Last January I visited Mali in Western Africa. The trip was very humbling. I realized how lucky I am and what a privileged society we live in. I went with my friend Bertrands nonprofit organization, Grain de Sable (French for grain of sand). They have been building schools and helping deserving communities in Mali since 2007. We lived with almost no electricity or running water and experienced first hand just how tough life is in these remote villages. I was saddened by their extreme poverty, yet also inspired by their strength.
Upon returning, I was very moved and decided to help the organization. Because transportation is a significant problem in Mali, Bertrand and I started a partner project of Grain de Sable, called Biket Initiative that provides bikes to children in Mali so they can go to school. Children must often walk anywhere from 10 to 25 miles (15-40 km) a day to go to and from school. Faced with these great distances, most children abandon their studies.
We are not only interested in distributing bikes, but also creating a workshop that builds and repairs bamboo bikes. In developing countries without steel production, a bamboo bike is the most affordable and durable bike available. We are working in partnership with the U.S. based Bamboo Bike Studios. Our workshop is modeled after their successful Bamboo Bike Project in Ghana. There is an extremely high demand for bamboo bikes in Western Africa, but first we need your donations and support to build this workshop.
Mali is one of the ten poorest countries in the world; 84% of adults are illiterate. Education is therefore the key to eradicating poverty. We believe that every child, regardless of religion, creed or sex, has the right to education. If children have access to education, then they will have the necessary tools for improving their quality of life.
Furthermore, Biket Initiative seeks to not only educate a society, but also help develop the local economy. We want to introduce bicycle-building skills in Africa that can be used to develop manufacturing capability to create employment and business opportunities. This is essential in a country where most adults are unemployed and live on less than $2 a day. The bikes would also facilitate access to clean drinking water and medical care. Our ultimate goal, however, is for the project to be autonomous. Most importantly, all of our projects are built with the community and governments participation.
What We Need & What You Get
The total estimated price for starting a bamboo bike factory exceeds $25,000. This price includes the necessary equipment and salary for two employees. Since we want to help children go to school as soon as possible, we will import bikes until our workshop is up and running. Durable bikes that can sustain the rugged conditions of Mali cost $50 each. Our goal is to buy at least 100 bikes this fall, or raise $5,000. This price excludes shipping fees.
Since we have a proven track record of accomplishing set goals, we are confident we will raise this money with your help. 100% of your donation goes to buying bikes. Biket Initiative is dedicated to transparency, and our annual financial reports for our activity are available on request. We are a volunteer-run organization with unpaid volunteers.
For helping us achieve this goal, we are offering custom designed t-shirts with our Biket logo for every bike bought, or $50 donation given. Wearing your t-shirt is the best way to let your friends know that you are helping to change the world. We also have a selection of photos taken on past humanitarian trips available for $100 for those who would like to have a part of Mali in their home. The photos are professionally printed and mounted on foam core. Photos and details can be found under the "Gallery" heading at the top of this page, as well as on our Facebook page at www.Facebook.com/Biketfan
Every contribution brings us one step closer to achieving our goals.
Other Ways You Can Help
You can help us by asking your friends, family and co-workers to buy a bike for a student or by giving a monthly recurring donation. You can help us by advertising this campaign on your social media profile or following us on Facebook and Twitter. We are always looking for motivated volunteers to help us with the following: organizing a local charity event; donating legal, printing or design professional services; in-kind donations such as old computers, cell phones or school supplies; giving a presentation about us at your local school or community organization. We would love to have you come with us on one of our trips to Mali to help these wonderful children first hand!