The Women of Cycloville
We are Cycloville. These three women were in the first round of training when the organization formed in 2015. Sharon, Elma, and Jackie (seen here with Julius and Winstone) trained under Julius to learn the ins and outs of bicycle mechanics. They are now fully trained bike mechanics who can not only do their own repairs, but train others to do the same.
The idea behind Cycloville was to increase the supply of bikes into Nairobi, grow the network, support new bike shops, and create jobs. Ultimately Cycloville wanted to put more bikes in the hands of people who needed transportation for work, school, health, or simply to complete household errands. Growing the bicycle network will also put focus on improving infrastructure, making it safer for cyclists in and around the busy city.
Today Cycloville works with about 17 different shops, some shop owners worked their way up through Cycloville's training program until they learned enough to branch out on their own. They now receive bikes and parts through Cycloville who continues to receive containers donated through Bikes Not Bombs and soon Bikes for the World.
Some of those satellite shop employees are familiar faces. Sharon still works for Cycloville as the shop administrator at Juja Road. Elma and Jackie are also still with the program. They work together running the shop at Mathare, the second largest slum in Nairobi.
Over the past decade, conditions in Mathare have improved but residents continue to struggle. Unemployment, lack of education, unsanitary living conditions, drugs, violence and health issues plague this community daily.
There are no hospitals or government clinics within the boundaries of the slums around Nairobi. Many of the health issues are due to the unsanitary conditions rampant throughout the slum. Most cannot afford transportation to clinics or spare the time it takes walking.
Therefore, bikes are clearly the ticket to a healthier more productive life in Mathare. By opening and operating a shop on the edge of Mathare, Cycloville is able to help bring those needed bikes to the impoverished community and keep them serviced and operational.
In the fall of 2016, Cycloville launched the Women's Bike Programme (WBP) which is run out of the shop in Mathare. They formed a Learn To Ride program primarily for low-income women living in the slum. Sharon, Elma, and Jackie work as a team to train other women to ride and perform simple maintenance on their bikes. By empowering these women, they hope to make healthcare more accessible to families and work more attainable outside the boundaries of Mathare.