The mission of Bikes for the World is to make affordable, good quality used bicycles available to low-income people in developing countries. These donated bikes provide better transport for work, education, and health care. Bikes for the World also generates additional skilled employment in bike repair and maintenance overseas, and provides satisfying environmental and humanitarian service opportunities for volunteers locally in the Washington, DC Metro region.
After a slower year, Bikes for the World saw a return to normal in 2021. Our warehouse was buzzing with volunteers again after vaccines eventually became accessible to everyone in our program. We saw our bike donations increase with more collection events and as bikes became more available in shops as the supply chain began to flow. Scheduling shipments continued to be a challenge and rolling closures continued to plague cities around the world, some of whom were still fighting for access to the vaccine. A return to tourism brought hope to many of our international beneficiaries who rely on that revenue to survive. We shipped 20 containers in 2021...nearly 10,000 bikes, ensuring that every program received at least one shipment of bikes to help them recover from the economic crisis caused by the two year pandemic. This year we added a new project in Rwanda, Learn Work Develop, which offers educational and training opportunties to young people as well as additional support to teen mothers.
Continuing with that momentum we built in 2019, we started out strong in 2020. Over the winter we had school groups and girl scouts regularly scheduled for service projects to help us prepare and ship bikes without pause. Until March 2020. When the whole world hit pause, as the COVID-19 pandemic emerged. Bikes for the World, doing our part to halt the spread of coronavirus, locked the warehouse and waited to see how we could continue our operation spaceously and safely. Within a couple months we were back to collecting bikes but our warehouse quickly filled with no shipments going out, as our partners struggled with the same operational challenges. Fortunately, even as we all figured out a way to send and receive shipments, our partners who had bikes in storage began using them to help in unprecendented ways. Bikes were used to deliver supplies to fight coronavirus. Bikes took the place of public transportation, which was halted in some areas of the world. Bikes for the World and our partners worked within our communities to donate bikes directly to the essential workers who were going into their workplaces, as the rest of the world stayed safe at home. It was a long, uncertain year as we cautiously moved forward, adjusting to keeping our distance and wearing masks. We remained hopeful that the new year would bring a vaccine and put us all back on the path to recovery.
After two transitional years, Bikes for the World put down roots in its new home in Rockville Maryland. Executive Director Taylor Jones continued to build a strong organization by empowering the local community and expand our efforts through increased volunteer opportunities. Our volunteer mechanics increased the output of spare parts and helped improve the quality of bikes shipped to our partner programs overseas. The stock of spare parts included with shipments will help mechanics on the other end repair the bikes donated through Bikes for the World. They also help increase the revenue for our partners to support their missions, improving the lives of members of their communities. Bikes for the World increased the number of bikes collected at area recycling centers in 2019, which allowed us to grow our international donations and take on two brand new partners this year.
This year was a been a big one for Bikes for the World, Taylor Jones, our Chief Operating Officer, was appointed Executive Director. With his expertise in international program work, strong leadership skills and experience in the bike industry and a solid knowledge of Bikes for the World, he’s the perfect person to move the organization forward. Keith Oberg, our founder has retired. As Executive Director Emeritus, he sits on our board and still helps out at collections and loadings.
After years of bouncing around borrowed spaces, which included warehouses, a barn, a shopping mall and even a prison, we finally set down more permanent roots. In 2017 we signed a lease for a warehouse in Rockville, Maryland. Combining our office and warehouse space improved our operational efficiency and allowed us to open our workshop more frequently to volunteers, who keep a steady supply of spare parts for our overseas partners. We’re also thrilled to provide a strong volunteer base in the community.
Bikes for the World added more than a dozen new local school partners in 2016 and worked with 10 scouts earning their Eagle status. Our community partners, new and old, collected more bikes than ever before. Programs all over the world thrived because of donated bikes, which allowed kids to get to and stay in school and empowered health care workers to see more clients.
We expanded our reach around the DC Metro area and also around the country. We started collecting in Charleston, SC, Pittsburgh and New York. Bikes for the World made a first shipment from New York and added four new African partners. With the help of our dedicated volunteers we shipped to Madagascar where donated bikes improved the lives of children, mothers, farmers and health workers.
We donated our 100,000th bike in 2014. Our partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods allowed us to ship 14,000 bikes that year and a collaboration with Motivate Bicycle Share and local bicycle shops allowed us to collect and ship valuable parts and tires. The Catalogue for Philanthropy of Greater Washington recognized BfW as one of the best small nonprofits. In a year where Ebola dominated the news, the high value of a bicycle was evident in West Africa, where donated bikes were used to deliver soap, surgical gloves and allowed caregivers to disseminate accurate information to slow the spread of disease.
Bikes for the World added two new partners with a focus on keeping students in school. We also supported existing education projects in Africa and the Philippines. We focused on strengthening and expanding service projects here at home, for corporate, school and scout volunteer teams. A new website allowed us to better share how donated bikes improve the lives of beneficiaries from around the world and Yvette traveled to the Philippines to see firsthand how a donated bike can get a child to school and keep them in class and on track to graduate.
We collected and shipped more bikes than ever to new partners in Sierra Leone, Kenya and El Salvador. A partnership with Dick’s Sporting Goods allowed us to collect more bikes and we continued to support education programs in the Philippines. We launched our blog and got active on social media too. We couldn’t have shipped 13,500 bikes to 12 different countries, without the dedicated support of hundreds of volunteers throughout the DC Metro Area.
2011 was the year we transitioned from our start as a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) to becoming our own independent nonprofit. We expanded collections through bicycle retailers, apartment buildings and waste transfer stations. We donated over 9000 bikes to overseas partners in Barbados, Costa Rica, Panama, Ghana, and Uganda and to half a dozen local programs.
Our founder and Emeritus Executive Director, Keith Oberg, founded Bikes for the World as a sponsored project of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association in 2005. As an all volunteer organization, Bikes for the World shipped bikes to Sri Lanka, Costa Rica, Panama and Ghana. We partnered locally as well, with the Rockville Youth Bicycle Project and received support from the City of Rockville, REI and the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club.