2 minutes reading time (441 words)

Workshops- a Hub In Community

"It's a good thing to see a workshop in a community." Elias knows firsthand the benefit a small business can have in a rural neighborhood. He runs a small bike repair workshop that is supported through the larger organization CESTA in El Salvador. 

In El Salvador over 95% of all businesses are small or micro-entreprises. These businesses bring goods and services into rural areas that often lack access to affordable transportation, which prohibits longer distance travel. Most shop owners of this size, however, lack the resources to grow their businesses due to inadequate training or the inability to access credit or materials. 

Elias lives in a community that already had access to bicycles for transportation, so his dream of opening a bike shop had room to grow. Through a training program offered by CESTA, Elias was able to join a growing network of shop owners who count on each other for support and ideas to keep their businesses successful. He also has access to stock- bikes and spare parts, coming in to CESTA through donations from organizations like Bikes for the World.

Elias offers refurbished bikes, spare parts, and repair services through his workshop. After receiving bikes through CESTA, he works to clean, repair, and occasionally repaint an old bike to give it a new life.

Elias notes that in his small community there are not many business opportunities available; many families are struggling just to get by. He feels fortunate to have this opportunity and is grateful to help his customers with affordable transportation that will in turn benefit their families.

For many small business owners success lies in the same model that CESTA hands down to their workshop participants...relying on community. Elias treats his customers with respect and kindness...offering to teach them how to fix their bicycles and when to buy a replacement part. He recognizes that many people just need a new seat, wheel, or possibly a simple patch for a flat tire. He's more than willing to show someone how to patch a tube if they are interested in learning.

Many of his customers use their bikes to get to work, and some use them for work, like to transport vegetables or to sell meat or bread. Some may offer Elias what they are selling in trade for what he knows about bikes. They develop a relationship and because a bicycle needs regular maintenance, it's a relationship that will continue to be mutually beneficial for them both.

Thanks to his workshop, Elias is not just balancing on the pedals, he's finding a way to move forward.

Featured Volunteer: Oh Look, It's Jonah!