Filled to the brim with 480 donation bikes, container #9 has completed its 10-week journey to Gaborone, Botswana, and should clear customs in a few days. This latest resupply container represents a new direction in our model for distributing bicycles in Africa.
In the past, one single Sister Shop has been the recipient of an entire resupply container, taking the entire cost of transport and customs into their overall financial plan. Some difficulties in this approach have been the high up-front cost for the Sister Shop, and a shortage of physical space to store such a large shipment of bikes.
For our new model we've partnered with two avid cyclist brothers, both Kalahari Challenge competitors, who own a freight distribution company. They have agreed to store the donation bikes and send them out to our Sister Shops in 'as-needed' batches.
This system of distribution offers many advantages for the Sister Shops and for the Mike's Bikes Foundation. First and foremost, the Sister Shops will be able to take delivery of inventory in smaller, more timely and more affordable batches, which eliminates the problems of lack of storage, slow resupply, and high up-front cost. Being able to forecast and plan inventories and expenditures accurately, the Sister Shops can now become more self-reliant and self-sustaining. On our end, this method of distribution enables the Foundation to focus its attention on increasing bike donations in the U.S. and gives us more time to devote to our new project in Sierra Leone. Because the new system ensures that shipping costs get reimbursed, the foundation will be able to afford to increase the number of shipments annually, while still allowing the bicycles to arrive at the Sister Shops cheaply enough for them to be affordable for buyers in the community.
In order to achieve the high-level goals of large scale distribution of bicycles in Africa and a widespread African transportation cycling culture, we need to speed up the flow of bikes to end users. The sooner we can scale distribution up, the sooner bicycle manufacturers will see opportunities to market their products and services in Africa. And with increased scale will come lower prices, enabling people in developing Africa to have a life-changing transportation option open to them.
This new model is a leap forward in long-term sustainability for the Mike's Bikes Foundation Africa projects. To our knowledge, it is the the first distribution program of its kind.