Wheels of Africa
To bring cycling to all levels of riders, and to champion the culture of riding as a life style in Africa through education, advocacy, friendship, teamwork, partnerships and fun. And to facilitate a culture of cycling through advocacy for motorists to learn to share the road, while raising the profile of cycling, hosting fun and high profile events as well as cycling for worthy causes.
Wheels of Africa (WoA) is a group of Kenyan and expatriate cyclists in the capital city of Nairobi, established in 2008 to bring awareness to cycling in Kenya and in turn making cycling safer for participants. Its objectives were initially limited to promoting cycling for sport and recreation, but over the last four years has become more ambitious. Encountering un-safe road conditions, it became an advocate for safer infrastructure and adpatation and enforcement of laws protecting cyclists. Given the lack of support to cyclists, whether they were biking for recreation or as essential transportation to work--there was little between scattered roadside mechanics—most of them ill-equipped and poorly trained—and the few high-end shops in Nairobi and Mombasa that served the urban elite, WoA began operating more and more as a community bike shop.
Wheels of Africa is now supported by a network of international and African cycling organizations. Tour d'Afrique, a US bicycle touring company, provided an introduction and endorsement, as well as financial support to an initial shipment of bicycles by Bikes for the World. Bikes for the World has joined with Wheels of Change, a Montana-based initiative, and Chicago's Working Bikes, to send almost 3,300 bicycles through early 2013. Bicycling Empowerment Network Namibia ran a workshop providing training to roadside bike repairers on running a successful bike sales and service business.
WoA has received more than 2,400 bicycles from Bikes for the World, 3,300 in all from the network of US groups supporting the Kenyan initiative. These donations enable WoA to operate as a community bike shop, selling bicycles and repair servcies to the community of cyclists, and provide technial assistance, training, and capital (in the form of bicycles and spare parts) to roadside bicycle repairers in the outlying neighborhoods of the city, with the goal of raising their incomes and improving support services to bicycle commuters and recreational riders.
Most WoA bikes are sold at discounted prices to workers and students in Nairobi and surrounding rural areas. A significant number, however, are donated to qualified institutions and individuals to contribute to education, health, and job creation among low-income people. Nairobi's Arrow Web Hospital, specializing in treating AIDS patients, received 12 WoA donated bicycles, for use by health workers who visit patients at home. Another 13 bikes were given to Kijiji cha Upendo, a program in Kibera, a slum area adjacent to Nairobi. These bikes will be the start of training for some young mechanics and bike sales. Eco Tourism Kenya received 10 bikes for working class staff members to kick start its bike rental enterprise.
Paulina Endjala, from BEN Namibia, trained WoA mechanics on the island of Mfangano as part of an initiative of Bicycles for Humanity Colorado.
From Director Prisca Oluoch: BEN Namibia have been a great support and we hope we can do more work together this year. It was really fantastic to have Michael (Linke, BENN Director) here. He helped us a lot with the strategic planning and the funding for the mechanics on Entrepreneurship and Business skills. Later he sent Paulina who supported some of our mechanics at their work-shops.