Ability Bikes improves the mobility of people in Ghana by selling and repairing bicycles for able-bodied people and mobility aids for persons with disability. Ability Bikes empowers persons with disability with job training and access to sustainable economic opportunities.
Ability Bikes Cooperative is a social enterprise bike shop in Koforidua in eastern Ghana that is cooperatively owned and operated by its workers, all of whom are persons with disabilities. It was founded in 2008 with the help of sister-organization Bikes Not Bombs. In 2009, Ability Bikes workers took full ownership of the shop and began running operations independently with continued technical assistance provided by Bikes Not Bombs.
Ability Bikes imports shipments of donated used bicycles, bike parts, and mobility aids from partners in the United States and United Kingdom including not only Bikes for the World, but also Bikes Not Bombs, Re~Cycle, and Working Bikes. The workers include trained mechanics who manage the repair of the bicycles, a sales representative, and an accounts administrator. Bikes are then sold both wholesale and directly from their shop to individuals in need.
The workers at Ability Bikes manage a professional workshop to refurbish the bicycles and prepare them for sale. The wholesale of a portion of the bikes supports small-scale entrepreneurship in the region and the individual sales serve people in the community in need of affordable transportation. Bikes ultimately go to students, farmers, guards and more. The sale of high quality bicycles and mobility aids increases mobility for able-bodied persons and persons with disabilities alike.
The revenues from the sales go toward paying the salaries of the staff members with disabilities, rent for their workshop, administration, bicycle shipments, and the purchase of necessary supplies. This system of employing workers with disabilities allows them access to a new skill set through training in bicycle repair and a source of reliable income. Previously, staff members worked in fields including hairdressing and weaving, where it was difficult to guarantee a steady income to support themselves and their families.
Mirriam Oduro Ageiwaa
Mirriam is a mechanic and part owner of Ability Bikes. She has problems standing for long periods of time due to her disability. She needs two crutches to walk and one of her arms is also affected.
Mirriam states, I pursued vocational skills training in hairdressing. After completion, I practiced it as a career until I started encountering challenges while standing to fix hair for my customers. My career came to a halt because of those challenges until I became trained as a mechanic with Ability Bikes. I am currently the only female bike mechanic at Ability Bikes and am a very good wheel builder.
"I know how to do everything about the bicycle. From the time I remove the bicycle from the stand and put it on the ground I know that bicycle is a complete bicycle. The owner can move it to everywhere," Julius Amegavi
Julius is also a mechanic and part owner of Ability Bikes cooperative. He is a welder and makes complex repairs to bicycles in the shop. Julius loves the idea of the co-op, which gives everyone a stake in the shop's success.
Emmanuel is 16 years old and is a student at Presby Junior High in Koforidua, Ghana. He received this refurbished bike through the Ability Bikes Co-Op. Emmanuel uses his bike to speed his commute to school each day. The time he saves riding his bike, leaves him more time for homework and to help around the house. He also uses his bike to run errands for the family. Riding his donated bike freed Emmanuel from relying on expensive public transportation. His family can now use the money they used to spend on bus fare to hlep support their family.