughout the community to help provide for her and her family.
FINCA helped facilitate the $1,800 loan she needed to build a small chicken coop. Her chickens are now better protected from the elements and their productivity is much improved. Maria now has more money for her family even while she works to pay back the loan to the ECC.
Tonito and Eduviges
Tonito and Eduviges are not related but both live in the same community as Maria, Canalete. Both received bikes from our shipment to this community in 2014. We had a chance to meet them when we visited the community that fall and even rode with Tonito through the community.
Eduviges bought her bicycle through the co-op and she uses it to commute to work. Eduviges works on a lychee farm and used to get up at 5am to walk the two hours to the lychee field. She can now cover the same ground in less than half the time, saving time and energy.
Tonito is from a very poor family that lives in Nicaragua. They sent Tonito to Canalete to live with his grandfather in hopes of giving him a better life. The co-op members decided to give Tonito a bicycle and helmet to reward him for getting such good grades in school.
Tonito was also on hand to help unload the bikes that were donated to the community and helped organize and prep them for sale. The sale of those bikes, including Eduviges's, may have helped provide the loan to Maria for her business.