PROJECTS: BICYCLE EMPOWERMENT CENTRES
Through a partnership with a volunteer network, Bicycles for Humanity, BEN Namibia developed a new bicycle distribution model, the Bicycle Empowerment Centre (BEC). A BEC is a shipping container loaded with around 300 bicycles, spare parts and tools. BECs are delivered to the community based organisations that BEN Namibia works with and are run as bicycle workshops.
Each BEC uses its income from initial bicycle sales and servicing to ensure that it will be able to operate in the future, paying mechanics' wages, buying new spare parts, and covering the costs of resupply of bicycles. A portion of the bicycles are given to outreach volunteers or other beneficiaries like children walking to school, while a share of profits are used to fund community social initiatives.
The map below shows the location and contact details of all established BECs
View Bicycle Empowerment Network in a larger map
For each BEC, BEN Namibia provides training in bicycle mechanics and business skills, and gives extensive monitoring and support to ensure each project is running efficiently. BEN Namibia also raises the funds for all of the project implementation costs, working with a large network of donor organisations, charitable trusts, companies and individuals.
Bicycles for Humanity chapters and other bicycle charities organise bicycle collections and raise money for shipping. Each container shipment is connected to a particular project, and BEN Namibia provides feedback and reports on each shipment. Many shipments are now used to resupply exisiting BEC projects.
BEN Namibia began its bicycle distribution programme by importing second hand, donated bicycles from overseas partners, refurbishing them in our Windhoek warehouse and distributing them to our partners throughout Namibia. We soon realised, however, that our partners needed better access to tools, spare parts and the skills to keep their bicycles maintained. Distributing small quantities of bicycles in a vast country like Namibia is expensive and time-consuming. There is also huge demand for employment in a country with an unemployment rate of 51 percent