Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology
To promote environmentally sustainable and socially equitable transportation operating a bicycle import, repair, and sales workshop.
The Salvadoran Center for Appropriate Technology (CESTA) was founded in 1980 by a group of academics to protect this Central American nation's increasingly fragile environment. CESTA broke new ground, not only because it was one of El Salvador's first NGO's and environmental advocates, but because it was created and functioned reasonably un-molested during the civil war which polarized the country and killed thousands over more than a decade. CESTA combined research and advocacy on environmental issues, with practical initiatives promoting environmentally sustainable and socially equitable development. One such initiative was the import and reconditioning of used bicycles, for distribution at low cost to low-income workers, students, farmers, and laborers for access to work and school.
CESTA continues to function as an advocate and a communicator in diverse environmental areas. Its grassroots contacts in rural communities enables it to monitor environmental crimes and "sound the alarm" at the national level, through the media and public sector agencies. Its founder and director, Ricardo Navarro, is a recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize for CESTA's work protecting El Salvador's natural resources and the communities which depend on them. It is a member of Friends of the Earth International.
CESTA's bicycle business, known as Eco-bici, promotes the bicycle as a mode of transport for all. Over more than 20 years, it has received more than 25,000 donated bicycles from overseas. Bikes for the World began donating bikes in 2012 and has provided 970 bicycles to date.
Inside CESTA's huge bike workshop, located in San Marcos, a suburb of the capital city of San Salvador, employees and apprentices recondition donated bikes, repair bikes brought in by customers, sell bikes, teach bike maintenance and bike-building for free to at-risk urban youth. After receiving training, many of their students gain employment as bike mechanics or even establish their own bikeshops in their communities. In the past, the center also developed bicycle-powered grain milling machinery, a pilot effort that has been spun off as a private business operated by a former student.
Proceeds of the shop support CESTA's advocacy on environmental issues, and core administrative expenses.
Antonio buys bikes from CESTA and repairs them himself. He currently sells the refurbished bikes in front of a friend's store, but hopes to have his own bike shop soon.
Antonio used to work in the packing industry but was unable to maintain that position after developing a disability that prevented him from the manual labor required in his previous job. Antonio has been selling bikes for several years. When he starts his own bike shop he will supplement bike sales with maintenance work.
138 Salvadoran veteran Erik, with PTSD and loss of a leg, struggled to find work. CESTA offers a job and calm where he prospers and mentors interns
Jose and Rosa Hernandez