Section 1 Intro and understanding of the movement of bikes globally
If you understand the Past, it is easier to understand the Future
Bicycles for Humanity started life as a grassroots organization focused on helping inspired socialentrepreneurs organize chapters and send container of bicycles to the developing world. 15 years ago when we started it was a lot easier to get containers of bikes into Africa and shipping costs were much less. Today, things have changes, with higher costs all around , making it increasingly difficult for b4H chapters and all other groups doing this to collect and send bikes.
On the African side, word got out about our movementand today we have over 500 community leaders wanting bikes. B4H simply does not have enough chapters to meet the demand and so we have decided to grow B4H in Africa, the same way we did in the developed world. If we can transfer the knowledge to help all in Africa better understand the process and the model, if we can help all groups in Africa develop the skills to be able to manage all aspects of mobility that a bicycle can provide and we can create an efficient model that allows us all to work together, thanhopefully we can increase the flow of bikes to Africa, while helping all gain added value. Today, there are more bikes than ever capable of being shipped to Africa, but we do not have the money and the African side is ill prepared to manage the flow of bikes or the relationships with those that are sending the bikes. The Bicycle Empowerment Management Course is about teaching the skills needed to not only understand how to manage a bike centre, but to be successfulin many ways related to bikes.
Bicycle Distribution in Africa Today
There is no real bicycle manufacturing anywhere on the continent of Africa today and the bulk of the bikes that are sold on the continent are single speed, very heavy bikes primarilyfrom India and China. These bikes are typically sold for around $80 to $90 US dollars and can be found all over Africa. In the larger cities there are more established bike shops bringing in newer bikes and many different brands, with the bulkbeing lower priced poorer quality bikes. With the glut of bicycles in Europe and North America and the developed world throwing tens of millions of bikes into landfills annually, we are now seeing a number of new bicycle models emerge. Some of the different models are as follows.
1. Entrepreneurs are purchasing entire containers of bikes from the developed world and selling them when they arrive at the major ports to recoup the cost of the shipment and then to be able to have some left to sell at a higher price or for thier own use. Being entrepreneurs, this model wil lscale and many benefit , all costs are covered and the team is left with bikes to sell or use.
2. Similar to this model, a number of organizations, such as Village Bicycle Project in Ghana, depend on donors to collect and provide them with containers full of bikes, but the group in Africa lacks the funds to cover the shipping, and so they follow a similar model, of sorting the bikes into piles and selling the pile for an amount to again cover all shipping andtax's.
3. Bicycles for Humanity and many smaller groups follow a slightly different model where we try to get the entire container of bikes further from the ports, out into the rural acres where the real need is for bikes and mobility. The B4H model of delivering an entire container of 500 bikes to a remote area has been successful to date, but it is also running onto challenges as costs and tax’s have gone up. Secondly, dealing with 500 bikes by a small group can be a problem to store andto manage the logistics and newer models are required. Groups are also centralizing the bike supply and delivering smaller numbers of bikes to outlying smaller shops.
4. Organizations such as World Bicycle Relief contract manufacturers in China to build a very sturdy single speed bicycle that is shipped to Africa in parts and assembled in a number of African countries. These Buffalo Bikes sell for around $120 in a number of African communities.
In summary, all of these models help get more bikes to Africa , but the numbers are small in comparison to the need for mobility across all of Sub Saharan Africa. New models and new ways to think about the challenge of mobility are needed. There is also a major shift underway in the developed world that could have an incredible impact on the number of bikes coming to Africa and again, if there is not a solid plan in place and a model that allow the benefit to flow to the people, than the value will be lost and the bikes will just keep flowing through the auction process at the ports.
A Shifting Bicycle Mobility Marketplace Globally
The bicycle has always been the backbone to the economy in many emerging Asian countries , China literally grew on the back of a bicycle but all of this is changing rapidly. In China we have seen an explosion of shared bike programs. These are programs where you can locate a bike and unlock it with your cell phone, ride it to where you want to go and leave it for the next person to use. About 30 million shared bikes are entering the Chinese market alone each year and this model will migrate to every country on earth, especially to high density areas and university campuses. As this grows, it will displace tens of millions more bikes, no longer needed in their country, but perfectly suitable for all in Africa. We do not anticipatethis trendslowing downany time soon, we also do not believe the present model of selling bikes at the port to cover shipping is the most efficient way to move very large numbers of bikes, but today, it works very effectively.
If the shared model of bike use was not enough to disrupt the marketplace, an even more disruptive model is hitting the developed world. Several years ago, the E or Electric bike was invented. This bike will providepedal assist, making it easier to pedal, or you can operate it without peddling like a scooter. This market has gained speed to the point where in 2018, 50% of all bicycles sold in North America will be E bikes, forcing another 20 million plus pedal bicycles to be idled.
When we look at major values of used bikes to be coming on stream, we realize that the present model of distribution and support is not there and that if a new model were in place, an efficient model, than many more people in Africa could benefit from the opportunities provided by the massive shift to Shared bikes and E bikes. Knowledge also lets many new organizaitons, civic clubs like Rotary, schools, church's and otehr community organizatiosn join in and make a difference.
Bicycle Distribution in the Developed World
Bicycle Distribution in the developed world hasalways followed a very traditional retail model. In North America there are literally hundreds of manufacturers of bikes of all kinds, road, mountain, city, cruiser, children, cyclocross, you name it. All these manufactures traditionally sold through retail stores and had distributors that delivered the new bikes to the bike shop. Bike shops sold their own brands and prices were fairly close together and all in the bike sellingmodel shared reasonable success at ever level. The is all about to change in a big way, as the industry goes online and the manufacturers sell through the internet. Amazon and their incredible ability to sell on line changed the game, by taking the middle people the distributor and the retailer out of the equation and selling direct. Canyon Bike started in Europe was the first major player and over the next few years all the major players will be aa forced to go this way forced by completion and declining margins. This trend will not stop and as it continues to shift, it will drive an even larger number of new bikes into the market place, driven by increasingly more economical bikes with greater features for the price. Again, like the Shared bike and the E bike trends, online will have an equally significant impact on the global bike industry.
As large numbers of bikes begin to move to move to Africa, and if you want to create an opportunity to build new relationships to get bikes for your community, or you want to build new relationships with organizations in the developed world to support mobility or other projects, it is very important that you understand how they think, what they are looking for and what they can expect from you and your community. The Bicyclemanagement program will equip you with the needed skills to be successful in not only sourcing bikes, but in building new and long lasting relationships.
Bicycles for Humanity empowers people in the developing world by transferring skills to them that enable them to create opportunity for themselves.